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Mineral Monday: Silver

Give your imagination free reign for a moment and allow it to conjure up a scene some countless years ago. A group of Anglo Saxon nobles are admiring their captured loot; consisting of plates, bowls, dishes, jewellery, rings and necklaces all made of one thing… silver.

Considered a precious metal for thousands of years silver has found a plethora of uses throughout the ages, from ornaments and utensils through to jewellery and even as the basis for many monetary systems. Both the Roman and Chinese Empires relied heavily on silver bullion as the basis of their currencies.

Where is it produced / mined?

Archaeological records indicate that silver has been mined since early times with silver being separated from lead as early as the 4th millennium BC, with one of the earliest silver mines located in Sardinia.

Currently the principle sources of silver are the ores of copper and lead (amongst others) mined in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, China, Poland and Serbia. Additionally, Tajikistan is known to have some of the largest silver deposits in the world.

Did you know?

• Silver is one of the most reflective elements. Used in telescopes, microscopes and solar cells, polished silver is known to reflect up 95% of visible light!
• Silver is the best electric conductor of the elements. It is used as the standard by which other conductors are measured.
• A single grain of silver (~65mg) can be pressed into a sheet 150 times thinner than the average sheet of paper.
• Silver iodide has been used in ‘cloud seeding’, a process which attempts to cause clouds to produce rain.
• The modern Olympic Gold Medal is in fact made of sterling silver which is then plated with 6 grams of pure gold!
• Silver is being put into paper used in medical professions thanks to its antibiotic-like characteristics.
• In ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe, silver was often more valuable than gold.

And on that suitably historic note, we end our overview of silver; a metal that has played a vital part in the lives of countless billions throughout the years as a status symbol, currency, and more!