This post will explain why I’ve been using “silver filled” metals since May of 2012.
As people know the price of sterling silver fluctuates, it has steadily increased, albeit slowly since January of 2004. I began working with silver in 2008…at this time the cost per ounce began a more aggressive increase until the prices peaked in September of 2011. As of the writing of this post silver is still approximately 125% higher per ounce than it was when I made my first purchase in 2008. This of course is why the public has seen increases in the cost of handmade silver pieces from Artisans. There will always be those people who will buy silver jewelry regardless of the cost…but… for many people the cost of silver jewelry, while considerably improved is still too expensive. Retail stores offer silver plated items for much less which makes it understandable why people gravitate to something more affordable.
With the “more affordable” idea in mind I decided this year to give a new product a try…”silver filled” sheet and wire. In March of 2011 I heard about “silver filled” products from a friend, and briefly mentioned the product on my blog in the spring of 2011. I purchased wire then stored it away, partly because it was new and I felt I had to wait bit to see how
it held up.
In November of 2011 I purchased “silver filled sheet and wire”… which I also stored away until this spring when I began preparing for the opening of the North Bay Farmers Market. As this was a new product at the time, they only offered “silver filled” sheet, silver clad on one side…the other side has the brass (90% copper, 10%zinc) exposed, which wasn’t a concern my customers. Even though I was aware of this product for over a year I wanted to make sure it was something that would stand the test of time before I introduced my customers to it this spring.
My “silver filled” jewelry has been well received… selling itself…the reason being, it is relatively shiny, can be lightly hammered, stamped, sanded, soldered and tumbled like sterling silver, which allows me to offer earrings and pendants with the same look as the sterling silver pieces. It isn’t as sparkling as sterling but it definitely is worth the cost. I recently purchased the double clad silver filled sheet, which they didn’t have the first time I ordered…(sterling silver on both sides)I must say I’m considering continuing to work with the one side sterling silver sheet, it allows people to tell the difference at a glance.
I explain “silver filled” in the following way to my customers …a layer of brass to which a layer of sterling silver has been permanently bonded…it will not wear off! Like sterling silver it will tarnish so keep your pieces in a baggie with an anti tarnish tab, or clean gently with a cleaning cloth. As with silver avoid exposing your pieces to hairspray or other harsh chemicals. This product gives the look of sterling silver without the cost!
Below is an explanation from Rio Grande which gives the technical description.
I will always work with sterling, argentium and fine silver as they are my favorite mediums… there are customers who prefer their jewelry made from sterling silver…but… the “silver filled” product fills a niche in the market…one I’m happy to be able to accommodate!
I will be doing a post soon to explain the difference between sterling silver, Argentium silver and fine silver as many of my customers ask me that question on a regular basis.
Posted on Baytoday July 9th, 2012