What is money?
History and origin of silver
Olympic medals, jewelry, coins, sculptures, electronic parts: silver metal is omnipresent in every facet of our society and everyday life. It is one of the most renowned precious metals, thanks to its strength and beauty. In this article, let’s rediscover the properties and uses of silver metal, not to mention the investment opportunities it represents!
What is silver metal?
Silver is a relatively rare precious metal, found in the earth’s subsoil in its native state, i.e. as a more or less pure chemical element. It is a chemical element with atomic number 47 and symbol “Ag”. Silver metal is also known as white metal.
It is a ductile, malleable metal that is stronger than gold. It can be stretched without breaking, and is easily worked. Silver has always fascinated by its color, brilliance and reflective properties. In fact, its name comes from the Indo-European “Arg” or “Ar-jun” in Sanskrit, which in both cases means “brilliant”.
It resists oxidation like gold and copper. Silver metal is the best known metal for conducting heat and electricity under normal temperature and pressure conditions. It is also insoluble in water and alkalis.
It is estimated that 70% of world production is used in monetary production, while the remainder is used in goldsmithing, photography and chemistry. The main silver-producing countries are Mexico, Peru, China, Australia, Russia, Bolivia and the United States.
Silver metal derivatives
Silver metal is mainly used to make jewelry and other valuable objects. The silver content of these objects can vary, which is why there are several different types of silver:
- Solid silver: silver metal is said to be solid if it contains at least 80% pure silver.
- Plated silver: if a layer of silver covers a conventional metal, it’s called plated silver. In this case, the jewelry is lighter than solid silver jewelry.
- German silver: also known as Alpaca silver. It is an alloy of zinc, nickel and copper that imitates the reflections of silver.
- Rhodium-plated silver: rhodium protects the metal against oxidation. Solid silver is coated with a layer of rhodium by electrolysis, bearing in mind that rhodium is also a very rare precious metal.
The origin of silver metal
It is estimated that silver was first mined 5,000 years ago. The first veins and mines discovered contributed to the enrichment of numerous civilizations in the Near East, Greece and Crete.
Like gold, silver rapidly became a predominant currency of exchange over several centuries. It is estimated that the first silver coin dates back to the 6th century B.C. It is said to have been struck by Croesus, King of Lydia, to obtain a coin made from an alloy of gold and silver.
What is silver used for?
Silver was first used as a currency by the Libyans and other civilizations around the world. Today, silver metal coins are still minted for commemorative purposes or as investments: silver, as gold, is a safe-haven asset against currency devaluations, in this case the euro.
Silver is also used in the production of jewelry and goldsmiths’ items, either as a base material or as a coating (the silver plating mentioned above). Silver jewelry is prized by the French for its aesthetic appeal and somewhat more affordable price than gold jewelry.
Silver is one of the precious metals used in industry thanks to its high electrical conductivity. Even when oxidized, silver is a better conductor than copper. It is also used in silver photography, notably in radiography, and in music for the manufacture of instruments and loudspeakers.
You’ll find silver in other products such as :
- solar panels;
- water filtration ;
- dishwashing ;
- mirrors ;
- disinfectants ;
- dental amalgams ;
- clothing ;
How to buy or sell silver?
Investing in silver allows you to secure your savings, since it is a safe-haven investment. Unlike traditional bank products such as the Livret A passbook savings account, savings invested in silver metal do not lose value over the years through inflation or crises: silver’s price is stable, if not rising. Buying silver silver ingot or coins helps you diversify and consolidate your assets.
You may also be able to obtain silver coins You may have inherited a silver coin, or you may already have some in your possession! In this case, you can call on the expertise of a silver coin expert to obtain an estimate of its value based on rarity, state of preservation and silver metal content.
You can rely on LMP to help you with your silver coin project.buying and selling silver ! We welcome you to our Paris branches to estimate your silver coins and ingots free of charge.