All of the pieces in my jewelry collection are offered in silver, but not gold, and this is by choice. I have always preferred the neutral tone and slightly edgier appeal of silver and have been wearing it for decades. One reason is…
Sterling silver will not affect your earlobes like a plated metal earring post does. That’s because of the nickel material needed to make the plating surface adhere to the base metal in the manufacturing of costume jewelry. Many people are sensitive to this element, especially worn against the skin. For years I endured uncomfortable ear, neck, and wrist irritation from wearing plated fashion jewelry before I learned about my own sensitivity to nickel.
Back when I first began my career as an accessories designer I was living in New York City. It was the “Fat Eighties” back then and bigger was better. We all wore large earrings, oversized faux pearls, multiple layers of necklaces, and stacks of bracelets. That was just the style then. It was fun – that over the top glam look, but it ruined my ears. It got so bad I eventually let my piercings close up and started wearing only clip-ons, often modifying purchased ones myself. Like many people, I just wanted to be more…
This eventually led me to make designing jewelry that feels good to wear a focus of my professional career in the jewelry business. When it came time to do my own line, sterling silver was a natural choice, avoiding plated metal altogether. All my components are sterling silver, including chains, clasps and post ear backs. I don’t want anyone else to suffer like I once did.
If you want to know more about Nickel sensitivity, here’s an article from the Mayo Clinic in which they recommend wearing sterling silver: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nickel-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20351529
Some highlights from the article:
“The following tips may help you avoid nickel exposure:
Wear hypoallergenic jewelry
Avoid jewelry that contains nickel. Purchase jewelry that’s made of materials that aren’t likely to cause allergic reactions. Look for jewelry made from such metals as nickel-free stainless steel, surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, 18-karat yellow gold, or nickel-free yellow gold and sterling silver.
Surgical-grade stainless steel may contain some nickel, but it’s generally considered hypoallergenic for most people. Be sure that your earring backings also are made of hypoallergenic materials.”
A little SCIENCE
Silver, denoted as “Ag” on the scientific table of elements, is part of the family of noble metals, which includes gold, platinum, ruthenium, et cetera. When you wear silver, you are adorning yourself with a high quality, durable metal material – and no less valuable than gold, in my humble opinion. I never understood the justification of paying so much more for an item in white gold that looks almost identical in sterling silver.
Nickel, showing as “Ni” on the chart, is not a noble metal and cannot be tolerated by the human body. However, you can always trust that the purity of silver will not irritate your skin, much the same as gold.
Another reason I prefer silver is cost. Gold is quite expensive these days, so it’s often made thin and light to reduce the retail price, resulting in a rather skimpy looking jewelry with as little metal showing as possible. I don’t like skimpy. I like heavy. The moderate cost of silver compared to gold allows me to be more generous with the metal content and not have to compromise. To compare, a pair of simple hoop earrings with a silver-colored surface can be made three ways at three very different price points. A) in steel or brass with nickel plating for about $15, B) in sterling silver for about $150, or in white gold for about $720. The best choice is the sterling, of course. It won’t cause skin irritation and won’t cost nearly as much as gold, yet it can be polished to a brilliant shine and will last for years.
Metal-focused, yet FEMININE
I design for sterling silver enthusiasts, but I also believe this type of metal-focused jewelry can be feminine and easy to wear, so that’s what my collection consists of. I prefer jewelry with beautifully sculpted metal elements to a piece that’s simply loaded with stones. When I do include gemstones in my collection, they are usually just accents – not the focus of the piece. By contrast, there are plenty of other brands out there whose collections are stone-focused – in which the jewelry silhouettes are dictated by stone shape. This is not really designing to me, and something I generally avoid because it doesn’t really require much creative thinking. Who needs more of this? I’d rather offer my customers something more unique.
Why is gold so much more expensive than silver? It wasn’t always this way. At one point, around the 1500’s, when vast amounts of silver were being discovered (and stolen) in the New Western World, sterling became the preferred metal for royalty and all those who could afford any luxury. It was more valued than gold. The only reason things changed again had to do with politics and power – a completely man-made reason.
Better for TRAVEL
People who travel a lot, like me, may be hesitant to bring along their favorite high-end gemstone jewelry for fear of losing it, or having it stolen from their hotel room. I understand feeling cautious about this. Gold and diamond jewelry pieces are expensive to replace. Who needs that stress when you are vacationing and trying to relax?
My solution is to have a full wardrobe of distinctively-shaped sterling silver jewelry that works easily with multiple outfits and allows you to be your stylish self in any port. My personal travel kit always includes the following: short silver earrings for daytime excursions and glamorous longer earrings for evening, plus a couple of interestingly-motifed pendants, and a long slinky strand or two to surround them, or double-wrap to fill an open neckline. That’s all you need to elevate a minimum number of travel outfits to chic-ness. A black tee shirt and skinny jeans becomes way more interesting when adorned with high-contrast gleaming sterling silver accessories. Plus, these flexible six-or-so pieces will easily fit into a very small pouch, so you are adding very little weight and mass to your luggage. Carrying less has become a priority for me when traveling and soaking up world cultures. I now bring only a carry-on backpack, with a minimal number of garments, even when visiting Europe for a ten-day trip. I just change my look each day by mixing up the sterling silver accessories I wear. Easy!
Pictured is a 7-piece travel set I would recommend. It works year-round and the neutral metal tone goes with any color outfit in your suitcase.
If you are a sterling silver enthusiast who prefers metal-focused jewelry that’s not so generic, you’ll find plenty in the Carol Koch Sterling collection that meets your needs. It’s affordable, well-engineered, comfortable, not overly dressy, and will last for years. It’s gloriously and confidently SILVER, not gold, by choice. Enjoy.