AZGem Gems
October, 2005

The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the website who subscribe.


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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Jewelry Precious Metal - Silver


This month we present the third installment in a short series entitled Jewelry Precious Metal.

The primary jewelry precious metals are platinum, gold, and silver. This month we'll talk about silver.

Like platinum, silver is a white metal. But that's where the similarities end.

Silver has been used in jewelry for more than 5000 years that we know about... and probably even longer.

Silver is by far the most affordable of the precious jewelry metals. It is difficult to compare silver, gold, and platinum jewelry prices, due to the artistic cost component, but commodity price comparisons are readily available.

Silver currently sells for around $7.50 per ounce, while gold is selling at more than $450.00 per ounce, and platinum is going for more than $900.00 per ounce.

Because silver is more affordable, many artisans choose to work in silver. New style trends often emerge in silver jewelry before they appear in gold or platinum.

Silver buffs to a shiny finish, where platinum has a frosty appearance.

Pure platinum has a melting point of 3224 degrees Fahrenheit, while fine silver melts at only 1761 degrees.

Silver is mined in many countries around the world. In the U.S. most silver mining occurs in the western states. The leaders are Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Arizona.

One of my favorite places to visit for scenery and a little fishing is Creede, Colorado. Creede is located off the tourist track and in the shadow of the Continental Divide, near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. If you're ever there, be sure to visit the bank.

There was a huge silver strike here in 1889 that resulted in the development of a mine and the town.

Fine silver is 99.999% pure, but is too soft for use in most jewelry.

Sterling silver is the preferred silver for jewelry. Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper.

Coin silver is another alloy used in jewelry. Coin silver is 90% fine silver and 10% copper.

Indian jewelry from Arizona and surrounding states was traditionally made of coin silver. In fact, it was made from actual silver coins, both U.S. and Mexican.

In the early days Indian artisans used trains to help them form the silver. Coins were placed on railroad tracks so that a train would run over them and make them thinner and wider. A major rail line still runs along the southern edge of the Navajo Reservation, east of Flagstaff, Arizona.

These old Indian jewelry pieces showing a distorted coin image on the back, and are highly prized by collectors.

A Google search for the key word phrase indian jewelry returns a number of interesting resources. Don't overlook the ads down the right side of the page. Those are resources too.





Industry News...


The New York Times Is Critical of Gold Mining

The environmental and social impact of gold was the focus of an investigative story by The New York Times  last week.

The investigation included tours of gold mines in the Western U.S., Latin America, and Africa, and provided a look inside the industry, which it says has "a troubled environmental legacy and an uncertain future." It also looked at the increased demand for gold, despite its current high price.

The Times report notes that for the ounce of gold it takes to make a ring, "miners dig up and haul away 30 tons of rock and sprinkle it with diluted cyanide, which separates the gold from the rock. Before they are through, miners at some of the largest mines move a half million tons of earth a day, pile it in mounds that can rival the Great Pyramids, and drizzle the ore with the poisonous solution for years."

It also examined the use of cyanide, used to dissolve gold out of the rock, and its long-term environmental impact, including cases where the mishandling of the poisonous material led to widespread contamination of land and water.

"The biggest challenge we face is the absence of a set of clearly defined, broadly accepted standards for environmentally and socially responsible mining," Kowalski, a trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in the story.

While the story did get the mining industry's perspective, it did not do a good enough job in this regard, says George Milling-Stanley, a spokesman for the World Gold Council, although he said that he has yet to review the article as carefully as he would like.

"One thing I would say is that all the world's big international mining companies all have well documented economic and social policies and they all devote significant resources to sustainable developments," 

The story also noted that other metal mining faces some of the same issues as gold mining. CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, is currently urging that the top players in the world silver industry meet to discuss mining issues.

Gianni Cacchione, president of the CIBJO Sterling Silver Commission, called for a summit meeting of all the global players in the mining and manufacture of silver jewelry to discuss the issues that could damage consumer confidence in the purchase of silver jewelry.

The Silver Institute in Washington, D.C., and the top silver industry players in the world—including miners, bankers, bullion dealers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, in a worldwide promotion campaign in favor of silverware, need to be involved in the effort, he said.

"To relaunch and carry forward the social image of sterling silver jewelry and especially sterling silver tableware and giftware, it is absolutely essential to invest in a public promotional effort as the only way to increase the quantity of sterling items produced," he said.



Jewelry Dealers

Two recent surveys indicate that higher gasoline prices will hold down growth in holiday sales.

This presents an opportunity for independent jewelry dealers to serve their existing customers and recruit new customers this season.

Most home-based jewelry dealers rely heavily on recommendations from existing customers for new customers and sales.

Your customer base and sales can be increased significantly by a little innovative marketing. For instance, organize a couple of guys-only jewelry parties at friends houses.

Have the host invite his friends. They will become your customers because you offer good deals (low overhead means low prices on quality jewelry).

Your cost for the snacks and drinks should be paid for with a single sale. Offer the host an incentive... $$ off a piece of jewelry for him (sell it to him at your cost).

All the other sales will fatten your bank account.



Jewelry Dealers Program

Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and co-workers?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.

Carolyn Doyle

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