Whether one decides to buy silver jewellery online or from a store, the term “sterling” before silver seems to be too confusing to many.
Whether one decides to buy silver jewellery online or from a store, the term “sterling” before silver seems to be too confusing to many. Even at the time of purchase. Simply stating that sterling silver is an alloy of silver and copper, the percentage being 92.5% and 7.5% respectively, doesn’t seem to matter much. Leaving the buyers of sterling silver bracelet, jhumkas, and pendants, in doubt. So what’s the best way to make someone understand the importance of a metal, other than keeping its chemical composition in perspective? The metal’s history, maybe? So let us see trace the historical roots of sterling silver to understand whether the term ‘sterling’ is just a modern and fancy made up term to lure today’s buyers, or one with any historical significance. And to understand what it really means to own a metal that has a past as beautiful the metal in question.
While first evidence of silver mining dates back to 3000 B.C., the first mention of sterling silver’s and its purity can be dated back to Saxon times. Even the word ‘silver’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘seolfor’.The metal was first subjected to metallurgical tests to determine its purity at some time in 1158, during the reign of English king Henry II. But still, there was an absence of a legal definition for this Saxon metal.
So for the first time, in 1275, a written order passed by Edward Longshanks, King of England, specified that 12 Troy ounces of silver should contain:
11 ounces 2 1⁄4 pennyweights of silver, and
17 3⁄4 pennyweights of alloy, with
20 pennyweights to the Troy ounce.
During the English colonialization of America, sterling silver was used for currency and as a general good. As colonial America couldn't establish any standard for sterling silver at that time, due to an absence of the assay office, the nation’s goldsmiths stuck to the standards set by London Golden Smith Company; also known as Worshipful Company of Goldsmith. Products like spoons and teapot legs were made a reality by working upon silver ingots, which were obtained after melting sterling silver. One name that often tops the names of other American silver goldsmiths is that of American revolutionary, and famed Sterling Silversmith, Paul Revere.
Sterling Silver in Spirituality; and Myths
Other than its history rooting from two great nations, what also entices sterling silver lovers is its relation to spirituality.
On its spiritual side, this silver type is said to be a mirror of the soul. It is said to encourage inward reflection and self-contentment. Known as the metal of moon by many Alchemists in ancient times, the metal also connects to the feminine aspect and is associated with the sea, moon, and the lunar goddess.
In European mythology, and American and English pop movie culture too, silver is said to be the doom of vampires.
If one goes by the history of sterling silver, many other facts regarding this precious metal can be found. All relating and pointing to the very fact that jewelry like a silver bracelet, rings, earrings, etc. are not recent developments, but historical, or maybe ancient one too. So from next time on, if you are planning to buy silver jewellery online, then don’t let the naysayers deflect you from your course. And rest assured, because you are going to own a metal that has proved its mettle from time to time.