Is Sterling Silver Really The Poor Woman’s Gold?

There is an old adage referring to sterling silver as being the “poor man’s gold”. But for such a title, sterling silver could not be described as the next best thing to gold, because there is such a difference between the two. Regardless of the huge difference in value, there are many reasons to choose sterling silver over gold.

Sterling silver lasts a long time and cleans up beautifully. Whereas in my opinion, the thing to avoid is gold and silver plated jewellery, because over time the plating wears off. Jewelery should not turn into junk within ten or twenty years. As a matter of fact, fine jewelery – if taken care of should last forever. For example, the new Hermes bracelets are plated with platinum, which is not a good deal for seven or eight thousand dollars each. They will not stand up to the test of time.

Sterling silver is a more relaxed medium for artists, allowing creative freedom in the design, to include clunky and large pieces, and best of all – the extensive use of coloured gemstones. You don’t see that in gold jewelery very often.

The modernist lines, open work, and carving in some sterling silver, is quite remarkable. There is time-consuming finesse in the workmanship involved. Sterling silver can be worn with any outfit, from casual to ballroom. From bold and heavy to delicate and cascading, it can be matched to the style of an outfit and the personality of the wearer. It does not have the look of being overtly gaudy or ostentatious – yet there is enough pizzazz in some of the designs to turn heads.

For a fraction of the cost of gold – you get artistic workmanship second to none. Personally I would rather buy a unique artisan sterling silver piece of jewelery over and above a platinum plated Hermes bracelet any day, regardless of how much money I had to spend.

Therefore in my humble opinion – the oxymoron in the old gold adage, is that the gold plated jewelery is really the poor woman’s gold, even though it might be very expensive.

And sterling silver? If it is well crafted, nothing beats it for everyday wear. For special occasions – there are some sterling silver gemstone statement pieces that can rival any other jewelery design or materials.

The silversmith world is full of master craftspeople who exhibit endless creativity and lasting value in the pieces they compose. In truth, there is no other metal with such an illustrious history of design.

I’m writing this early in the morning, and am not thinking too much about wearing either silver or gold. But the latest song I have enjoyed playing and singing, is the Emmylou Harris song called “Gold” from her “All I Intended To Be” album. The chorus line “No matter how bright I glitter, baby – I could never be gold…” Makes sense to me!

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Valerie Hayes

Quiet West Vintage represents a private vintage and designer collection that has been gathered and stored over a thirty-five year period. I now look forward to sharing this collection and promoting the "Other Look" - a totally individualistic approach to style.