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A Buyer's Guide to Sterling Silver

  In Bali, I'd see the silver purchasers out at the open-air facilities where you could watch fine metal workers work silver beads into wire. The purchasers would ride up on their motorbikes and purchase materials by weight, taking back a cache of raw silver beads to the artists who would craft it into jewelry.

We don't have the same elemental connection to the materials we wear every day in the U.S. Silver items come to us as finished products. It's easy to forget that your earrings started out in the earth, that the ore was intentionally mined, and beautiful.


Where does silver come from?

There is such a thing as a silver mine, but these days most newly mined silver is a byproduct of gold, copper, lead, and zinc mining operations. The vast majority of silver is not used for jewelry at all, but used in other products, such as those found in the electronics, automotive, and medical industries. Mexico produces the most silver of any other country, more than 5,500 metric tonnes per year.

Though we know how to mine fine metals, it’s not necessarily sustainable. Extracting silver and other fine metals from the earth can put mining workers at risk due to exposure to mercury. There is a fair trade certification for gold and silver that supports small-scale mining operations, which are better for workers, the environment, and for local economies than industrial mining.  

The problem is that these metals are not yet widely available and they cost more than conventional materials.



Is it ok to keep wearing silver?

Yes. Because there is another sustainable option for silver: Recycled!  One big bonus of working with silver is that it is easily repurposed and never gets thrown away. People have been mining, salvaging, and reworking it for thousands of years.

I’m proud that The Blissful Co. uses recycled silver whenever possible. 
In addition, we use only safe, high-quality silver. We ensure that it’s mixed with copper–-never nickel, which causes an allergic reaction in some people.
It’s tempting to see a cheap price and hit “buy.” I do that myself sometimes. But it’s important–-especially with products that go in and on our bodies–-to take care of ourselves and the Earth by being conscious consumers, and recycled, high-quality silver is one way to do it.
-Authored by Pearl and Ink



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