Silver is an ancient metal, with a varied and illustrious past. The elemental symbol is Ag, from the Latin word ‘Argentum’ – meaning white or shining. Discovered sometime around 4000 BCE, silver was first mined in order to make ornamental objects.
In the 11th and 12th century, in what we now call the British Isles, silver pennies were printed with a small star. A penny like this was called a steorling (most likely pronounced like “sterling”) in Old English, meaning “coin with star.” These steorlings were made up of 92.5% pure silver, with an alloy of 7.5% copper, just like sterling silver today.
Silver pennies weren’t always sterling, though; Henry II of England established this standard because those inclined to dishonesty would trim the edges of the softer pure silver pennies and keep the small pieces for later. Sterling silver, still a beautiful precious metal, was slightly more durable and discouraged this shifty habit.
Sterling is no longer used to make coins, but many recognized the advantage of a precious metal that was both beautiful and durable: two traits that are ideal in a favorite piece of jewelry.
When Michele Scholnick was a kid, she may have dreamt of being a ballerina, but jewelry designer didn’t cross her mind ’til some years later. She had passed a major deadline in her political science grad program, and decided on a whim to take some art classes. She tried glassblowing, graphic design, and jewelry. Somehow, even though she didn’t wear much jewelry at the time, Michele got hooked in two weeks.
Michele designs and creates her fabulous pieces in her studio in Venice, California. Within a two-minute walk from her studio, she can find any three of her current favorite meals: sushi, Argentinian tapas, or freshly-made, cinnamon-sugar-dusted mini-donuts. In her spare time, Michele likes to dance salsa, read fiction, and walk her dog, June, on the beach.