Ah, the gilded age. Master silversmiths made every accessory that could be imagined to be used by the wealthy elite class of the era. Pictured above is a selection from one of the largest silver services ever made by Tiffany & Co. legendary silver artist, John Moore.
"The the spectacular Mackay dinner-and-dessert service for 24, one of the most elaborate silver table services ever produced. Created from a half-ton of silver sent by prospector John Mackay from his Comstock Lode mines in Nevada, the 1,250-piece service, including hollow-ware and flatware, was developed from flower-encrusted Persian and Indian motifs, with thistles, shamrocks, and American flowers. The service took two years and 200 craftsmen to complete" (Quoted from "Tiffany & Co. for the press")
Each piece, such as the tureen
pictured here, displayed Mrs. Mackay's monogram and her father's family, Hungerford, crest.
Silver has been a sign of refinement and wealth for centuries. It's durability allows for future generations to enjoy it's service and beauty. That was then, but what about now?
Sets such as the one pictured to the left are being sold as scrap by their owners because their next generation does not want their silver. They are minimalists who do not want to polish it.
Silver boosts the Immune system and kills bacteria
There have been many studies including Dr. Robert O. Becker's “Effects of Electrically Generated Silver Ions on Human Cells and Wound Healing,” published in the journal Electro- and Magnetobiology 19(1), 1-19 (2000), which support the notion that silver has healing properties.
Stacey Chillemi, Contributor to HuffPost wrote an article in July 26, 2016 titled " 10 Silver Benefits and Uses Backed by Science". There is a bit of controversy over the benefits of Colloidal silver use, but in general, silver has been used for its antibiotic purposes for thousands of years.
Millennials can be seen everywhere wearing active wear embedded with silver microfibers and threads. Why don't they want Mom's flatware and hollow-ware?
There are several reasons. Young couples usually don't have domestic help to assist in polishing these luxury items, nor do they entertain formally or have extra space to display or store such items which may be used infrequently.
JewelRecycle owner Todd Melet says he is doing a brisk business in buying sterling silver and silver plate items. He says, "It's the three D's, Down sizing, Divorce and Deceased", driving his business in silver right now. Even the owners of these items who have had them passed to them from previous generations, are not entertaining the way they use to. Their children didn't grow up seeing their parents use these items daily so they don't apply sentiment or practicality to them.
Are sterling silver flatware and hollow-ware items a thing of the past? Tiffany & Co. is reviving sterling silver items with a touch of whimsy. You can find a dozen items that Martha Stewart recommends for new brides that include mostly silver plated items including a candelabra that is dishwasher safe from Blisshome.com She also lists items from Pottery Barn
and other vendors that Millennials frequent.
Sterling Silver jewelry is abundant, and I believe the properties of silver that have made it a cherished and valued metal for centuries will continue to draw fans and users. The items and their use will evolve to suit the next generation. Go ahead, sell grandma's silver, but don't buy stainless steel, buy new sterling and use it. The more you use it the less polishing you will need to do and there are many products available to assist in fighting that dreaded tarnish (oxidation). When your kids get ready to go to college, if they don't want it passed to them, you can always sell it to pay for some tuition expenses, you can't do that with stainless steel.