The Beauty of Sterling Silver

Monogrammed sterling silver jewelry and gifts are some of the most desirable and unique gifts available on the market. Engraved with initials onto a necklace, bracelet or ring has been a tradition for centuries. The lightest color of all of the precious metals, sterling silver has been known for centuries for its gorgeous appearance and functional use.

Even thought it is harder than gold, sterling silver is still considered one of the softer metals. The versatility of sterling makes silver easy to hammer and shape into various forms and molds. Silver melts at a slightly lower temperature than gold with makes it delicate nature even more pristine. Dating back to the time of earliest man, silver has been known as a great and precious metal. The name "sterling" came into existence in the 12th-century. As payment for English cattle, an association of Germans compensated the British with silver coins called "Easterlings." It quickly came into being that Easterling was widely accepted as a standard of currency. The name was ultimately abbreviated to "Sterling," which is in modern day used to refer to the highest grade of silver metal. The official hallmark of sterling to a piece of plated silver indicates that it contains at least 92.5% of pure silver. The remaining 7.5% can be made up of any other metal alloy, most commonly copper.

It is common belief that a 100% silver content would be preferable, however that is not the case. Metal alloys with a silver content of more than 92.5% are too soft to be used without becoming severely. The secondary alloy is needed to make sure that the metal's stability is in place.

Silver in Other Forms

In addition to sterling silver there are many other affordable varieties and grades of silver available for more widespread use:

Fine Silver

Fine silver has a silver content of 99.9% or higher. Fine silver is much too soft to be used for everyday gifts such as jewelry and picture frames, jewelry boxes or tableware. This highest form of silver is used to make bullion bars for worldwide currency.

German Silver

German silver is basically consists of 80% silver and is commonly used for silverware, silver gifts and jewelry, and engraved jewelry boxes and trays. There is also a higher silver content that is 900 standard and is another high grade version of German silver, and has a 90% silver content. The best thing about German silver is that it is very affordable and can be used in various forms for inexpensive silver jewelry that will not tarnish or turn. When engraved with a monogram or name it is perfect for gift giving even to a collector of silver.

Silver Plate

Silver plate is the process of bonding a thin layer of silver to a base metal that is most commonly copper, brass, or nickel. Silverplate is much more affordable than sterling for this reason making it a great option for engraved silver picture frames and inexpensive silver gifts. Silverplated mint julep cups and jewelry boxes are both very common and affordable.

History of Sterling Silver as Tableware

Hosting a dinner party is just not quite the same without the appointments of sterling at the table. With its polished patina luster and timeless elegance the addition of silver has the power to turn any ordinary meal into an elaborate event. Although, due to the rise in cost of sterling it is not as commonplace as it once was a key accessory in setting a proper table. The use of sterling silver in fine dining was most common between 1840 the mid 1900's. Between 1870 and 1920 the production and sales of silver ramped up quite a bit to accommodate the growing demand.

At some point during the Victorian period in history it was considered vulgar to handle food without the use of a utensil. The status symbol for the elite when dining was sterling silver flatware. Silver flatware patterns were vast and often included upwards of 100 pieces. Formal dinners in the late 1800s and early 1900s were extravagant events often consisting of up to 10 courses. For each course a different set of silver utensils was necessary.

The obsession with silver did not stop in centuries past. The love of sterling silver is every bit as alive today in our culture among finer homes. Monogrammed silver gifts and decorative silver accents include sterling silver baby pacifier clips, and engraved silver picture frames. Monogrammed silver mint julep cups are a classic favorite for groomsmen gifts as well as cuff links and pocket watches and make a great keepsake for years to come. For bridesmaids, the gift of monogrammed silver jewelry is a must have. Engraved with a woman's initials makes for a wonderfully thoughtful and unique present. Luxuriously personalized wedding gifts in silver or for a special housewarming gift is a classic that will never go out of style.

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