Using silver for jewelry making is older than modern civilization. Silver is among the oldest metals used by man, and the fact that it’s already been refined and used extensively during the time of the ancient Egyptians shows that silver’s here to stay, whether in jewelry or the popular imagination.
Silver has never had a rough time in places like the Parisian catwalks and fashion shows anywhere. In 2021, we saw a strong revival of silver in Hollywood, with the likes of Rihanna and Beyonce sporting silver.
Rihanna seems to have strong opinions about silver for jewelry making, too. The shimmering white metal remains a top-tier metal. Who could blame her? Silver is spectacularly beautiful, and silver for jewelry making has been consistent through the years and decades.
If you don’t believe us, look at our vintage and retro jewelry collections over our Far Fetched Imports collections.
Looking at any of the earrings, necklaces, and pins in that massive collection of retro and vintage jewelry pieces will show you that silver has been virtually unchanged since the eighties, and that’s a bit modern already, considering you’re reading this in 2022.
So, if you’re interested in finally crafting with metal beads like silver beads and silver findings, it’s super high time that you familiarize yourself with how silver came to be used in jewelry. It’s good to know where we come from as crafters so we know where we’re going!
Silver for Jewelry Making in Ancient Egypt
Beads and other silver for jewelry making were made of silver as early as the Predynastic Period, and this metal was widely utilized for Egyptian jewelry and worship artifacts until Roman times. There are addition, the eruptions in temples that ind
Since local geological resources are so scarce, a great deal of silver was likely imported from adjacent lands, unlike gold, which was undoubtedly taken from the Eastern Desert and Nubia.
Since silver for jewelry making is easily corroded by the corrosive salts typically present in Egyptian burial contexts, especially in the form of a hammered sheet, it is much less common to find silver artifacts in Egyptian tombs than gold or gold cupreous metals.
Little silver has been discovered that dates back before the early Middle Kingdom. However, some notable outliers came from the tomb of Hetepheres I, mother of Dynasty 4 king Khufu; these include a set of stone-crusted bangles.
The earliest examples of Egyptian silver for jewelry making come from women’s tombs near the temple of Mentuhotep II at Thebes.
Almost all of these silver for jewelry making is strung into beads, but one particularly intriguing as-amulet was made from silver wires and electrum bands.
Electrum is a naturally occurring gold and silver alloy containing more than 20% of the latter, as described by Pliny the Elder. Its hue varies from white to yellowish gold depending on its chemical makeup. In the past, considerably whiter electrum was frequently mistaken for silver if we were to base it on an ocular inspection alone.
Wah, a minor official, was found to have a large amount of silver on his body. In addition, wah wore two ball-bead necklaces, both in life and death.
This was a common type of jewelry during this era. Each metal’s beads were created similarly from hammered sheets of silver. The sheets were then bonded via soldering. As a result, the smaller beads were often made of gold, while the larger ones were silver.
Beads the size of cylinders were rolled from tiny rectangles of hammered sheets to space out the more significant, rounder beads. This is a prime example of Egyptian silver for jewelry making. The silver and linen cords in this example both endured being buried for four thousand years. Wah also used silver in the construction of his amazing scarabs.
The History of Taxco Silver
Since pure silver is so pliable, jewelry created of it would quickly show scratches and dents. Therefore, silver for jewelry making is often alloyed with other metals to increase its strength and durability. Silver is usually treated with copper to make it more challenging, although this also contributes to silver’s tendency to tarnish. This tarnish can develop into a lovely, aged patina with reasonable care and time.
Commonly, jewelry will contain at least 92.5% silver, the minimum proportion needed for silver to be considered “sterling silver.” You’ll often see this proportion expressed as.925 or 925, where we got the inspiration for our company name. Also available are a wide variety of items stamped “.950” or “950” to indicate that they are produced from 95% silver.
William Spratling, known as the “father” of the Taxco silver Renaissance, insisted that all items sold from his shop bear his artist mark and information about the shop’s location and the silver for jewelry making’s quality. According to his book, “Worthwhile silver necessitates that it be recognized with the name and reputation of the craftsman.” Vintage items can be verified for authenticity by looking for a particular combination of hallmark marks.
The hallmarks of today usually consist of the maker’s initials and the workshop’s location. It takes some time to become proficient in reading and navigating hallmarks. All certification marks are included in the item descriptions we publish.
Please get in touch with us if you have any inquiries concerning the authenticity, provenance, or artistry of a given work. Some craftspeople eventually started utilizing purity as their trademark to appeal to a broader international clientele.
Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, founded the current city of Taxco in the 1520s so that he could make use of the area’s abundant silver deposits. Silver mined in Taxco, Mexico, gained notoriety throughout Europe, and supplanted Mexico as Spain’s primary supplier of precious metals in the Americas by the century’s end. However, as Europeans discovered more accessible locations to mine silver, mining activities in Taxco declined by the early 1700s. Jose de la Borda, the son of a French army commander and a Spaniard, didn’t join his brother in Taxco to mine for silver, gold, and iron until 1716.
Silver mining made José the wealthiest man in Mexico until he struck gold (or silver) at Taxco. The city’s economics, culture, and architecture were all greatly influenced by his fortune. Although the Aztecs were skilled silversmiths, the raw silver was what the Spanish at Taxco wanted. How, then, did the city of modern Taxco become synonymous with fine jewelry?
In the 1920s, an American named William Spratling met and began working with Diego Rivera, which led him to go to Mexico. Spratling was a professor of architecture and an artist who drew inspiration for his silver jewelry from pre-Columbian and Aztec art. As a result, Spratling’s jewelry business flourished, and he eventually began instructing up-and-coming silversmiths in his hometown. Furthermore, he established a training system for prospective jewelers in the area.
Contemporary Mexican jewelry frequently has designs inspired by scenes from nature. This style is popular among contemporary jewelry fans yet has its roots in pre-Columbian adornment.
Pre-Columbian cultures highly esteemed the natural world, and this reverence was often reflected in the ornamentation worn by its citizens. Examples of such symbols in ancient jewelry include jaguars, flowers, fish, trees, and a profusion of others. They believed that adorning themselves with such symbols would bestow upon them their meanings, whether it be strength, intelligence, or autonomy. Spanish explorers saw the silver in Mexico and immediately saw the commercial potential in the country’s ornate and imaginative jewelry.
Then, they used silver and gemstones that were already fashionable in Europe to create new hybrid styles. For example, earrings with elaborate designs were commonplace on the European mainland before the Spanish arrived. This influence spread to Mexico, where it remains a staple of the country’s renowned jewelry industry.
Filigree and repousse were two new techniques that the Spanish introduced to Mexico. They also developed techniques for encrusting jewelry with tiny jewels, introducing fresh styles to the market. When Spratling relocated to Taxco in 1929, it quickly rose to prominence as Mexico’s premier center for designing and manufacturing fine jewelry.
Taxco was once famous for its silver mines before Spratling uprooted there. Taxco, Mexico, was initially colonized by pre-Columbian people who sought silver for use in jewelry and religious sacrifices.
Even though silver was historically crucial in Taxco, the silver industry was very little in the 1920s and 1930s. Once Spratling began making jewelry, he gained fame and began collaborating with other local craftspeople; in 1933, he founded his first workshop on Calle Las Delicias.
His training as an apprentice began there. As a result, more and more local artists were taught to create one-of-a-kind, exquisite pieces of Mexican jewelry, which boosted the city’s jewelry industry. The practice is alive and well today, with attractive new jewelry made daily!