Why Italian Silver Is Better Than Anything Out There!
Italian Silver – Nothing else shines like this
For many people, it can be difficult to understand the difference between two commonly used terms: sterling silver and Italian silver.
The first thing to understand is that sterling silver is a type of silver alloy and Italian silver is a style and quality of craftsmanship.
Silver comes in a number of grades based on its purity.
Grades of Silver Alloys
.999 fine silver – Contains .001 trace metals.
.9584 Britannia – 95.84% silver + 4.16% copper.
.925 sterling – 92.5% silver + 7.5% copper.
.900 coin – 90% silver + 10% copper.
.830 European – 83% silver + 17% copper.
.800 European – 80% silver + 20% copper.
Most quality jewellery is made from sterling silver, .925. This is stamped on the item someplace to denote the level of purity and hence the quality of the item.
When buying silver for investment, people purchase .999 fine silver giving them the purest silver possible. The other grades of silver have applications ranging from jewellery to industrial uses.
What is Italian silver?
Italian silver denotes a particular level of craftsmanship. In fact, Italian silver craftsmanship is so good that the Italian government protects it by putting a stamp on every piece. This stamp makes it clear that the piece, whether it’s jewellery or a teapot or what have you, was made by a certified Italian craftsperson.
The reason that Italian silver work is so prized is the fine quality of both the metal and the workmanship that goes into each piece. For over two thousand years, Italian craftsmen have been making much of the world’s finest wearable art. In fact, the metal chain got its start in Italy. The art has been handed down from master to apprentice since the Roman Empire.
In 1870, the Italian government unified and created a system to help consumers identify the makers of every piece of silver jewellery and housewares. Each piece is stamped with the purity (.800 or .925) and a mark that has been approved by the Italian government. Often, this mark accompanies the maker’s mark that shows who made the piece.
What to know about Italian silver
Silver making and jewellery in Italy is a competitive market. Designers and craftsmen are always working to create unique designs and outstanding quality.
When looking for Italian silver, it starts with finding a reputable dealer. Just because it has a mark on it doesn’t mean it was actually made in Italy. While Italian silver is not outrageously expensive, a necklace that is truly Italian silver will cost you more than the $3 or $5 that many sites offer.
The next step is the fun part – finding a style of jewellery that you like. Some dealers represent their own manufacturing house while others represent multiple designers and manufacturers.
Look for the Italian silver mark which consists of lozenge style imprint (think oval with sharp points on the ends), a 5-pointed star, and the purity level (.925 or .800). Pure silver is soft and not suitable as jewellery or for any other purpose than saving for investment, so don’t look for .999 on anything useful.
While pendants, rings, and other items tend to be entirely unique, there are specific types of chains that are denoted by the type of links.
- Curb – A chain where the links interlock with each other when laid flat. It tends to have a flat appearance.
- Rolo or Belcher – A classic ring-style chain that resembles industrial chain. It can range from extremely delicate to quite robust in the thickness of the metal.
- Franco – This chain is a repeating arrow style with a box design. This is a very trendy chain since the reflective surfaces are abundant.
- Gucci-Style – The Gucci-style is a chain that has a centre bar in each ring. Subtle, but powerful, this is a style has been part of haute couture for generations. This is also sold in a “puffy” style where links are given a rounded, fuller appearance.
- Box chain – Each link is a box locked into the two neighbouring boxes. While this chain is made all over the world, the Italians have perfected the technique for making the boxes precise cubes.
- Figaro – This is a flattened link chain that has alternating link sizes, usually 2 or 3 short with one long.
- Rope – The links are manipulated to make the chain appear to be rope.
- Singapore – This is a twisted curb chain where the links are made with twisted and braided fibres
- Snake – Snake chain appears to be flexible tubes. They are made of interlocked rings and have no visible links.
- Spiga – Also known as a wheat chain, these are made from four strands of twisted oval links.
- Bead or Ball – Seen often on light fixtures, this chain uses balls that have a link between them. They are popularly made with the balls very close together.
Pendants, Earrings, and More
Silver is a favourite for pendants, earrings and more. The colour reminds one of the moon. While some silvers tarnish quickly, a high-quality sterling silver will keep its colour for a long time.
Silver is a great receptacle for diamonds and other precious stones. You’ll also often see it with gold and other metals added as accents.
Because silver is relatively inexpensive compared to gold, you can get a very high quality, .925 piece of jewellery for much, much less than you could buy it in gold. Recently, pure silver is 1/100th cost of gold. In fact, of the precious metals on the commodities markets, gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, silver is only one priced low enough to be purchasable by the average person.
A note about tarnish
Pure silver doesn’t tarnish. It’s actually the copper that’s in the alloy that tarnishes. This might seem like a bad thing, but in reality, the tarnish protects the metal underneath. Tarnish only affects the top few layers of molecules, unlike rust which will keep eating its way through iron and steel.
In other words, if you’re going to store your silver, let it tarnish. That layer of brown or black is keeping the silver underneath pristine.
Buying Italian Silver
Italian silver is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an outstanding work of art in one of the world’s precious metals. The craftspeople of Italy have learned to make silver everything that it can be: a perfect reflection of the light and beauty of the moon that it’s associated with.