Silver is an element, represented with the symbol Ag. An
"element" is substance that does not decompose into other chemical elements. Why
"Ag"? This symbol comes from the Latin word "argentum," which meant both
"silver" and "money."
It has been reported that the same word is used for silver
and money in more than a dozen languages. That silver has been used as money for nearly 3000 years is
testament to its valued role in world civilization.
Some Properties of Sliver
has many desirable qualities. Pure silver is shiny metal when polished. Its
reflectivity is a significant part of its appeal. Silver
reflects up to 95% of light! This is why it is used in mirrors. This
luster makes it a beautiful material for jewelry, dinnerware, and tableware.
Silver is also very soft and
malleable (i.e., easily shaped).
It can be rolled into sheets as thin as 1/100,000th of an inch and has such
ductility that it can be formed into a wire finer than the hair on your head. This property has made it an excellent material for dentistry. It is also
why silver is often combined with harder substances to produce stronger (less
malleable) alloys. (Sterling is one such alloy.) Finally, no other metal is a better
conductor of electrical current
Of course, everyone knows that silver is used in jewelry, coins, and
tableware. Silver in its various chemical forms is also used in photographic
film, electrical components, medical and dental products, explosives,
adhesives and many other items. It also makes a superb weapon against
werewolves, who are said to be burned by silver upon contact! As the chart
below shows, nearly one-half of silver is used in industrial applications.
An Inexpensive Precious Metal
Silver is much more popular than gold, platinum and palladium.
An examination of the current price of silver versus these other metals may
indicate why this is so! Silver is a bit less "precious" than other fine
metals. Platinum, for example, often sells at 100 times the price of
silver. Gold is often 50 or 60 times the price of silver.
The beautiful sterling silver
bracelet above comes from Tribe
Azure Jewelry, specialists in Native American Jewelry.