German silver also known as alpaca silver is a metal which has 20% nickel, 60% copper, 20% zinc and 5% tin. A combination of all these metals gives a material which has a silvery gray color that people mistake for silver. This combination metal originated from China and has been used as a not so expensive substitute for silver.
When German silver came to the European markets it was being used for plating for European currencies. It was also used to make jewelry. The makers as well as the buyers found quite a few benefits in German silver jewelry.
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Benefits Of Jewelry Made Of German Silver
The main advantage of such metal is that it is less expensive and that it never rusts. It also never tarnishes. With time, however, a light green layer may be formed over the jewelry, but, that can also be polished. It can also be used in combination with turquoise stone to convert it into a beautiful jewelry.
In Combination With Silver
German silver, when used in combination with sterling silver, becomes stronger and hence makes a more durable jewelry. It can be used to make chains or ropes where pendants can be worn in. Alternatively one can also make necklaces and bracelets and even earrings from German silver.
The Beautiful Design
Even though, German silver does not have the luster of silver, it can be skillfully used to form alluring designs. German silver can be molded into beautiful designer jewelry.
As, it has a silvery look, and yet it is inexpensive, so it is a popular choice for jewelers. In South America German silver is made into chains and ropes in order to display pendants. Jewelers also make German silver wires wrapping them with semi-precious stones to make colorful pendants.
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German silver can be melted and molded into beautiful necklaces, earrings as well as bracelets. South American alpaca jewelry is rich in religious designs. It appeals to people of both Christian as well as indigenous faith. However in modern times South American German silver jewelry is also made in secular designs. Turquoise is the stone, which is most commonly used, with German silver to make jewelry pieces.
In many Asian countries like India and Bangladesh German silver jewelry is part of the small scale industry which employs relatively cheap labor. Traditionally craftsmen who work in German silver are members of a family who work in their houses or nearby factory sheds. Therefore, German silver jewelry is quite cheap in terms of labor charges.
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Labor is easily available in rural areas who often migrate to other parts of their countries to work as craftsmen of German silver jewelry. More importantly, even though it is not as expensive as silver, it can produce attractive and intricate designs. Cost of production, therefore, is never too high.
However, people often mistake German silver for real silvers. Though, professionals are capable of distinguishing between two different types of metal, consumers may be fooled quite easily. Sometimes wearing German silver jewelry may produce skin rashes. But this affects only those whose skin is sensitive to nickel.