Les Enluminures Jewelry Focus: Silver

Is Silver “Poor Man’s Gold”? No.

In Antiquity, silver was more highly prized than gold.  The first known coins were minted in silver in Ancient Greece, and over the centuries silver instead of gold formed the basis for currency. In mythology the moon goddess with her silver flowing hair drove a silver chariot through the skies, and members of high society ate and drank from lavishly decorated vessels made of solid silver.  Devotional objects, reliquaries, and jewels from medieval Europe reflect the divine attribute of silver, which only the wealthiest could afford. 

All this changes with the discovery of the New World.  Silver mines in the so-called Rich Mountain in today’s Bolivia yielded, from 1545, an abundance of silver and ultimately gave great power and wealth to the Kings of Spain.  However, the status of silver henceforth declined as it became more plentiful – the “poor man’s gold.”

Today, silver jewelry enjoys a Renaissance.  Valued for its lustrous qualities and high polish, silver is much favored by the modern goldsmith also because of its high malleability.  So even if you were not “born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” every cloud can still have a “silver lining” when sporting age-old examples of prized silver jewelry.