People have been adorning themselves with silver for millennia, with the earliest pieces thought to date as far back as 1000 BCE. We seem to be naturally drawn to precious materials, using silver jewellery as tokens of affection, status, or to pass value from generation to generation.
Through the ages, we have honed our methods of silvercraft and developed more precise measures of value and purity; the 13th century brought us the standard of 92.5 sterling silver (named after the percentage of sterling that is actual silver). This is also around the same time you can begin to see hallmarks appear that verify the materials in any particular piece of jewellery.
Silver is, by far, the most commonly used metal in jewellery, and at times was considered more valuable than gold. As a metal, it has vastly more uses due to its durability and inherent properties, and stores of silver have had no small part in shaping cultures and countries around the world throughout history.
During the 4th millennium BCE, silversmiths formed a subtle cornerstone of society by manufacturing currency, jewellery, and other treasures according to their era. Extracting silver from ore and crafting it has always been a highly specialised skill, often taught through guilds and apprenticeships and held in high esteem.
While silversmithing is still very much a distinguished profession, we live in an age where anyone can book a class or search the internet to learn to craft their own silver jewellery. Low grade materials are easy to come by, enabling practically any of us to work a rudimentary design.
What lies beyond most of us, however, is the natural gift of artistry that separates the charming pieces from the truly magnificent. There is no substitute for a well-crafted engagement ring or statement necklace – no replacement for the centuries’ worth of silvercraft skills passed on and practised for a lifetime.
The silversmiths of today tend to be educated in the fine arts, perhaps even with a master’s degree in the subject and a focus on smithing, metal sculpture, and jewellery design. Good jewellery is made from the heart, imagined by those with a keen eye for aesthetics and a sound knowledge of the limits of their precious materials.
One thing has stayed true through the eons of silver – those who specialise in working with the metal are usually also those best suited to mark the most important milestones in life and history. Whether you need an engagement ring, a coin, or a crown of jewels, silver jewellery is undoubtedly the timeless, reliable bookmark you need to mark the pages of history that you wish to revisit again and again.