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Shimmer and Shine, Let Silver be Mine

Humans have long been entranced by sparkling silver: as jewelry, coinage, high-status homewares and status symbols ... and far more besides. Silver is often used to celebrate milestones, achievements, celebrations, and ceremonies, as well as for its beautiful ornamental value.

sterling silver atwood jewelers salem nh

But how much do you know about silver? What’s sterling silver?

Silver is one among seven metals of antiquity that were known to prehistoric humans, the others being gold, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury because it has been in use for so long the history of its discovery and early use aren’t known.

It's a more reactive metal than gold and is harder to extract from its ores when mined. This meant that in antiquity supplies of silver were rarer and thus costlier until around 1500 BC when the Egyptians discovered new methods of refining it.

Sterling silver is an alloyed form of silver that is much more suitable to use in jewelry and other metalwork. Buried within the crust, silver has been recognized around the world as a valuable metal. We have mined, worn, and marveled at it since it was first discovered.

No one knows for sure when the first silver alloy was created, but we do know that it was widely used in the 11th century. In some of the coin's earliest designs, two small stars floated above the king's shoulders — in Old English, the word sterling translates as "like a little star," which is one possible origin of the word sterling.

The easiest way to tell if a piece is sterling silver is to look for top quality. According to international standards, all-alloy should be marked with top quality, which clearly states the precious metal content of the jewelry. Common sterling silver markers include:

  • SterlingSterling silver

  • Ster

  • 92.5

  • .925

  • 925

Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver. During this form, the metal is gorgeous and suffers from minimal tarnish, but it's generally too soft and malleable for several uses, including making most jewelry.


In many cases, the silver jewelry you own will be hallmarked or stamped with 925 (sterling silver) or 999 (fine silver).

However, not all silver jewelry is hallmarked as it isn’t a legal requirement altogether. We feel that for few designs the hallmark can detract from the finish of the piece.

Sterling silver is almost completely made of pure silver, with a small addition of another metal for durability. But how does sterling silver compare to fine silver?

1. Appearance

2. Strength

3. Price

4. Maintenance


What makes sterling silver such a great material for jewelry? Here are some of the characteristics that make it such an attractive material for jewelers and designers.

1. Durable and Lightweight

2. Customizable

3. Easily Finished

sterling silver Celtic knot rings


To ensure you're getting the best quality sterling silver, make sure sellers have products with clearly-marked silver content. Look for items with 92.5 percent silver content, and skim the reviews of previous customers — see if the company truly values its visitors.

We offer artisan-designed pieces at a reasonable price, so you’ll find unique jewelry you love without worrying about the cost. Browse our collection of sterling silver jewelry and discover the sparkling and inspiring beauty of our sterling silver first-hand!


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