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Encyclopedia > Sterling silver

The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. Sterling is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. Millesimal fineness is a system of denoting the purity of platinum, gold and silver alloys by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. ... Steel is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation). ...

Pair of sterling silver forks.
Pair of sterling silver forks.

Fine silver (99.9% pure) is generally too soft for producing large functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength, while at the same time preserving the ductility and beauty of the precious metal. Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intent to improve various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish. These replacement metals include germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as a variety of other additives, including silicon and boron. A number of alloys have appeared in recent years, formulated to lessen firescale or to inhibit tarnish, and this has sparked heavy competition among the various manufacturers, who are rushing to make claims of having the best formulation. However, no one alloy has emerged to replace copper as the industry standard, and alloy development is a very active area. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 252 × 598 pixelsFull resolution (313 × 743 pixel, file size: 66 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 252 × 598 pixelsFull resolution (313 × 743 pixel, file size: 66 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Gold is a highly ductile metal Ductility is a mechanical property which describes how much plastic deformation a material can sustain before fracture occurs. ... For the CSI episode of the same name, see Precious Metal (CSI episode). ... Steel is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0. ... Porosity is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is measured as a fraction, between 0–1, or as a percentage between 0–100%. The term porosity is used in multiple fields including manufacturing, earth sciences and construction. ... Firescale, also known as firestain, is a red or purple stain that appears on mixtures of silver and copper, such as sterling silver. ... Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that develops over copper, brass, silver, aluminum as well as a degree of semi-reactive metals as they undergo oxidation. ... General Name, Symbol, Number germanium, Ge, 32 Chemical series metalloids Group, Period, Block 14, 4, p Appearance grayish white Standard atomic weight 72. ... General Name, symbol, number zinc, Zn, 30 Chemical series transition metals Group, period, block 12, 4, d Appearance bluish pale gray Standard atomic weight 65. ... General Name, Symbol, Number platinum, Pt, 78 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 10, 6, d Appearance grayish white Standard atomic weight 195. ... Not to be confused with Silicone. ... For other uses, see Boron (disambiguation). ... Firescale, also known as firestain, is a red or purple stain that appears on mixtures of silver and copper, such as sterling silver. ... Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that develops over copper, brass, silver, aluminum as well as a degree of semi-reactive metals as they undergo oxidation. ...

Contents

Origin of the alloy metal

Although there is much confusion over the origin of the word "sterling", there is general agreement that the sterling alloy originated in what is now continental Europe, and was being used for commerce as early as the 12th century in the area of what is now northern Germany.


Origin of the word "sterling", used to refer to the silver alloy

The word "sterling", used in reference to the 0.925 grade of silver, emerged in England by the 13th century. The terms "sterling" and "pound sterling" acquired their meaning in more than a century, and from convergent sources. There are three possible origins for the word "sterling". Two originate from 12th and 13th century coinage, and one is generally discounted. The word could have derived from the Old English word "stiere", meaning "strong, firm, immovable". For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... GBP redirects here. ...


Starling theory, discounted

Although marks of birds have been used in some coins of Edward the Confessor, sterling is not likely to have been derived from starling, as the word for starling at the time was spelt stær. If the coin had been named after the bird, it would have been called starling. This article is about the bird family. ...


Mint mark theory

The 1955 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary states that the early Middle English name sterling was presumably descriptive of small stars that were visible on early Norman pennies. (Old English: steorling.) The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of...


"Easterling" theory

An alternative explanation put forth by Walter de Pinchebek circa 1300 is that sterling silver may have been known first as "Easterling Silver". The term "Easterling Silver" is believed to have been used to refer to the grade of silver that had originally been used as the local currency in an area of Germany, known as "The Easterling".


This "Easterling" area consisted of five towns in northern Germany that banded together in the 12th century under the name Hanseatic League. The Hanseatic League proceeded to engage in considerable commerce with England. In payment for English cattle and grain, the League used their local currency. This currency was in the form of 92.5% silver coins. England soon learned that these coins, which they referred to as "the coins of the Easterlings", were of a reliably high quality and hardness. Carta marina of the Baltic Sea region (1539). ... For general information about the genus, including other species of cattle, see Bos. ...


King Henry II set about to adopt the alloy as the standard for English currency. He recruited metal refiners from The Easterling and put them to work making silver coins for England. The silver these refiners produced came into usage as currency by 1158 in the form of what are now known as "Tealby Pennies", and was eventually adopted as a standard alloy throughout England. The original name "Easterling Silver" later became known as simply "sterling silver". Henry II of England (called Curtmantle; 25 March 1133 – 6 July 1189) ruled as King of England (1154–1189), Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. ... Steel is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0. ... The Plantagenets (1154–1485) King Henry II ascended the throne in 1154 as the first of the Plantagenet dynasty. ...


The original English silver penny was 22½ troy grains of fine silver (as pure as can readily be made). 22½ troy grains is equivalent to 30 so called tower grains or one tower pennyweight. When Henry II reformed the coinage, he based the new coinage on the then international standard of the troy pound rather than the pre-conquest English standard of the tower pound. A troy pennyweight is 24 troy grains. To maintain the same amount of silver (and thus the same value) in a coin that weighed more required less silver. It required that the alloy be only 92½% pure.


Though coin weights and silver purity varied considerably (reaching a low point before the reign of Elizabeth I, who reinstated sterling silver coinage for the first time since the early 14th century), the pound sterling was used as currency in England from the 12th century until the middle of the 20th century. Specifically this was in the silver coins of the British Empire: Britain, British colonies, and some former British colonies. This sterling coin silver is not to be confused with coin silver. For a comprehensive list of the territories that formed the British Empire, see Evolution of the British Empire. ... The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country in western Europe, and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the European Union, and NATO. Usually known simply as the United Kingdom, the UK, or (inaccurately) as Great Britain or Britain, the UK has four constituent... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... Millesimal fineness is a system of denoting the purity of platinum, gold and silver alloys by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. ...


Sterling silver, no longer used in circulating currency, is still used for flatware, jewellery and plate, and is a grade of silver respected for both relatively high purity and sufficient hardness to form durable objects in daily use. Starch_polyester disposable cutlery Cutlery refers to any hand utensil used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food. ... For the Korean music group, see Jewelry (group). ... Plate has several meanings: A plate electrode in a vacuum tube. ...


A century of dining regalia: the silver craze of 1840 to 1940

19th Century Tiffany & Co. Pitcher. Circa 1871. Pitcher has paneled sides, and repousse design with shells, scrolls and flowers. Top edge is repousse arrowhead leaf design.
19th Century Tiffany & Co. Pitcher. Circa 1871. Pitcher has paneled sides, and repousse design with shells, scrolls and flowers. Top edge is repousse arrowhead leaf design.

From about 1840 to somewhere around 1940 in the United States and Europe, sterling silver flatware became de rigueur when setting a proper table. In fact, there was a marked increase in the number of silver companies that emerged during that period. Image File history File links TiffanyPitcher. ... Image File history File links TiffanyPitcher. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Look up de rigueur in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The height of the silver craze was during the 50-year period from 1870 to 1920. Flatware lines during this period sometimes included up to 100 different types of pieces. In conjunction with this, the dinner went from three courses to sometimes ten or more. There was a soup course, a salad course, a fruit course, a cheese course, an antipasto course, a fish course, the main course and a pastry or dessert course.


Individual eating implements often included forks (dinner fork, place fork, salad fork, pastry fork, shrimp or cocktail fork), spoons (teaspoon, coffee spoon, demitasse spoon, bouillon spoon, gumbo soup spoon, iced tea spoon) and knives (dinner knife, place knife, butter spreader, fruit knife, cheese knife). This was especially true during the Victorian time period, when etiquette dictated that nothing should be touched with one's fingers.


Serving pieces were often elaborately decorated and pierced and embellished with ivory, and could include any or all of the following: carving knife and fork, salad knife and fork, cold meat fork, punch ladle, soup ladle, gravy ladle, casserole serving spoon, berry spoon, lasagna server, macaroni server, asparagus server, cucumber server, tomato server, olive spoon, cheese scoop, fish knife and fork, pastry server, petit four server, cake knife, bon bon spoon, sugar sifter or caster and crumb remover with brush. For other uses, see Cake (disambiguation). ...


Flatware sets were often accompanied by tea services, hot water pots, chocolate pots, trays and salvers, goblets, demitasse cups and saucers, liqueur cups, bouillon cups, egg cups, sterling plates, napkin rings, water and wine pitchers and coasters, candelabra and even elaborate centerpieces. Starch_polyester disposable cutlery Cutlery refers to any hand utensil used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food. ...


In fact, the craze with sterling even extended to business (sterling page clips, mechanical pencils, letter openers, calling card boxes, cigarette cases), to the boudoir (sterling dresser trays, mirrors, hair and suit brushes, pill bottles, manicure sets, shoehorns, perfume bottles, powder bottles, hair clips) and even to children (cups, flatware, rattles, christening sets). A ratchet-type mechanical pencil A mechanical pencil, lead pencil or clicky pencil (other names include clutch pencil, or Pacer after a Papermate model, a genericized trademark) is a pencil containing an internal mechanism which pushes (propels) the thin graphite lead through the tip. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Starch_polyester disposable cutlery Cutlery refers to any hand utensil used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food. ... A rattle may be: bird-scaring rattle, a Slovene device used to drive birds off vineyards and a folk instrument football rattle, a noisy ratchet device for showing approval, used by sports fans. ...


A number of factors converged to make sterling fall out of favor around the time of World War II. The cost of labor rose (sterling pieces were all still mostly hand-made, with only the basics being done by machine). Only the wealthy could afford the large number of servants required for fancy dining with ten courses. And changes in aesthetics resulted in people desiring simpler dinnerware that was easier to clean. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Hallmarks

Over the years, most countries in the world have developed their own systems of hallmarking silver. The purpose of hallmark application is manifold: A hallmark is a mark or series of marks struck on items made of precious metals — platinum, gold, silver and in some nations, palladium. ...

  • To indicate the purity of the silver alloy used in the manufacture or hand-crafting of the piece.
  • To identify the silversmith or company that made the piece.
  • To note the date and/or location of the manufacture.

Miscellaneous

In addition to the uses of sterling silver mentioned above, there are some little known uses of sterling:

  • Medical instruments: Evidence of silver and/or silver-alloy surgical and medical instruments has been found in civilisations as early as Ur, Hellenistic-era Egypt and Rome, and their use continued until largely replaced in Western countries in the mid to late 20th century by cheaper, disposable plastic items. Its natural malleability is an obvious physical advantage, but it also exhibits medically-specific utility, including the fact that it is naturally aseptic, and, in respect of modern medical practices, it is resistant to antiseptics, heat sterilisation and body fluids.
  • Musical instruments: Due to sterling silver having a very special characteristic in sound resonance, some brasswind instrument manufacturers use 92.5% sterling silver as the material for making their instruments, including the flute and saxophones. For example, some leading saxophone manufactuers such as Selmer and Yanagisawa have crafted some of their saxophones from sterling silver, which they believe will make the instruments more resonant and colorful in timbre.

This article is about resonance in physics. ... The Selmer Company was a manufacturer of musical instruments started in Paris, France in the early 1900s. ... Yanagisawa Wind Instruments is a Japanese woodwind company known for its professional saxophones. ...

Tarnish and corrosion

As the purity of the silver decreases, the problem of corrosion or tarnishing increases. For the hazard, see corrosive. ...


Chemically, silver is not very reactive — it does not react with oxygen or water at ordinary temperatures, so does not easily form a silver oxide. However, the other metal in the alloy, usually copper, may react with oxygen in the air. This article is about the chemical element and its most stable form, or dioxygen. ...


The black silver sulfide (Ag2S) is among the most insoluble salts in aqueous solution, a property that is exploited for separating silver ions from other positive ions. Silver sulfide (or Silver sulphide in British English) is a black compound of silver. ... Solubility is a chemical property referring to the ability for a given substance, the solute, to dissolve in a solvent. ... Drinking water This article focuses on water as we experience it every day. ... Making a saline water solution by dissolving table salt (NaCl) in water This article is about chemical solutions. ... This article is about the electrically charged particle. ... A cation is an ion with positive charge. ...


Sodium chloride (NaCl) or common table salt is known to corrode silver-copper alloy, typically seen in silver salt shakers where corrosion appears around the holes in the top.

Wikibooks
Wikibooks' Do-It-Yourself has more about this subject:

Several products have been developed for the purpose of polishing silver that serve to remove sulfur from the metal without damaging or warping it. Because harsh polishing and buffing can permanently damage and devalue a piece of antique silver, valuable items are typically hand-polished to preserve the unique patinas of older pieces. Techniques such as wheel polishing, which are typically performed by professional jewelers or silver repair companies, are reserved for extreme tarnish or corrosion. See also Tarnish, Removal. Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo-en. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... The Statue of Liberty gets its green color from the patina formed on its copper surface Patinas are chemical compounds formed on the surface of metals. ... Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that develops over copper, brass, silver, aluminum as well as a degree of semi-reactive metals as they undergo oxidation. ...


References

  • All About Antique Silver with International Hallmarks, 2nd printing (2007), by Diana Sanders Cinamon, AAA Publishing, San Bernardino, CA. Paperback, sewn pages, contains 269 pages, 154 pictures (most in color), silver hallmarks for 24 countries including England, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. Also includes British design registry numbers, U.S. Design and Utility patent numbers and metric conversion tables. An outstanding silver reference book that gives identification and dating clues for hollowware and flatware.
  • Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, by lexicographer Eric Partridge.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary, by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner.
  • Silver in America, 1840 - 1940: A Century of Splendor, third edition (1997), by Charles L. Venable; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY.
  • Tiffany Silver Flatware, 1845 - 1905: When Dining Was an Art, by William P. Hood, Jr.; 1999; published by the Antique Collectors Club Ltd., Suffolk, England.
  • The Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, revised fourth edition (1998), by Dorothy T. Rainwater and Judy Redfield; Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA.
  • The Book of Old Silver, English - American - Foreign, With All Available Hallmarks Including Sheffield Plate Marks, by Seymour B. Wyler; 1937; Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, NY.
  • International Hallmarks on Silver Collected by Tardy, 5th English Language reprint (2000); original publication date unknown, date of first softcover publication 1985; author unknown; publisher unknown.

External links

For the Korean music group, see Jewelry (group). ... For the CSI episode of the same name, see Precious Metal (CSI episode). ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... For other uses, see Palladium (disambiguation). ... General Name, Symbol, Number platinum, Pt, 78 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 10, 6, d Appearance grayish white Standard atomic weight 195. ... General Name, Symbol, Number rhodium, Rh, 45 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 9, 5, d Appearance silvery white metallic Standard atomic weight 102. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... Steel is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0. ... Electrum coin of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. ... Rose gold is a gold and copper alloy widely used for specialized jewelry due to its reddish color. ... White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, such as silver or palladium. ... In chemistry, the term base metal is used informally to refer to a metal that oxidizes or corrodes relatively easily, and reacts variably with diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl) to form hydrogen. ... Brazen redirects here. ... This article is about the metal alloy. ... For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation). ... The 630 foot (192 m) high, stainless-clad (type 304) Gateway Arch defines St. ... For other uses, see Gemstone (disambiguation). ... Aventurine is used for a number of applications, including landscape stone, building stone, aquaria, monuments, and jewelry. ... For other uses, see Agate (disambiguation). ... The mineral or gemstone chrysoberyl, not to be confused with beryl, is an aluminate of beryllium with the formula BeAl2O4. ... For other uses, see Amethyst (disambiguation). ... This article is about the mineral. ... For other uses, see Carnelian (disambiguation). ... Citrine Citrine, also called citrine quartz is an amber-colored gemstone. ... This article is about the mineral. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Garnet (disambiguation). ... A selection of antique, hand-crafted Chinese jade (jadeite) buttons Unworked Jade Jade is used as an ornamental stone, the term jade is applied to two different rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals. ... Polished jasper pebble, one inch (2. ... For other uses, see Malachite (disambiguation). ... A block of lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli is one of the oldest of all gems, with a history of use stretching back 7,000 years. ... Moonstone is typically a potassium aluminium silicate, with the chemical formula KAlSi3O8 [1] The most common moonstone is of the mineral Adularia. ... This article is about the mineral. ... For other uses, see Opal (disambiguation). ... This article is about the mineral. ... -1... This article is about the mineral. ... For other uses, see Sapphire (disambiguation). ... Sodalite is a rare, rich royal blue mineral widely enjoyed as an ornamental stone. ... Sunstone, a feldspar exhibiting in certain directions a brilliant spangled appearance, which has led to its use as an ornamental stone. ... Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite discovered in the Meralani Hills of northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha. ... Polished tigers eye gemstone Tigers eye (also Tigers eye, Tiger eye) is a chatoyant gemstone that is usually yellow- to red-brown, with a silky luster. ... This article is about the mineral or gemstone. ... For other uses, see Gemstone (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Amber (disambiguation). ... Copal is a type of resin, sometimes referred to as pom (the Maya language name). ... Precious coral or red coral is the common name given to Corallium rubrum and several related species of marine coral. ... A sample of jet Jet is a geological material that is not considered a mineral in the true sense of the word, but rather, a mineraloid derived from decaying wood under extreme pressure, thus organic in origin. ... For other uses, see Pearl (disambiguation). ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
What You Should Know About Sterling Silver - from Jewelers of America & FACETS (1880 words)
Silver is an element that occurs naturally in the earth and is generally considered too soft in its pure form for practical use in jewelry, giftware or flatware.
Sterling silver is always an appropriate gift to commemorate an important event in a woman's life or to simply say that you care.
Sterling silver cuff links, available in traditional geometric shapes or "theme" styles featuring images taken from sports and hobbies, are a must for almost any man. Silver tie bars, I.D. bracelets, signet rings and belt buckles are all widely available in many styles and make great accessories for the contemporary man's wardrobe.
Wholesale Sterling Silver Jewelry (501 words)
Sterling silver is composed of 92.5% silver alloyed with copper to strengthen it.
Hallmarking of silver places a stamped mark on the silver to identify its origin and purity and is often an important part of determining the value of a collectible piece.
The cleaning of sterling silver can be a burdensome task, which is why much of the silver jewelry manufactured today has various types of anti-tarnish finishes ranging from a flash overlay of pure silver, waxes, proprietary coatings and the currently very popluar rhodium plating.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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