Silver Education | Metal knowledge |GemTrove

 

Know about Silver

 

Used widely for its brilliant shine and lustre, silver is one of the most popular metals to use in jewellery in the world today. Like gold, the use of silver dated back thousands of years and was revered by many different cultures for its polish and easily malleable nature. In recent years, silver has seen a huge jump in production and popularity and is playing a vital role in creating a sustainable environment through its use in solar panels.

History

The earliest evidence of the use of silver as a commodity was during the Bronze Age, where slag deposits have been found and dated around the Aegean Sea. It is, however, mentioned several times in the Book of Genesis and the various Gospels, and was one of the major assets of the Roman Empire. The Romans produced some 200 tonnes of silver per year and circulated more than 10,000 tonnes throughout their economy.

After the demise of the empire, silver was still a widely used metal in jewellery throughout the world. Particularly in the Islamic kingdoms and the Chinese dynasties during the middle ages, silver was seen as a sign of prosperity. Silver was regularly traded along Silk Road and into Europe, where it was widely used in rings, bands, earrings, and pendants. Silver was even used to treat grievous wounds.

While silver’s renown is linked to exceptionally beautiful jewellery pieces, the metal does possess a dark side to its history. Disputes over the exchange rates and processes for silver are to blame for beginning the tragic Opium War in the 19th century. Conquistadors forced the native Mesoamerican peoples to mine the metal for them to send back home to Spain. The Manhattan Project of World War II alone used over 14,000 tonnes of silver.

In the modern day, silver is still widely used in jewellery, where better polishing techniques have made it a much more durable metal than what it was in years gone by. Production of silver is at a historic high, with the largest silver mine ever constructed being located at Carrington in Queensland. Mexico, after almost continuous mining of the metal for well over half a century still produces more silver than any other country on earth.

Formation

Silver is represented as Argentum (Ag) in the periodic table and is quite a predominant metal throughout the world. The metal is produced by refining other substances such as copper, zinc, gold, and lead, where it is then separated from these compositions. Silver can also be extracted from lead deposits. The metal is the strongest electrical conductor, making it suitable for many high energy tasks and processes.

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