Silver is a precious metal whose name comes from the Latin “argentum” which means “bright.”
Although it was a highly valuable resource in ancient Greece and Crete, Spain became one of the largest silver producing countries before silver extraction spread to central Europe.
Production advanced thanks to the development of a technique that used steam engines to mine the silver and to improvements in transportation. Around the same time, many new silver deposits were discovered and exploited throughout the world.
Silver is rare, found mainly in nugget-form in Mexico, Australia and China.
Silver has a gray color. Typically, when used to make jewellery, it is covered with a thin layer of rhodium that gives it a more uniform look and makes it wear better over time. However, many designers prefer silver’s natural color and rarely cover their jewellery in rhodium.
Like gold, silver is malleable and accordingly it cannot be used to make jewellery in its pure form.
Like other precious metals, silver is classified according to its level of purity and designated with different identifying hallmarks. In France, an alloy is recognized as a precious metal if it is at least 80% pure silver, but the silver typically used in jewellery is 92.5% pure, which is marked with an emblem of Minerva’s helmet. Alloys consisting of 80% pure silver are represented by the same emblem, but followed by the number 2.
WHITE bIRD label Le Gramme makes silver bracelets and rings, some models of which are sometimes brushed or polished.
Stephanie Schneider transforms her sensibility for pure and precise textures into delicate, timeless pieces of jewellery of the highest quality, with great dexterity and attention to details. She mixes materials ranging from mohair to silk and linen with traditional jeweler’s metals likes silver or vermeil.
Yasuko Azuma creates easy to wear jewellery inspired by natural elements that have been crafted from 18k yellow gold, silver and diamonds. Her pieces are textured – notice how perfectly the silver resembles the bark of a branch.
Silver jewellery tends to oxidize on contact with oxygen in the atmosphere. It is easy to erase this oxidation by applying specific silver-cleaning products with a soft cloth. Rinse and dry after cleaning.
Photo credits : M.Cohen, Le Gramme, Stephanie Schneider and Yasuko Azuma.