Categorized | Gold and Silver

The Importance of Silver

Classified by chemists as both a transition metal and a precious metal, silver has many uses. As a precious metal, it may not be abundant in the earth’s crust but it is very attractive like gold and chemically active as well. These properties make it a desirable metal to be used in coins, jewelry and art.

Just like gold, silver has been used by humans for hundred of years. Occurring as a free element in nature, it can be extracted from its ore very easily. In modern applications, its most important use is in the field of photography where three of its compounds including silver chloride (AgCL), silver iodide (AGI), and silver bromide (AgBr) are used.

One of the precious metals that also include platinum, rhodium, palladium, iridium, and gold; silver is also used to make jewelry, mirrors, electrical equipment, medical and dental equipment, where it is oftentimes alloyed with gold. Probably first discovered after gold and copper, both of which occur as free elements in nature; silver has a very distinctive color that made it easier for early humans to find it, where they my have learned to extract it at some point.

However, its discovery must have occurred very early in history as archaeologists found objects made from this precious metal that dated to about 3400 BC. Drawings of the oldest pyramids in Egypt also showed men working with metal, which may have been extracting silver from its ores.

Although silver is relatively scarce, it is still the most plentiful and cheapest among all the precious metals. Nowadays, the largest silver-producing countries include the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Australia; while its sources may include those that are mined directly, mined as a by-product of gold, extracted from recycled materials, and those that came from lead and zinc mining. The silver bullion stocks that are traded in stock markets also make up a significant component of its supply.

The demand for silver usually comes from industrial uses, photography, and jewelry and silverware, which represent 95% of annual silver consumption. Its superior qualities have made it a highly-desirable industrial component, while its artistic beauty makes it one of the most sought-after precious metals.

One of the primary assets of silver is diversity due to its unique properties such as strength, malleability and ductility, reflectivity, sensitivity to light, beauty, and its ability to withstand extreme temperature changes. Because of these superior properties, groundbreaking researches had been made by scientists and engineers that affect the way people live.

Among the precious metals, it has significant demand in a number of sectors as diverse as coinage, electronics, superconductivity, imaging, water purification, and jewelry, making it more indispensable not just as a precious metal, but as a work of art, as an industrial metal, and for its store of value as well.

Because of its compelling industrial demands and store-of-value, the price of silver has fluctuated considerably over the last century with an estimated price of US $18 per troy ounce in 2010, making it the most affordable of all the precious metals.

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