American Silver Origins

Now that I have discovered I can get silver which has been manufactured in the United States, I am curious about where it is mined and the history of silver mining in the U.S.

 

Silver was first discovered in America in 1858 under the area now known as Virginia City, Nevada. This discovery became known as the Comstock Lode, named after Henry Comstock who claimed the mine was on/under his land. After the public learned of the discovery in 1859, prospectors rushed to the area to claim what they could find. As the area was mined, gold was also found, which drew even more people to the area. It is estimated that by 1882, over $300 million worth of metal was mined from this area.

 

In 1873, the United States government demonetized silver, meaning they took away its status as currency/money. By the late 1870s, silver mining in Nevada had greatly decreased. Silver mining did continue, but not at the rate it had been going.

 

Today, Nevada comes in second in silver production after Alaska. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), domestic silver was produced in 35 mines as of 2011 1. This is down one mine from 36 mines in 2006 2. The USGS states, “In 2011, the United Sates produced approximately 1,160 tons of silver with an estimated value at $1.27 billion.” In 2006, the U.S. produced approximately 1,100 tons of silver. In spite of this which appears to be an increase in silver production over the course of five years, I am finding reports that the overall production of U.S. silver production is actually decreasing.

 

There are several other silver producing states besides Alaska and Nevada. Idaho, Montana, and Utah also all produce large amounts of silver. Some other states where silver has been found are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Please note, silver is no longer mined in some of these locations.

 

Silver demand has increased over the past several years and now it is not only used in jewelry, coins, and silverware, but also in electronics, mirrors, solar cells, and many other applications. This increasing demand, in combination with some other factors, has sent the prices on a rapid incline. In 2001, silver prices were in the range of $4.00 (US) per ounce. Today they are almost $40.00 (US) per ounce.  Luckily, silver recycling is quickly gaining popularity. As a jewelry designer, I am able to save my silver scrap and send it to one of my suppliers who will recycle it. This keeps the material costs down for me and ultimately for you.

 

As a side note, on a global level, Mexico is the world’s largest silver producing country. China and Australia have recently seen an increase in silver production.

 

Hopefully, this has been interesting for you. I definitely learned a few things. There is so much more I could write, but I don’t want to bore you, so I will leave you with photos of my latest creations.

These can be found on my Etsy site here:

 Hammered Diamond-Shaped Necklace

Hammered Diamond-Shaped Earrings

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I thank you for stopping by!

 

References:

1: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2012 (PDF)

2: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2007 (PDF)

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Dreaming…

I hope you all had a relaxing holiday! I can’t believe we have now passed Labor Day…

 

As I look back over this past summer, I am trying to focus on the things I accomplished and not worry about the things I did not accomplished. That can be a challenge. For those of you who follow me regularly, you know I’m a big fan of learning from events in life. It’s basically the concept of finding something positive in every situation.

 

Something I learned this summer is if you want something badly enough, you can usually accomplish it as long as you are physically able and willing to put a little time, effort, and (possibly) money into it. Oh…and patience. Patience is important.

 

In my business, I have decided to move forward with some things that once seemed like dreams. I was concerned about spending the money, but I believe it will pay off in the long run. I will never know if they will work or not unless I try.

 

I have wanted a white canopy (EZ-UP) for some time now. This is considered a standard for craft shows and is often required for higher-end juried shows. I finally went out and purchased one yesterday. I was going to put it off until this winter or next spring, but my husband reminded me about end-of-season sales and the fact that it will be harder to find a canopy after cookout season is over.

 

Yesterday I also decided to purchase some silver to make the all-silver jewelry I’ve been dreaming about for months. Again, I was concerned about spending the money, but I think the timing was best. I have been watching silver prices very closely for the past few months and I think I’d be investing more money into it if I waited much longer. In July, silver was around $26 per ounce. Last week, it was around $30 per ounce. Yesterday, it was around $32 per ounce. Awhile back it was $40 per ounce and it did come back down, but they don’t think that will happen again for a long time, if ever.

 

Please note, this silver isn’t just any silver. It’s USA-made silver, which goes with another one of my dreams. As I have previously written, I love the idea of USA-made items created with USA-made components. It’s going to be awhile until I get my entire jewelry line to that point, but I have to start somewhere, so why not now?

 

The other dream I started to aim for is the completion of a certification I’m working on. I have been working on achieving my Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP) certification through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for a little over a year now. It’s a 3-course certification and I finally started the third and final course yesterday. While this certification might not pay off for me right away, I think it will pay off in the long run. If nothing else, it is building my understanding of metals, gemstones, and the jewelry industry.

 

Speaking of my jewelry-making dreams, I felt inspired by an image I saw yesterday and I decided to make a pair of earrings based on that inspiration. I can’t remember what the design I saw was, but I made some changes and this is what I ended up with:

What do you think? I love them! These are created with sterling silver and cultured freshwater pearls. They are not listed on Etsy yet, but they should be up soon. I will let you know when I post them!

 

So with a little bit of patience, a little bit of determination, and a little bit of money I have accomplished one of my business dreams and started on two more. As hard as it is for me to remember, if I get knocked down when I’m in the heat of the fight, I must get up, brush off the dirt, and move forward.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Latest and Greatest in Wire

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m aiming toward creating more solid metal jewelry for my collection. Part of this incorporates the use of sterling silver wire. I have felt inspired to play with some wire lately and came up with a few pairs of simply elegant earrings. Please excuse me while I show them off…

 

This pair was created after I created a pair just like them on a whim as a gift. After I gave the first pair away, I realized I had not taken a photo of them! I had to make another pair just so I could get a photo…and also because I think they are really pretty! The thin lines lengthen the face and the delicate design goes perfectly with anything and on anyone!

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Curved Wire Earrings

 

The next pair I created by accident. I was hoping for a completely different design than what I ended up with and I’m glad they worked out the way they did. The initial creation left me with two earrings that did not look similar enough for my liking, so I cut parts off, hammered other parts for texture, bent and curled and the result is as follows:

I wish I could show these in motion. They move with such grace!  Again, the solid silver design allows these earrings to go anywhere.

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Semi-Circle Earrings

 

This last pair was just for fun. I had an idea and ran with it; luckily, it turned out nicely. At first glance, these earrings are a bit funky, but I think you could really dress them up or wear them for a day at the mall. The sleek silver lines give them a simple elegance with a modern twist.

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Zigzag Earrings

It’s funny how you can take something as simple as a single strand of wire and come up with something that has such a “wow” effect. I really enjoyed making these, and I think I’m on the right track as I am moving forward with doing more solid metal designs.
Have you let your imagination run wild lately? Go ahead, release your creativity. It might give you a boost of confidence or least give you a few moments of fun. Just try something new!

Thanks for stopping by!