On Some Properties and Qualities of Silver (for Jewelry)

Silver is the most malleable metal after gold, and has a pleasing rich white luster when polished. Silver has a long history of use in jewelry and other ornamental crafts, and is also very important to the industrial and scientific fields.  It’s wide availability and ease of work-ability has made it a prized precious metal through the centuries.

100% silver is usually termed “fine silver”. Generally 100% silver is not firm enough to hold its intended shape under normal use (for jewelry). Copper is commonly mixed with silver to make it harder and more resistant to bending. If you have a mixture of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper this is called “925 Sterling Silver”. This mixture is better suited for making a silver bracelet or ring for example than pure 100% silver. If you would be wearing a silver bangle bracelet of 100% silver and put your wrist down on a hard surface you could very easily scratch your jewelry, or even bend it. Or imagine how easily you might scratch a 100% silver ring wearing it on your finger every day. Gold has this same softness problem, which is why most gold rings for example are only 14 karat -50% pure gold (other metals are mixed to make it harder)

When creating jewelry, great care must be taken when soldering silver. The difference between the melting point of the silver and the solder is small- the solder melts as a slightly higher temperature than the silver. When a silversmith creates a men’s silver Cuban link bracelet for example she has to solder each link closed, being very careful to not accidentally melt the actual silver link as she melts the solder. This takes practice.