Argentum 47 Taxco Sterling Silver 1.75" Gemstone Drop Earrings
All weights pertaining to gemstones, including diamonds, are minimum weights. Additionally, please note that many gemstones are treated to enhance their beauty. View Gemstone Enhancements and Special Care Requirements for important information.
Sterling silver, also called fine silver, is a beautifully lustrous cool-toned precious metal favored in fine jewelry among other products. The most reflective of all metals (excluding mercury), sterling silver looks stunning by itself and brings out the best hues in an array of colorful gemstones.
Sterling silver can be polished to a higher sheen than platinum. In fact, Ag, the chemical symbol for silver, comes from a word that means “white and shining.” The surface of silver can boast that shiny, polished appearance, or can be brushed, satin, matte, sandblasted, antiqued or oxidized (chemically blackened).
In order to be called sterling silver, a metal must be made up of a minimum of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy (meaning other metals), including but not limited to copper and nickel. The alloy is added to pure silver to make the metal more durable, tougher and harder. Sterling silver is designated a fineness of “925.” Pieces with sterling silver may be marked “sterling.”
Finishes on Sterling Silver
Finishing, or plating, is a common treatment with sterling silver. Popular types of plating are rhodium plating, gold plating and anti-tarnish plating. Plating is used to extend the life and sheen of the jewelry. After sizing or buffing a piece of jewelry with a machine, it must be re-plated to restore the finish.
Caring for Sterling Silver
Sterling silver becomes tarnished as the result of a natural chemical process that occurs when sterling silver is exposed to chemicals in the air, rubber, wool and latex. Humidity also plays a role in accelerating tarnishing. It's easy to keep your sterling silver sparkling, though, by taking a few steps to prevent tarnish and other wear and tear.
Mother-of-pearl is found on the shells of mollusks, such as mussels and oysters, and the shells of pseudopods, such as snails. When the young of these creatures come into the world, they create a shell "house" in order to preserve their existence. The walls of this housing are formed with layers of their secretions, ensuring a simultaneous growth of house and creature together.
Depending on the type of animal and the environment in which it lives, secretions create various shapes and colors found on the different types of mother-of-pearl. White mother-of-pearl comes from pearl-bearing oysters. It features high reflective properties and is one of the most commonly used types of this material. Iridescent mother-of-pearl is a type in which the colors of pink and green are predominant, while variegated mother-of-pearl is a multicolored type. Stone mother-of-pearl is white with a low reflective power, while mat mother-of-pearl is dull grey and also has a low reflective power.
The shiny quality of mother-of-pearl has attracted attention for thousands of years. The Louvre Museum features mother-of-pearl objects that belonged to the Sumerians and were found in Mesopotamia. In China, a dish with geometric-shaped pieces of mother-of-pearl was found that belonged to the Tang Dynasty in 618-906 A.D. Mother-of-pearl work was also common in ancient Italy, Greece and Cyprus. Today, different types of mother-of-pearl are commonly used in the art world. This type of art is certainly a challenge, for in order for them to be made into works of art, the mother-of-pearl pieces must be thick enough to withstand being worked upon and be of high enough quality to beautifully reflect colors of the rainbow.
Lapis is a strong blue microcrystalline rock composed primarily of the mineral lazurite. Its value decreases with the presence of white patches called calcite, while small veins of golden pyrite inclusions are often prized. Top quality lapis lazuli comes from Afghanistan, but small quantities are also found in Siberia, Chile, the United States, Pakistan and Canada. It is one of the most valuable semi-opaque stones and is a relatively soft gem, ranking 5.0-5.5 on the Mohs Scale.
First mined in Afghanistan in 6000 B.C., lapis lazuli was used to heal eye maladies and was thought to help one acquire wisdom and serenity. The Romans believed it was a powerful aphrodisiac, while the Egyptians used lapis for cosmetic purposes and often carved it into vases and figurines. The ancient city of Ur had a thriving trade in lapis lazuli as early as the fourth millennium B.C. The name comes from the Latin word “lapis,” meaning stone, and from the Arabic word “azul,” meaning blue.
In the Middle Ages, lapis was thought to free the soul from error, envy and fear. Used by artists during the Renaissance , ground lapis created a beautiful blue pigment for paintings. The stone was inlaid in the columns of St. Issac's Cathedral and the panels of the Pushkin Palace, both in Petersburg. Today, lapis lazuli is traditionally given as a 9th wedding anniversary gift. It is believed to free the wearer of melancholy and strengthen total awareness, creativity and ESP.
Amber is fossilized resin from ancient plants, especially coniferous trees. Tens of millions of years ago, if the conditions were right, this sticky resin would become encased in earth and gradually become fossilized. Resin that has not completely fossilized is called copal.
Sometimes leaves, bits of wood, and even the whole bodies of insects would be trapped along with the resin. Pieces of amber with the intact remains of ancient insects or other small organisms are rare and highly valued. More than 1,000 extinct species have been identified in amber.
Jewelry and History
Amber is translucent and range in color from dark brown to a light lemon yellow. It is very soft, with a hardness of 2.5 on the Mohs Scale, and it can be scratched easily. Jewelry with amber cabochons should be worn with care to prevent damage to the stones.
Amber has been used as jewelry for thousands of years. Homer mentions amber jewelry—earrings and a necklace of amber beads—as a princely gift in The Odyssey. Amber can be burned, and this produces a strong aroma the ancient Germans used as incense; they called it bernstein, or “burn stone.” Clear, colorless amber was considered the best material for rosary beads in the Middle Ages due to its smooth, silky feel.
Today, two main sources of amber are the Baltic Sea and the Dominican Republic. Amber from the Baltic states is older, but amber from the Dominican Republic is more likely to have insect inclusions.
Earring Back Types
Butterfly Back: A double looped piece resembling a butterfly that fits over a post. Variations on this design are called push back clasps. The basic post and butterfly back are usually used for stud earrings and lighter weight drop earrings.
Hinged Snap Backs: This clasp features a hinged post that snaps into a groove on the back of the earring. It is commonly found on hoops. Sometimes the hinged post is curved to provide more room to fit around the ear, sometimes called a saddleback.
Hook Backs: This earring backing is simply a long, bent post that fits through the piercing. Hooks have several variations, most notably the shepherd's hook and the French hook. While thin wire hooks reduce the weight of long earrings, making them more comfortable, they aren't as secure as other clasp styles.
Lever Back: A hinged lever snaps shut against the curved post to form a closed loop around the ear lobe. This clasp is very secure and good for large or medium sized styles that drop just below the ear.
Omega: Also called French clips, this clasp has a straight post and a looped lever. The hinged lever closes around the post and is held against the ear with pressure. The omega clasp is the most secure clasp, especially for the larger, heavier earrings.
Screw back: This backing is a slight variation of the standard post and butterfly nut back. Instead of pushing on the back, the nut twists onto the threaded post. A screw back post design is often preferred for expensive diamond stud earrings that require increased security.
Malachite is a stone that features light and dark green banded areas. Sleek and luxurious in texture, it contains natural black bands that vary from piece to piece, making it special and unique. Ancient Egyptians began mining it as early as 4000 BC! Malachite gems are found naturally combined with other minerals, such as chrysocolla. It's commonly found in Zaire, Russia, Germany, France, Chile, Australia and the southwestern United States. Considered the guardian stone of travelers, malachite is worn to detect danger and is believed to break into pieces when danger is near. Many believe malachite possesses the ability to calm the nerves. It is also known for creating peace, hope and success in business, as it can bring understanding and patience to those in its presence.