Today it is unusual to see diamonds or expensive colored stones set in silver. But until fairly recent introduction of white gold and the platinum alloys, silver was the only white precious metal available.
One of the well-known drawbacks of silver is that it tarnishes easily–old collections of diamond-set silver jewelry are virtually black. Silver is also less durable than karat gold or platinum, and because it conducts heat so well (it has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal), it is harder to work with in ring sizing jobs and other operations that require torch. Nonetheless, since it is much less expensive and more plentiful than gold or platinum, silver remains a popular jewelry metal. Literally tons of sterling silver chains, I.D. bracelets, religious medals, charms, and charm bracelets ore sold each year. Silver and turquoise jewelry in the American Indian style became very trendy in the 1960s and still has a loyal following. Much Scandinavian silver jewelry shows a clean, modern elegance in its bold designs. To legally qualify as sterling silver, the metal must be at least 92.5% pure silver by weight. The terms “Nickel Silver” and “German Silver” are actually misnomer for particular alloys which contain no silver.