Gem World Jewellers  


Facts and figures about Silver.


Qualities of Silver:

Slightly harder than gold in its pure form, and in most countries is sold in a more pure condition than gold, normally 925 parts in 1000 of silver jewellery is silver, although in some countries 800 parts is normal. Because the resultant alloy is more pure than gold - and it is the alloying which gives both gold and silver additional strength, items made from silver are softer than those made from gold.

For the craftsman it is somewhat harder to work than gold, but not being so expensive it is more practical to produce large beautiful items. When new the metal will take a brilliant polish, which with normal wear slowly ages to a rich sheen. Compared to chrome plate and steel, silver looks slightly yellow.

Unfortunately silver reacts with sulphur in the air, so it slowly turns black. The best way to stop silver from tarnishing is to use it! Every time it is worn, the tarnish is rubbed off. Also checkout our advice on caring for jewellery. Note that 800 silver can now be legally sold in the UK as silver. It looks almost identical to Sterling silver. I have no experience of this quality, but suspect that it may be more prone to tarnishing.

For further information on silver standards consult the page on hallmarking.

Silver jewellery is often a great buy, and may be better value than costume jewellery, looking better when new and having a longer life.

Gold on Silver:

Sometimes silver is electro-plated with gold. This gives the appearance of gold with the economy of silver. Like any gold-plated item the plating will eventually wear away, so make sure anything you buy has a good thick layer of gold, else you'll soon own a simple silver piece! Personally I have to say I don't like gold on silver. The problem is that if any repair is needed, or a ring needs resizing, the plating will always be damaged, and the cost of having the item re-plated can be considerable. So I think you're better off sticking with simple un-plated silver, after all it's a lovely metal in its own right.


Other uses for silver:

Most of the world's silver is used in photography... again and again, because it keeps getting recycled. There is no silver in a colour photo, just dye, so after development all the silver can be recovered and used again. Incidentally you may have learnt that it's safe to view the sun (during partial eclipses) by looking through dark negatives. Actually it's the silver which absorbs the harmful radiation. Therefore this only works with black and white negatives, and you must be sure these do contain silver. Most modern processing even of black and white negatives uses dyes rather than the silver to produce the black, such negatives are dangerous to use as filters and will lead to eye damage.

Silver is also used in industrial electric switchgear. Another use is the silver oxide in watch batteries.


Comparing Gold & Silver:

  • Silver is more economical than gold.

  • Craftsmen often produce more exciting designs in silver.

  • Gold will wear better than silver.

  • Gold tarnishes less than silver.

  • White gold and silver are almost exactly the same colour.




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