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Gold & Silver

Interesting Facts About Silver That You Never Knew

Sep 6, 2022

Let’s take a walk on the silver side of history and learn some fun facts that you might not already know!

How was silver discovered?

The first evidence of silver mining dates back to 3000 B.C. in Turkey and Greece. However, silver objects dating from before 4000 B.C. have been found in Greece, and later, in Anatolia (what is now known as Turkey) and the Sumerian city of Kish. Yet it wasn’t until Spanish conquistadors made their way to the “New World” — aka the Americas — that they discovered that South America was home to rich veins of silver and silver ore. According to the Silver Institute, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico accounted for more than 85% of the world’s silver production and trade between 1500-1800, and bolstered Spanish influence.

Fun fact: silver was also one of the first metals discovered and used by humans. Others included gold, copper, lead, iron, and tin.

Why does silver tarnish?

First things first — pure silver never tarnishes. However, pure silver is too soft as a pure element, so it’s often combined with other metals to create something stronger and more durable. The most common example is sterling silver, which is made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, most typically copper. While the addition of copper makes silver more durable, it also makes it more likely to tarnish because of the reaction that takes place when copper is exposed to other chemicals in the air.

Industrial Uses of Silver 

Silver in its purest form is one of the best conductors of heat and electricity. And because it can create electrical pathways that don’t require the use of wires, it’s become a significant material used in industrial applications. Today, more than half of the silver that’s produced or purchased is used in electrical systems, electronics, autos, and solar power — so just about everything!

It’s also one of the best reflectors of visible light, which is part of the reason why it has been a mainstay in the photographic industry. Dating back to the 1830s, daguerreotypes were created by a sheet of silver-plated copper that was treated with fumes that made its surface light-sensitive and exposed to a camera. From there, a series of chemical treatments yielded a photographic-like result. While photography has adapted tremendously in the last 90+ years, silver still has a place in the photography industry today.

Healing & Health Benefits Of Silver 

One unique fact about silver is that it has proven health benefits. Now let’s dig into the specific healing and health benefits of silver. Silver has the unique ability to penetrate the cell walls of bacteria, preventing it from growing and spreading. In other words, silver can act as an antibiotic. Incidentally, long before scientists recognized this particular quality of silver, people used the metal to prevent infection. During World War I, wounds suffered on the battlefield were wrapped in silver foil or sutured with silver. On long ocean voyages, silver coins were dropped into water and wine casks to keep liquids fresh. And today, silver coatings are being placed on medical devices (such as breathing tubes and catheters) and treatments (such as bandages and ointments) to help fight infections.

How much is silver worth? 

As of August 2022, the cost of silver — or more precisely, one troy ounce of silver — is worth $19.20. Similar to other valuables, the price of silver fluctuates with the market. It can be challenging to determine the best time to buy or sell silver, but we are here to help!

Have more questions about silver? 

We’d love to answer them! We can also provide estimates on any pieces of silver jewelry, flatware, coin collections, bullions and more if you’re looking to sell. Get in touch today!

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