5 Tips for Buying Handcrafted Silver Jewellery Online

Whether you're looking for pieces to add to your collection or are shopping for gifts, there are excellent online sources for handmade silver earrings, pendants, rings, barrettes, and necklaces.

Genuine handcrafted silver jewellery is as beautiful as it is unique. Whether you're looking for pieces to add to your collection or are shopping for gifts, there are excellent online sources for handmade earrings, pendants, rings, barrettes, and necklaces. For a wonderful buying experience, follow these five tips. If you do, you will obtain great silver jewellery items that you will treasure for the rest of your life - not to mention great family heirlooms.

1 - Find a reputable source

This may go without saying, but don't confuse commercially manufactured jewellery with handcrafted silver jewellery. The latter is made by artisans that take great pride in their work. It's helpful to look for a company that has been in business for decades, and that has been selling online for at least five years. They are far more likely to be producing the real thing – and that has a major impact on its value.

2 - Take advantage of customisation

When jewellery is handmade, it can be customised in any number of ways, from the lengths of chains to the types of gemstones used in pendants and rings. You don't need to settle for "almost good enough." Instead, you can get the piece you've always dreamed of, in exactly the right size. For this reason, you should always be prepared to look a little further and search a bit more in order to get the best pieces.

3 - Measure carefully

Because customised pieces generally aren't returnable, it's important to make sure that the handcrafted silver jewellery you order will fit. It only takes a few minutes to get a good measurement, and doing so will ensure that the necklace or ring you order will be exactly what you want.

For rings, ask a friend to take a piece of string, put it around the knuckle or largest part of your finger, and mark the string. To determine the size, hold the string against a tape measure and compare your measurement to the website's sizing chart. If you're in between sizes, it's best to go with the larger size. You can also use string to measure for bracelet, necklace, or anklet lengths.

By taking the time and effort to get your measurements right, you can save yourself a lot of problems in the longer run.

4 - Do your gemstone research

Silver goes very well with a wide range of gemstones, but it is a good idea to make sure you know about each of the stones and what offer the best options.

The best online jewellery sites have a wealth of information on gemstones. So before you order, you will have ample opportunities to read up on the gemstones you are considering.

There are many good reasons for this that stretch way beyond aesthetics. It's important to know, for example, that aquamarine can be cleaned with dishwashing detergent, but that ultrasonic and steam cleaning may damage the stone. Similarly, you may know that pearls are delicate and can easily absorb liquids, but you might not know that turquoise is also porous and can easily become stained.

If you're going to order jewellery with gemstones, it's also crucial to know whether the stones are natural or if their colours have been enhanced. Reputable artisans will freely share this information.

Don't be alarmed, however, if the stones have been heated or irradiated to intensify or change their colours. Naturally coloured rubies, sapphires, and topaz, for example, are extraordinarily rare; it is an accepted practice within the jewellery industry to enhance gemstone colours.

5. Invest in the real thing.

Silver jewellery is gorgeous, but only if it's real silver. Make sure that the online source you select uses either sterling silver (.925 or 92.5 percent silver) or fine silver (99.9 percent pure silver). When you invest in handcrafted silver jewellery, you're not only buying a piece you will treasure, but one that is likely to become an heirloom for future generations.

Why great silver matters

The quality of silver is an essential element if you are going to buy the metal. As a precious metal it is ranked second only to gold - and not just on the podium at the Olympic Games. In ancient Egypt it was actually more precious than gold.

Indeed, the very name Sterling - matching the name of the UK currency - is a reminder that this metal has itself been a key component in measuring monetary value. At one time £1 was the value of one pound in weight of silver.

Like gold, it is very malleable, which makes it useful for coinage, but it also has other qualities, being the best at conducting both heat and electricity. Small wonder it is seen as such a precious commodity.

Where silver comes from

Although it is often mined in a naturally occurring for – primarily in Mexico and other countries in the Americas, but also in large quantities in Russia and Australia - most silver today is created as a by-product of the refining of gold, copper and lead.

Silver is particularly valuable for jewellery because, like gold, it does not tarnish or rust on contact with moisture. Indeed, the only thing that can corrode it is sulphur - which is not the sort of thing you would be putting on your hands.

While silver coins have been around since 700 BC, the metal was first mined around 5,000 years ago.

All this goes to show that silver is a metal to be reckoned with. So if you are investing in it, make sure you are not short-changed and do indeed get the best available.

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