All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Usually It’s Silver!

Gold may be the number one precious metal from ancient times but the fact is that the vast majority of gold you see for sale is not pure gold – pure gold is exceptionally expensive and on its own, it’s not very strong. Your wedding ring will have a very hard life if it is crafted from pure gold alone, so usually, additional metals are added to strengthen it. Silver is one, but then again, silver stands on its own in the beauty stakes and just as gold has held the eye of men and women for thousands of years, so too has silver.

Silver is a soft, white, shining metal and it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element; silver also conducts heat far more efficiently than any other metal which makes silver the gold standard for your cooking pan bottoms! Unfortunately, most of us would never afford them so it’s just as well that copper provides a cheap alternative.

Silver occurs in natural form as an alloy or as a pure metal; it is commonly found in close proximity with gold and as electrum, a common alloy made of gold and silver along with several other common metals. Gold is rare however, and most silver is produced as a by-product from the extraction of other metals such as zinc, lead and copper.

Silver shares a common set of attraction factors with gold – it is appealing to the eye, it does not rust or discolor because it doesn’t react well with other elements and especially air and water. More than this, because it is soft and malleable, it has always found a place in jewelry making and its relative rarity has served to increase the value of the base metal and the silver decorative pieces made. Silver was also used to create the first coins in exactly the same way that gold was used – the value of the coin being equal to the value of the silver (or gold) which the coin contained, and from this the practice of hallmarking gold and silver jewelry and ingots.

Silver is widely used in industry and in many of the products we use in our daily lives. Silver is particularly useful in making electrical contacts because of its high conductivity. Many of the high-technology devices in your home, especially computers and modern televisions, have silver coated electrical contacts and rely on the excellent conductivity qualities of silver for their performance. Modern photography would not have been possible were it not for silver; silver compounds and solutions are used to “fix” the photographic image on paper. Silver nitrate is a disinfectant (albeit an expensive one) with medical uses, particularly as an anti-microbial agent. In industrial processes and the chemical industry, silver compounds play a crucial role as catalysts which render commercially viable manufacture of a very large range of chemical based products.

Like gold, silver has many uses far beyond simple adornment; man has treasured silver almost as much as gold through the ages, but the real value silver has rendered to our lives is much greater than many would otherwise believe.

 

Author Bio: By Lawrence Reaves.

 

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