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Gold | Silver | Platinum


Silver usually occurs in massive form as nuggets or grains, although it may also be found in wiry, dendritic (tree-like) aggregates. Silver is a very ductile and malleable (slightly harder than gold) univalent coinage metal with a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high degree of polish. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, even higher than copper, but its greater cost and tarnishability has prevented it from being widely used in place of copper for electrical purposes. On exposure to oxygen in the air


a black layer of silver oxide readily forms, tarnishing the surface. Because of this, and the fact that it is too soft to be used in most jewellery in its pure form, silver is often alloyed with other metals or given a covering layer of gold. Electrum, an alloy of gold and silver in use since the time of the Ancient Greeks, contains 20-25 percent silver. Sterling silver contains 92Yz per cent or more pure silver (and usually some copper), and Britannia silver has a silver content of 95 per cent or more. Both alloys are used as standards to define silver content.

Silver Mirror Frame


Most silver is a by product of lead mining, and is often associated with copper. The main silver mining areas of the world are South America, the USA, Australia, and the former USSR. The greatest single producer of silver is probably Mexico, where silver has been mined from about AD 1 500 to the present day. The finest native silver, which occurs naturally in the shape of twisted wire, is from Kongsberg, Norway.


Electrical and electronic products, which need silver's superior conductivity, even when tarnished. For example, printed circuits are made using silver paints, and computer keyboards use silver electrical contacts. Silver (silver cadmium oxide) is also used in high voltage contacts because it can minimize any arcing.

Mirrors which need superior reflectivity for visible light are made with silver as the reflecting material in a process called silvering. Common mirrors are backed with aluminium. Silver has been coined to produce money since 700 BC by the Lydians, in the form of electrum. Later, silver was refined and coined in its pure form. The words for "silver" and "money" are the same in at least 14 languages.


Silver currency coin


Silver flute

Silver is also used in high end musical instruments for getting higher tone quality. Siver flute (right) is such an example. Silver saxophone, silver trumpets, silver harmonicas are other examples. silver strings are used in guitar and violin for higher quality sound.
Silver had beneficial healing and anti-disease properties, and the Phoenicians used to store water, wine, and vinegar in silver bottles to prevent spoiling. In the early 1900s people would put silver dollars in milk bottles to prolong the milk's freshness. Silver compounds were used successfully to prevent infection in World War I before the advent of antibiotics.

The metal is chosen for its beauty in the manufacture of jewelry and silverware, which are traditionally made from the silver alloy known as Sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver and usually alloyed with copper. The name of United Kingdom monetary unit 'Pound' originally had the value of one troy pound of sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The minimum millesimal fineness is 925. Fine silver (99.9% pure) is generally too soft for producing large functional objects, and in Sterling the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give strength whilst preserving the ductility of the silver and a high precious metal content.


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