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The Purity of Silver

by Laura Fronty

Silver symbolizes the moon, its purity, and its white glints.  Its name is believed to derive from the Sanskrit word ar-jun that means both “white” and “shining”.  In antiquity, silver was often deemed more valuable than gold.  In Egypt, for example, it was considered extremely precious.  But unlike gold, which suffers almost no ill effects from age over the centuries, silver is quite fragile and prone to oxidation, causing it to deteriorate.  Once the Spanish conquistadors began to exploit the silver mines of the New World, entire ships were needed to carry the metal to Europe and Asia.  Today, as then, the majority of the world’s silver comes from Latin America.

A Soft Metal

Silver is too malleable to be used in its pure state.  After gold, it is the softest and the most ductile of metals and, like gold, it can be stretched into wire thread.  It is alloyed with other metals; most commonly copper, in order to harden it.  However, unlike gold, which takes on different hues when alloyed with other metals, solid silver remains white with gray tints.

In antiquity, there was a widely used alloy made from a base of gold and silver.  This metal has been forgotten in our time, but its beautiful color-simultaneously pale and glimmering-deserves to be rediscovered by designers.

Silver and Customs

In certain civilizations, silver is preferred to gold.  In Africa and Asia, silver is worn daily while gold-which is rarer and more costly-is reserved for urban dwellers or for more ceremonial settings.  In these countries, for centuries, metalsmiths have produced magnificent jewelry from silver through the art of chiseling, casting, enamel, or niello.  The jewelry was often decorated with symbolic stones-such as coral, cornelian, turquoise, and amber-which serve to protect and bring good luck.

In India, women have always prized silver, and their jewelry reflects this passion.  Their silver is cast, then recast, eternally transformed so that over thousands of years women from the middle and lower castes have decorated their arms, wrists, necks, ankles, hair, and clothes with this silver, thus displaying their dowry directly on their bodies.

Beliefs and Superstitions

In antiquity, newborns were given silver jewelry.  The metal was thought to keep away evil spirits and protect the baby while it slept.

In the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Asia, silver is still believed to have protective power; and the Tuaregs of North Africa, for example, don’t wear gold because they believe it arouses the attention of the evil eye.

In India, newborns are bedecked in silver anklets decorated with tiny bells.  Their cheerful tinkling allows the mother to keep track of her child’s moments once the baby learns to crawl.

Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, similar virtues were attributed to silver in Europe.  In Germany, for example, pieces of silver were frequently sewn onto the jackets of young soldiers because they were believed to ward off bullets.

The preference for silver over gold sometimes has its source in religious beliefs.  In early Islam, true believers were not allowed to wear either gold or silk during their earthly life lest they be denied these pleasures in paradise.  Over time, religious law has relaxed its strictures.  In principle, the prohibition still holds for men, but women, at least, are allowed to dress themselves in jewelry made of gold or vermeil.

Distinguishing between the real and the fake

Look out for imitations; they do not have the same market value as pure silver.

If you have any doubts about the jewelry, you must apply the touchstone test followed by the revealing liquids (chemical acids).  Rub on the metal on a black stone such as slate, then place a drop of acid on the spot that the silver has marked.  If the mark disappears, it is not silver.

Silver marks and standards

Since the end of the 19th century, silver in France has been designated by a silver mark of the head of Minerva, wearing a helmet and looking to the right.  If the piece is secondhand, or acquired abroad, it is stamped with a weevil (beetle) or a swan.

Like gold, silver has several degrees of fineness (the proportion of precious metal found in an alloy).  The degree reflects the quantity of copper used.  In France, the finest silver is made with 925 parts silver and 75 parts copper, as reflected by the 925/1000 mark engraved on the metal.  In English speaking countries, the metal often bears the engraving “pure sterling.”

It looks like silver!

Up until the end of the 18th century, it was common practice to weld a thin leaf of silver to a sheet of copper to obtain silver-plated metal.

Maillot and Chorier were the first in France to perfect an alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel that imitated perfectly the appearance of white metal.  Named “Maillechort” after its inventors, the metal is plunged into a bath of silver salts, which settle on the surface by means of electrolysis.

In North Africa, alloys of copper and zinc were often used to imitate silver.  It can be difficult at times to distinguish zamak from solid silver.

In Southeast Asia, nickel has long been used as an alloy; the result is often known as “alpaca silver.”  In Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, mountain tribes continue to make large quantities of jewelry from this alloy or from hollow silver, which is light and fragile.

Silver around the world

In Spain, solid silver is frequently cheaper than in France.

Scandinavian jewelry, often sober and refined, is much esteemed for the high quality of its design.  Jewelers there have not hesitated to choose silver for their beautiful creations, occasionally enhanced by a piece of Baltic amber or a moonstone.  Georg Jensen, the well-known Danish jeweler, has made superb pieces in the style of art nouveau, and his company remains among the most important in the world of contemporary silver design.

Jewelry made by the Navajos is equally famous.  Crafted from solid silver, the pieces are often decorated with turquoise.  Sadly, their success has had a detrimental effect on their art:  jewelry made today is only of a mediocre quality when compared with those much admired pieces made as recently as the 1960s and 1970s, which are now collectors’ items.

How to buy antique pieces

Silver is a soft metal that dents, scratches, and bends easily.  It is important to make sure that such damage is not too evident.  Rings are especially fragile.  A silver band can become as thin as a sheet of paper.

Hollow silver is most likely to show scars from its earlier life.  Sometimes these pieces cannot be repaired.  It is impossible to repair dents on a bangle or drop earrings, no matter how thick the silver leaf.

Care and maintenance

Silver jewelry that is exposed to the air and sunlight oxidizes and tarnishes quickly.  It is important to put silver away and to separate it from any other type of metal that can tarnish or scratch it.

Protect fragile pieces, particularly those made with hollow silver, by wrapping them individually in a soft cloth-either felt of silk is best for the most delicate pieces.

The best way to maintain the luster of your silver is to wear it as often as possible, but certain types of skin, because they are more acidic, can cause silver to oxidize.

Cleaning products made for silver tableware should not be used on silver jewelry unless the piece is extremely dirty.  Never use one of these products on silver decorated with gemstones.

The best silver cleaner can be found at your local pharmacy and in some supermarkets:  baking soda.  The simplest method is to pour some of the soda power into your damp hands and then gently rub the jewelry until its original color and shine return.  To reach into the contours of embossed or carved silver, use a damp toothbrush whose bristles have been softened by previous use.  You can also add a drop of liquid detergent to the baking soda.  Rinse the jewelry in water and dry with a piece of fine cloth.

Toothpaste is another good choice for cleaning silver, but it is not suited for the care of antique jewelry, particularly if it is engraved or carved.  The paste tends to slip into the cracks and dries quickly.  If necessary, you can remove the white marks with pure alcohol.

Lemon juice shines silver and wipes away blemishes.  You can simply rub the jewelry against the slice of lemon, or for rings and other carved silver items, use a soft-bristled brush dipped in lemon juice to rub the jewelry.

Old fashioned recipes

To restore the shine to severely oxidized silver, roll it in a sheet of aluminum foil and plunge into a pot of boiling salted water.  The salt is optional, but it helps to activate the process.  Leave the package in the pot for about ten minutes, then remove from the pot and open up the foil.  The sheet of foil should have absorbed all of the oxidation and should now be black.  Rinse the newly shined piece of jewelry and you are done.  This method should not be used with jewelry decorated with pearls or other precious gemstones.

Log in using Facebook account

You now have the option to log in using your Facebook account.  Log into your Facebook account first if you haven't already.  After that click on the "Log in using Facebook account" button on the's registration page.  If you're new here, you need to create an account with us.  (This is done once).  This account would then be associated with your Facebook account.  After registration, whenever you need to log into, all you need to do is click "Log in using Facebook account" and you'll be automatically logged into  Hope you'll enjoy it and please report any problems.  Next up:  log in using your Twitter account!


Our handbags

Are you tired of paying full price for designer handbags?  No need to worry, here at Snap 'n Zip we have great bargains on your favorite purses from Coach, Michael Kors and Kate Spade.  All of our inventory is authentic, so unlike other online shops we will give you real designer bags and will not provide you with a cheap imitation of your favorite styles.

The selection in our inventory is always growing as we strive to make you look gorgeous when you are out on the town.  We work with major retailers and premium factory outlets to get current merchandise that includes the top-selling purses that are on your shopping list.  Our inventory comes from high end brick and mortar stores and top factory outlets.  We want to serve as your personal shopper helping you get decked out with the hottest styles.

Some of our current inventory includes top styles by Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors.  Most of our current purses are in pastels and bright colors allowing you to coordinate with your summer wardrobe.  As the fall season approaches we will continue to add new inventory to help you coordinate with the changing colors in your attire.

You can check our "New Arrivals" area to see any new handbags added to our inventory.  You can also sort our inventory by selecting the type of purse you are looking for including clutches, crossbody or messenger bags, hobo style purses, satchels, shoulder bags, or totes.  Our site allows you to start your search by filtering by the price of a handbag and then adding filters to help you find the purse that meets your needs.  These filters allow you to search by the size of the a handbag you want to purchase and even by the type of material used for the purse such as leather or satin.  Other filters that can be added let you look for bags with certain patterns such as animal print, floral, graphic, or plaid.

Since our selection is constantly changing make sure to check our "Sale" section (coming in the next week) to see closeout merchandise.  As we work to bring an even bigger variety for our customers we often need to clear out old inventory to make room for new styles, so we will offer even bigger discounts on select styles in our "Sale" area.

Some of our items are from a supplier's over-production of a particular style while others might be from a past season.  Because we are able to purchase the handbags at a great discount, we are able to give you the chance to show off a designer bag at a heavy discount.  By saving money on one of our bags you are able to have more of your fashion budget to spend on other items such as designer shoes or couture pieces of jewelry.

Another great perk with shopping at Snap 'n Zip is that we offer a 30 day no hassle return policy.  You can shop with confidence knowing that if you are not happy with a purchase you can send it back to us for a full refund.  After 30 days you can receive a store credit on any returns towards future purchases.  Free standard shipping is also available, so you are able to get your handbag within just a few days at no additional cost to you above the purchase price.  Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost.

Here at Snap 'n Zip it is our mission to provide you with access to the latest handbags from top designers at great prices.  We want to ensure that looking fashionable does not break your budget.  After all, every woman should be able to enjoy accessorize her wardrobe with handbags from designers like Coach and Kate Spade. No outfit is complete without adding the perfect purse.


What's hot - Cubic Zirconia (CZ)

Cubic zirconia often gets a bad rap. However, here at Snap 'n Zip we recommend it for many people over diamonds and other precious stones. Cubic zirconia has all of the attractive qualities of rare stones without the horribly inflated price tag. Most importantly, we believe that purchasing cubic zirconia alternatives over diamonds and precious stones is the ethical, correct thing to do. Diamond and precious stone mining leads to a multitude of environmental and political problems. In fact, if most shoppers knew the human cost and suffering behind each diamond that they purchase, they would switch to cubic zirconia in a heartbeat.

One of the biggest misconceptions about cubic zirconia jewelry is that it looks cheap or inauthentic. However, we offer J Goodin and Emitations CZ jewelry made only with clear, brilliant stones in an expert setting.  They primarily use gold or rhodium plating and the stones are precisely cut to ensure that they will not look like anything but the best. Snap 'n Zip products shimmer and sparkle and will dazzle everyone even better than real diamonds or precious stones.

Among our products you can find fine fashion jewelry for any occasion. From whimsical, youthful designs to more elegant pieces suitable for any occasion, our fine fashion CZ jewelry is guaranteed to make you happy and to leave you satisfied. With a wide variety of fashion jewelry designs available on, we guarantee that you will find what you want without having to go bankrupt. Our great customer service and affordable prices will also make your shopping experience as pleasant as possible. Some of our most popular items include:

  • The fashion princess ring. This CZ ring shines and dazzles with a beautiful center stone in a princess cut. This stone is surrounded by beautiful round stones that highlight it and catch the light in tantalizing ways. The fashion princess ring's silver hue is designed to make everyone who sees it melt.
  • The peridot paradise ring. This ring uses white gold rhodium bond to create a beautiful silver hue that is long lasting and beautiful to admire. With an advanced electroplating process that coats this ring with heavy rhodium (similar to platinum), the peridot paradise ring features a beautiful eight carat peridot on a simple, but eyecatching design. This ring shouts out "Look at me!, I am beautiful!"
  • The blue lagoon ring. True to its name, the blue lagoon ring has a beautiful turquoise hue that has an unprecedented depth. This CZ stone is appropriate for both a fun a occasion or a more elegant event. It features an aquamarine solitaire in a princess cut that is eyecatching and playful at the same time.
  • The silver cubic zirconia star of David pendant. What better way to proclaim your faith than with this beautiful design? The silver CZ star of David pendant can be used for any gathering and stands on its own as an important fashion accessory. This pendant also uses white gold rhodium electroplating to create a piece of fine jewelry that is coated with heavy layers of beautiful gold. This piece is stately while at the same time serving as a personal statement of your beliefs.

With over a few hundred unique and original J Goodin and Emitations designs at the Snap 'n Zip store, the above four items and many more are available for instant online purchase at our website. We guarantee that you will love your new fashion accessories. To back that up, we offer a thirty day, no hassle return policy.


More products are coming soon!

We're in the process of switching to a new web hosting solution so all product import activities are temporarily stopped. After a successful re-deployment of the website, we're planning to add a lot more gemstone jewelry from J Goodin (about a few hundred new designs), and a fresh water cultured pearl jewelry line. Thanks for your patience.


Page Rank downgraded to 0, how sad

We're so new. launched just 2 months ago. We had a Google PR of 1 for the first month, thanks to all the hard work on SEO put in. It is June 1st 2012 and PR is at 0. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we changed web hosting providers so frequently (2 times now): re-deployments of the site generated new data, at the same time caused stale links on shopping engines or web directories that are linking to us. I'm anticipating yet another hosting provider switch after so much downtime experienced so far, and all those support calls ....grrrrrr. Hope to find a stable home before other important parts of the business can be taken care of.