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Silver: history and use

Silver: history of silver mining, and the use of silver.

Silver (Ag= Argentum) is a precious metal, most often comes in white color. It possesses qualities such as ductility, malleability and ductility. Silver is softer than copper, but harder than gold. This metal is ideal for jewelry production, since it has a sufficiently low melting temperature of 960 degrees. It is able to be well polished.

Even in Medieval times, silver was smelted ware, minted coins, and of course, created jewelry - rings, earrings, charms, pendants. Silver, like gold, is known to mankind since ancient times, because often met in the nuggets, and it was not necessary to smelt it from ore.

Pure silver is not commonly used as it is a very soft metal. In order to increase the hardness of silver other metals are added, usually copper.

For jewelry 925 silver is used. It contains 92.5% of silver and 7.5 % of copper. Often 925 silver is called sterling silver. The term sterling silver is believed to have come from the coins that were minted in Germany in the 12th century. The area was called Easterling. Coins contained 92.5% silver.

In our time, sterling silver is widely used in the production of jewelry, silverware, and more. It is appreciated for its high purity, hardness and durability, and, of course, beauty.

According to chemical properties, pure silver is not a reactive metal. For example, at normal temperatures silver does not react with oxygen or water. But other metals that are included in the composition
of 925 silver, usually copper, may eventually be oxidized. Learn how to avoid darkening of silver and how to properly care for it on the pages of our website.

Mankind has been familiar with silver for a very long time. In all Indo-European languages the name of this metal sounds alike ("silber", "silver", and so on), and comes from the word "Sarpa", which in Sanskrit means moon.

Be that as it may, the history of the discovery of silver begins in ancient times. An exact date is not taken. However, from written sources it is known that the ancient Egyptians made jewelry from silver. Back then, gold was much rarer, and therefore was prized more than silver. The first silver mines were found by the Phoenicians before our era in Spain, Corsica and Cyprus. Silver jewelry was a valuable commodity that was taken from far away and sold at fantastic prices. So, in Ancient Rome, a tiny bit of silver for a long time was almost the pinnacle of luxury.

A similar approach to the very popular metal can be explained primarily by the fact that in ancient times it was known only to native silver. However, finding it was difficult, primarily because of sulfide, which covers the nuggets in dark coating.

Thus, the history of the discovery of silver can be divided into several stages. Important landmark experiments were by medieval alchemists, the aim of which was to transform other metals into gold. Silver was considered as a "transit point" in this way. Through trial and error, the Europeans learned to extract the silver from its compounds with chlorine, arsenic and other chemical elements. At the same time, it was noted the similarities between silver and copper (they even considered as one metal, which simply has a different color).

In the history of the discovery of silver are such prominent names as Paracelsus, Scheele, and others. These scientists studied both the metal and its compounds. The reason for their close interest was the amazing properties of silver. We are talking first and foremost about its disinfectant qualities that were seen in ancient times. For example, the Egyptian doctors used silver plates for the treatment of wounds: the wound was festering and healed much faster.

Another interesting fact from the history of silver gave us the conquest of Alexander the Great. It is known that one of the reasons that led to the unsuccessful completion of his Indian campaign, steel intestinal infections, exhausted soldiers, and led a great army to turn back. Meanwhile, military commanders from the disease almost did not suffer, though, was with his subordinates almost in the same conditions. This oddity is explained by the fact that ordinary soldiers used pewter dishes, while the officers relied silver dishes.


European aristocracy also evaluated the antibacterial properties of this metal, so that the concept of "silverware" for many centuries had become synonymous with expensive and high-quality cookware. This became possible due to the fact that more modern methods of production of silver were developed. They helped to reduce the cost of production and make the silver more accessible.

Not only in the middle Ages, but much later than the main computational tool remained coins from silver. They are still most often found in old treasures.

By the way, silver Russians owe and the name of their currency, silver coins. In fact, for Russia it was often used silver bullion, which were literally cut off the right amount. So it became normal to use the word "ruble", combining national history with the history of silver.

Since the late nineteenth century silver rarely used for minting money. Today, coins of silver produced in very limited quantities on the occasion of any significant events. The reason lies in the fact that in addition to the disinfecting properties of silver has a whole series of others. Everyone knows that bits of silver was used to create the first photos. In addition, the conductivity of silver is the highest among all metals. It is not surprising that with the development of electronics and electrical engineering the demand for it grew.

Until recently it seemed that the stocks of silver are not in danger. However, today high-tech industries have a shortage of this precious metal. So the price of silver, which is now ten times lower than the value of gold, will only grow.

At the same time more and more persistent attempts to find a silver replacement will arise. So it is possible that silver jewelry will one day be valued as highly as those that are manufactured today are made of platinum.

History of silver would be incomplete if we do not mention another important fact: in the world there is a whole country that is obliged to silver its name. It is, of course, said about Argentina. Back in the early sixteenth century Spanish Conquistador Sebastian Cabot, by lifting up a large South American river, was struck by the abundance of silver among the local Indians. So the river, followed by the whole country was named La Plata ("silver"). After the liberation from Spanish rule the inhabitants of the former overseas colonies decided to change it, based on the Latin name for silver ("argentum").