I read today that gold and silver prices have gone down a bit in the past couple of days after hitting all-time highs. I'm not going to get excited, because it's probably only a temporary trend. Also affected are the prices of platinum, palladium, and oil. I don't pretend to understand the stock or commodities markets, so I have little understanding as to why this has happened or what the future holds. I won't be surprised if we don't see a corresponding reduction in price when we purchase any of these commodity items, though. If you speak investor language, then you might be interested in reading about it at: http://www.tradingnrg.com/
Did you know that you can now purchase sterling silver-filled wire? It's made in the same way as gold-filled wire--there is a thick coating of sterling silver bonded around a base of brass or copper. It's a much thicker coating of silver than what is found on silver-plated wire, making the sterling silver-filled wire far more durable--and it can be soldered. In addition, it shouldn't trigger allergies in people who don't already have a problem wearing sterling silver.
I heard about sterling silver-filled wire for the first time a few days ago at Lisa Niven Kelley's website, Beaducation, where she explains how it compares to sterling silver and silver plate. http://www.beaducation.com/
If you go to Fire Mountain Gems you can see a drawing that shows how much thicker the silver is on sterling silver-filled wire than on silver-plated wire. http://www.firemountaingems.com/sterling-silver-filled.asp
Another site, Bead Factory, has an article comparing sterling silver, fine silver, and sterling silver-filled wire. http://www.thebeadfactory.com/catalog/pages.php?pageid=3
So at least we have an alternative to sterling silver that will hold up to being worn and won't cost us a fortune!