Why should you always buy nickel and lead free silver jewellery
History of silver jewellery:
Jewellery has been a part of our world since time immemorial. Decorating our bodies with beautiful accessories has been a part of our identity and it has evolved significantly over the years. The earliest piece of jewellery was found in Monaco about 25,000 years ago and it was made from bones. From being made of bone, stones, and shells, jewellery they have transformed into diamonds, metals, cloth, and synthetic materials.
- Silver jewellery always took second spot after gold, but over the last few decades, this white metal has transformed into an in-demand and affordable metal for jewellery.
- Silver is derived from the Latin word ‘Argentum’ which means “shine and white,” which is exactly how silver looks with its lustrous and reflective body.
- Silver was first discovered after being separated from lead in the 4th millennium BC.
- The use of Sterling silver which is mostly used for making jewellery dates back to the reign of King Edward I of England in the 13th century when he decreed the construction of a statue made of pure silver. He demanded that the purity be 92.5% bearing the marker of the company that is famously known today as the Goldsmith’s Company.
- But even though silver jewellery was facing growth, its lack of official use rendered it unrecognized and without any prominent makers.
- During the 1800’s most of the silver in the British Empire went into making tableware and cutlery, but, the Victorian Era saw a rise in exquisite handcrafted silver jewellery worn by the aristocrats.
- Silver became an ideal base for setting gemstones like amethyst, topaz, and rose-cut diamonds.
- After her husband, King Albert’s death, Queen Victoria went into mourning and wore all black until her death.
- This gave rise to a new style of jewellery called silver mourning jeweller. They were made from oxidized silver, set with dark gemstones. She even commissioned a crown to be crafted in silver, set with 1180 small, white diamonds.
- This snowballed into a series of smaller, subtler silver jewellery like bracelets, lockets, charms, and rings.
- Jewellery with engravings became popular as a gift to loved ones.
- Post world war, Gold took the centre stage as a display of status and wealth and silver jewellery became sidelined.
- Since the Hallmarking Act of 1973, there remains two major hallmarks of silver- Britannia silver (99.9%) and Sterling silver (92.5%).
- For jewellery making, Sterling silver is most used. Silver is a soft metal that cannot remain hardy unless made into an alloy.
- In recent times famous designers have made silver jewellery for their luxury brands making it a valuable and striking looking metal, pairing it with brilliant gemstones and intricate designs.
What to consider when buying silver jewellery:
- Before purchasing silver jewellery it is important to check its purity, which is contributed by the following factors according to the Bureau of Indian Standards:
- The BIS logo.
- Grade of purity. Sterling silver is the ideal form of silver with a purity level of 92.5% mixed with zinc or copper to sustain it. Anything below that is not pure silver.
- Identification of the Hallmark centre.
- Identification of the jewellery seller.
- Making the cost of silver jewellery is not much, starting from 3 rupees minimum. It is advisable to not take a particular jeweller’s making cost at face value and ask around about the current price of silver and making changes in the market.
- Always ask about the buy-back policy on the silver jewellery that you are going to buy. The store must have credible buy-back policies so that if you ever want to sell the piece of jewellery you will get back a good price for it. Like if your piece of jewellery had 92.5% purity then you will pay for that amount of silver and the value you get back will be for that as well.
- Be careful that what you are buying is pure sterling silver and not German silver. While sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver and another metal like copper or zinc, German silver is simply copper or zinc with silver polish.
- Be careful while buying silver antiques as there are chances that the product might be fake and check if the date matches that on the bill.
- Always get a receipt in case you need to verify your purchase in the future.
Why you should buy nickel and lead-free silver jewellery:
Several recent studies have proven that metals such as lead and nickel are components of the silver alloy used for making silver jewellery and cause severe health damages from wearing for a prolonged duration. As a matter of protecting our bodies, we must buy nickel and lead-free silver jewellery. Here are the damages they cause:
- Nickel is known to cause skin allergies with burn-like symptoms and is a recognized carcinogen or an agent of cancer. Therefore, it is advisable to buy nickel and lead-free silver jewellery.
- Doctors also advise us not to wear lead-based jewellery as they can cause terminal illnesses.
- The earlier stages of skin infection from wearing nickel are itchy and drying skin and over time that can get very dangerous,
- Lead can cause poisoning from skin exposure. Jewellery is small and something a child can easily put in their mouth, in which case it causes diarrhoea, tremors, and fatigue. And for this reason it is best to buy nickel and lead-free silver jewellery.
- Some serious afflictions associated with lead poisoning are memory loss, premature birth, and miscarriage, declining mental health, and mood disorders.
- The World Health Organisation has listed the various adverse effects of lead poisoning from high-level exposure on children as a breakdown of the central nervous system that can cause convulsions, coma that could lead to death. Children who survive it often end up with intellectual difficulties and behavioural disorders.
- Therefore you must buy nickel and lead-free silver jewellery even though they might be slightly more expensive. But for long-term benefits, only nickel and lead-free silver jewellery are safe.
How can you make sure you are buying nickel and lead-free silver jewellers?
After assessing the risks of nickel and lead in jewellery, it is useful to know how you can be assured about buying nickel and lead-free silver jewellery.
- Established brands: Brands that have a good reputation and credibility will manufacture good products. They may be slightly more expensive but it is worth buying nickel and lead-free silver jewellery than face health issues.
- Most first-world countries prohibit the use of nickel and lead in making silver jewellery. But it is always best to check the product label to ensure that the jewellery is nickel and lead-free. In that case, the words “lead-free”, “nickel free” or “hypoallergenic” will be mentioned on the label.
- If you don’t trust the store and the label you can get nickel and lead testing is done on the piece to jewellery to make sure it is nickel and lead-free.
Silver jewellery is grand and elegant and available in abundance. So, when purchasing them we must be careful and aware. Thinking of long-term benefits is more important than saving time and money now.