Sterling Style

Summer is here, and that means short sleeves, cool colors, and plenty of new sleek silver jewelry.

• The Topkapi Tile collection from GeoArt by Cynthia Gale was prompted by Gale’s trip to Istanbul. The Topkapi Palace is visualized in sculpted floral motifs like tulips, while carnelian and iolite gems reflect the colors in the country’s hand-painted tiles. Gale’s homage to Turkish artisanal luxury ranges in retail price from $40 to $284.

• The premiere of the Nouveau Luxe collection marks Chad Allison’s first foray into silver. The styling is French rococo, yet still reflects Allison’s signature romantic aesthetic (think fleur-de-lis). Pieces are accented with 18k yellow gold, diamonds, and colored stones, and retail for $300–$3,900.

• Meanwhile, Robert Lee Morris has reinterpreted styles from the 1970s for fall 2010, offering fans five stories priced $95–$1,295: cobblestones—a reinvention of the Alpha collection; Futura (a line inspired by the work of architect Zaha Hadid); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which consists of three subcollections dubbed Petals, Coins, and Carved Stones. —Jennifer Heebner

Polishing a Tarnished Reputation

Now that more and more designers are turning to silver (see “The Silver Lining,” JCK, June 2010, p. 68), tarnish prevention has become an even peskier problem. Retailers know that if silver doesn’t move, tarnish can transform slow sellers into dead stock.

The Beneq Thin Film System TFS 500: Saving
silver manufacturers from the scourge of tarnish?

The condition—which stems from sterling silver’s reaction with sulfur in our environment—has plagued the industry for years. Metallurgists have created alloys (Sterlium Plus, Argentium) that reduce discoloration. Man­ufacturers have taken to using decorative platings like rhodium and palladium—plus the more recent thin-film technology PVD (physical vapor deposition)—but none of those can completely conform to ­jewelry’s ­complex designs and geometries.

But at last May’s Santa Fe Symposium on ­Jewelry Man­ufacturing Technology, Beneq Oy of Vantaa, Finland, announced an exciting innovation in antitarnish technology: nSILVER®, which promises a thin (98 nanometers), uniform, “defect-free” protective layer against corrosion. “From the presentation, ­nSILVER® looks like a winner, although the process appears to be capital-intensive,” says Stuller director of manufacturing technology Shan Aithal. Given the price tag (several hundred thousand euro) and the capacity of the machine used for the coating process, it’s not something you’re likely to find at your neighborhood jeweler. But if manufacturers want to boost the shelf life of their sterling silver stock, that could be enough incentive for them to dig deep. —JCK staff