I make jewellery from vintage and antique, silver plated cutlery . People often ask me why I don’t make it from sterling silver so here’s a little blog explaining why.
The first reason is there is so much unloved silver plated cutlery in the world, between 1890-1960’s it was the metal of choice for cutlery so there is tonnes and tonnes of it about, various quality, some worn out , some plain some beautiful patterns and in pristine condition. Often still in the original box and often with cards, messages or labels giving a glimpse into its previous life. This makes it reasonably cheap and easy to get, one of our favourite parts of the job is trawling the huge antique fair at Newark and coming home with a massive haul !
Then there are rules that apply to sterling silver, like the silversmiths who send their pieces away to be hallmarked, things made from sterling silver cutlery should be sent away to the assay office to be given a change of use certificate. I don’t know how strict they were in the past but I recently heard of a lady in Norfolk who was visited by trading standards and told to remove all her sterling silver cutlery jewellery from sale until she had the certificates or be fined £1000. It’s only fair that if you want to use silver you follow the rules like all the hard working jewellers who pay for their hallmarks and include this in their costs.
I also think about the cost, obviously sterling silver cutlery is more expensive, has quite a value even as scrap , especially if it’s a heavy serving spoon or a big fork . It takes the same amount of work ( in fact it’s often easier to work with ! ) but the finished product has to be expensive to pay for the silver value, and being sent to the assay office and my thoughts are that if you are going to invest £150-£200 on a piece of jewellery you might not want a bit of old cutlery.
Using plated cutlery keeps my prices in the bracket suitable for gifts or a treat for yourself but you still get something pretty, upcycled and with a bit of history.
Thanks for taking the time to read my little blog.