Silver, or Ag to science buffs, has been used since around 700BC for a wealth of different purposes, and besides its practical uses, also has a rich cultural history. Today the uses of silver go far beyond just making shiny things, and it is used for purposes as diverse as medicine to superconductors.
Here are some sterling facts about silver.
1.Silver is better than cash
Silver is a great investment for those that play the stock market. Silver is long lasting and not perishable (it might tarnish a bit, but that can be cleaned off), and it can also be easily broken down into smaller quantities. This, along with the fact that Silver has a high weight to value ratio, makes silver a great trading commodity.
Best of all, silver values have remained relatively stable over the past few years, and have never fallen to zero, which cash currencies can, and have done.
2.Only approximately 20% of the world’s silver is used for jewellery
Despite the fact that silver remains among the most popular precious metals for crafting jewellery, this only accounts for one fifth of silver mined. Before the rise of digital recording, the film and photography industry used to use more silver than the jewellery market, through the use of silver nitrate.
The majority of silver today is used for pretty boring industrial uses, like circuits and batteries, where it makes a great material due to having the highest electrical conductivity of all metals. However, it might be quite pricey to rewire your home with silver.
3.Silver bullets kill werewolves
Whilst this might not be entirely true, silver has always held an esteemed position in folklore.
Traditionally silver was seen as a symbol of purity, a natural ward against evil, and possessing of magical qualities. Silver was the metal of the moon, and was often attributed similar qualities to the moon in folklore. This included a feminine aspect, positive “white magic” associations, purity, and healing powers.
4.Silver is good for you
The healing properties of silver aren’t all myth, and studies have shown that silver genuinely does possess medical benefits.
Silver had been traditionally used as a kind of disinfectant, with ancient Greek sailors putting silver coins in jars of produce so that it wouldn’t spoil on sea journeys. Even up until World War 2, silver nitrate was used as an antiseptic to treat wounds, and was only relatively recently replaced by modern antibiotics like penicillin.
Despite having fallen out of favour as a medical treatment, studies continue into what other untapped health benefits silver may possess.
5.Hallmarks can tell you a lot
Whether you’re antiquing, or buying a massive stack of silver bars, you need to know your hallmarks to know what you are buying.
Whereas fine silver has a purity of 99.9%, it is generally too soft to be used in practically. As such, any silverwork you buy would probably be sterling silver, which must have a purity of 92.5% to be labelled as such. Currently the hallmark for sterling silver is a heraldic lion, however designs have changed over the years, so you may have to do some research if you’re looking at older pieces of silverwork.
Hallmarks can also tell where the silver was made, like a rose for Yorkshire, or a crown for Sheffield. They can also tell you the date of production, although this may not necessarily be a number, so again, you may need to research. Finally there may be an individual maker’s mark.
Beware, hallmarks can be faked, so make sure any silverwork that you buy is from a reputable dealer.
So whether you’re a magpie for sparkly stuff, a metallurgist, or an antiques buff, silver is more than just a lump of shiny metal.
This is a guest post by My Family Silver. The company offers for sale beautiful examples of antique and modern silver from around the world
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