The value of sterling silver is rising. Although it is currently hovering around $8-$9 per ounce and once was as low as $4 per ounce in 2001, silver has shown the ability to earn as it once topped $49 per ounce back in 1980. There is a resurgence in the interest in silver jewelry especially as more manufacturer’s such as Tiffany $ Co. focus more attention on their silver product lines. The quality of silver when coated with rhodium, a precious metal, can rival white gold in shine and sharpness.
Silver has been used for thousands of years in dining utensils, ornaments and as coinage in numerous monetary systems. In fact, the word “silver” can be translated in 14 different languages as “money”. Silver has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals including copper. Its use is not widespread in all things electrical, however, due to its costliness and tendency to tarnish, although because of its high conductivity it is commonly found in computer parts. Silver has always played second fiddle to gold generally but there are a few societies in history such as ancient Egypt and the middle ages in Europe, where silver was considered more valuable than gold. Today’s state of silver is, however, a matter of popularity and not necessarily value.
In modern times silver is used most in the area of photography in the form of silver nitrate which is a corrosive light sensitive ingredient used in film. Silver is also used to produce the highly reflective surfaces of mirrors through a process called silvering. The practical nature and application of silver is apparent not only to industrial types but to the average consumer. Silver jewelry, given its beauty, quality and inexpensiveness has become a highly sought after commodity. Silver jewelry is usually produced with 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper as 100% silver would simply be too soft to use in usable jewelry.
The only drawback to silver is its tendency to tarnish. Tarnish is basically a layer of corrosion that naturally develops over silver as it is exposed to oxygen. Scientists have tried to prevent tarnish by adding different alloys which have helped decrease tarnishability. There are some new developments in this regard as scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have been attempting to produce a new type of silver alloy which will be more resistant to tarnish, called Carrs Lustre Silver. There are ways to prevent tarnish from occurring in caring for silver jewelry, including the use of low abrasive phosphate free detergent cleaner or chemically treated jewelry cleaning cloths. Some even use toothpaste although they may be left with perceivably dull scratches.
Silver jewelry is gaining popularity with a consumer public which is interested in affordability, style and quality. When polished, silver shines as gloriously as white gold. Retailers find that consumers are buying silver engagement rings for daily use as they store their diamond and gold rings for special occasions. Young people who want to express themselves with jewelry are turning to silver as a suitable alternative to expensive gold jewelry. Online retailers like jewelrypayless.com, bluenile.com and tiffany.com are expanding their silver product lines in anticipation of more demand as the rise of the silver jewelry industry continues.