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Everything you need to know about Silver

Silver has been a precious metal for thousands of years. Silver ornaments and decorations have been found in royal tombs dating back as far as 4000 BC. Treasured not only like gold for its value as a metal, but for its medical healing properties.
Most precious metals like silver, palladium and platinum are by-products of mining other metals like copper and nickel.
Silver was extensively mined in America but now Mexico is the largest silver producer. Followed by Poland, China, Bolivia, Turkey, Peru and Australia along with some smaller producers.
The quality and purity of silver depends upon two main factors, the mixture of metals its obtained from and the amount of impurities removed in refining it.
For example, some silver may contain dangerous amounts of other metals like Cadmium and lead.
UK Sterling silver contains 92.5 percent of silver and 7.5% of other metal, usually copper and nickel and hallmarked as fineness of 925. Whereas Jewelry and continental silver is an alloy containing 80% silver and 20 percent copper and nickel (800 fine) and sometimes as low as only 60% silver. The reason behind reducing the percentage of silver is to make the jewellery stronger as silver is a soft metal. It also makes it more profitable for the jeweler, though the downside for the end user is that they may experience skin reaction or marking due to the copper and/or other impurities.
Whereas fine silver is 99.99% pure and mainly used in medical or electronic applications or sold as silver bullion in bars. It is very soft and unsuitable for most jewellery as will scratch and deform easily. Fine silver is used a lot for producing colloidal silver liquid renowned for its anti bacterial and virus qualities.
While pure silver is a natural medicine and used as such for thousands of years, poorly refined and cheaper silver may contain traces elements of other not so good elements like cadmium and lead which is known as a toxin and carcinogen. Cadmium is added in the smelting process as this makes the process easier and cheaper by eliminating some of the oxidization from oxygen absorption of the silver. Cadmium is also used where silver plating is done as it helps adhesion. So if using to make colloidal silver or other medical use, only ever use pure 99.9% silver.
Much silver from the far East, especially China often has Cadmium and lead added to the silver to make it easier to produce and draw into wire or making jewellery. This makes it much cheaper to produce as lead is very cheap. Hence why silver jewellery from China is considerably less than spot silver price on places like Ebay and other online shops which are flooded with pages of cheap silver jewellery. Although its illegal to import this into the UK, EU and USA unless it contains no more than 0.01% cadmium due to its dangerous effect on humans, the markets especially online are flooded with it. So buyer beware. If it seems too good to be true, it normally is.
For cheapness, Cadmium is also mixed instead of silver in gold to produce a paler yellow or rose colour gold.

If you have a small budget, the safest way to save money with silver jewellery yet get all the benefits of texture, look and last ability is to buy fine quality 925 'filled' silver. Unlike 'plated' which is only microns thickness and will quickly wear away with use, filled silver is solid silver surrounding another internal metal such as jewellers brass, copper or stainless steel. You could wear it a lifetime without wearing the silver away and nobody would ever know the difference. An advantage of filled silver is the added durability and strength of chains, especially thin ones which in plain silver are weaker and often snap.


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