Silver as a Precious Metal


Silver is one of only a few rare natural elements that has maintained its status as a precious metal in nearly all civilizations throughout history. Gold (Au), Silver (Ag), Platinum (Pt) and Palladium (Pd) are currently considered to be the world’s top precious metals. The silver element is truly unique among metals, and very useful for it’s wide range of desirable characteristics.

Durability

Silver is a relatively soft, yet very durable metal (slightly harder than gold), with the ability to withstand intense polishing, corrosion and weathering. Chemically, silver is less reactive than most elements, making it virtually incorruptible. It stores very well. In addition, silver share the attributes of both durability and malleability, a combination that makes them ideal for shaping into metallic objects for a wide variety of personal and industrial uses.

Aesthetic Beauty

silver-precious-metalSilver has a beautiful brilliant white metallic luster, with the highest optical reflectivity of any other element, next to aluminum. Silver is a top choice for decorative ornaments, coins, jewelry, plating, mirrors, silverware and several other valuable items. Silver is known to tarnish through oxidization, where silver is exposed to air containing hydrogen sulfide, leaving a blackish bi-product of silver sulfide (tarnish). Although it lessens the aesthetic beauty of the silver, tarnish does not corrupt the silver itself. Tarnished silver can be cleaned and re-polished for centuries, returning the original appearance and shine. This makes silver a very timeless metal for precious artifacts and heirlooms.

Quality Alloys

britannia silver silverwareBecause silver is a softer metal, most silver items are made from a silver alloy. For example, most jewelry and silverware is made from sterling silver, a 92.5% silver/7.5% copper mix (to add durability). Most sterling silver is finished with a 99.9% pure silver plating for a shinier, whiter finish. Britannia silver (95.8% pure) is also a common blend of silver, used for more luxurious dinnerware and collectors items, including some British silver coins. In the United States, items claiming to be silver must be at least 92.5% (sterling) pure to be sold and marketed as such. Throughout the twentieth century, the US Treasury made 90% silver coins (10% copper), to give circulated coins longer life. In the 1970s, some US silver dollars used a 40% silver alloy.

Wealth & Currency

Certainly one of silver’s most popular uses has been for currency. As far back as 700 BCE, there are records of civilizations using silver coins as money. Since then, it has remained a common practice for cultures to use silver coins for bartering and facilitating trade. Today, there are hundreds of varieties of silver coins, of different designs, rarities, nationalities, sizes and shapes.

Regardless of silver’s role in history or it’s uses in industry, it has withstood the test of time as a highly coveted material for investment, collecting, utility and industry. It’s constant value and demand truly make it one of the world’s most precious metals.

 

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