The Jewelry Insider

June 1, 2011

Silver jewelry isn’t the only way to wear this precious metal. Learn the history, myths and legends about silver and never look at the silver jewelry styles in your collection the same way again.

Silver: The Metal of the Moon

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Silver is a soft, white, lustrous precious metal that has been revered since its discovery over 6,000 years ago. While the ancient Egyptians considered gold to be a perfect metal, and gave it the symbol of a circle, silver was the closest to gold in perfection, and was given the symbol of a semi-circle. Later this semi-circle led to the half moon symbol, likely due to the similarity between the shining metal and the moon glow.

European folklore associates silver as an antidote to various maladies and mythical monsters. Notably, silver was believed to be a repellent against vampires and it was also believed that a werewolf could only be killed by a weapon or bullet made of silver. Gold certainly can’t make that claim.

Recorded use of silver to prevent infection dates to ancient Greece and Rome. It was rediscovered in the Middle Ages, where it was used to disinfect water and food during storage and also for the treatment of burns and wounds. In the 19th century, sailors on long ocean voyages would put silver coins in barrels of water and wine to keep the liquid pure. Pioneers in America used the same idea as they made their journey from coast to coast.

The tradition of giving defined gifts to mark a wedding anniversary began several hundred years ago in the Germanic region of medieval Europe. The ‘Silver’ anniversary was one of the first significant celebratory marriage landmarks, marking the twenty-fifth year of marriage with the gifting of a silver garland. It’s a tradition that is still widely practiced today.

The most glowing use of this precious metal throughout history has been in jewelry. Silver has one of the highest reflectivities of any metal, giving it unmatched brilliance – a perfect match for jewelry design. And despite all of these invaluable properties, silver is relatively abundant and easy to extract from ore, so it is more affordable than other precious metals, like gold and
platinum.

Silver jewelry comes in innumerable styles from bold costume pieces to simple silver bands. Silver can also be paired with diamonds and gemstones to create a dazzling – yet affordable – fine jewelry statement. While we might not have to worry about werewolves these days, it’s clear silver jewelry has made its mark as an essential component of every woman’s jewelry box. And if it keeps the vampires away – all the better!

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