Given an atomic number of 47, silver is an element with Ag as its symbol. It is a white, soft, shiny transition metal. It is the most conductive electrical and thermal metal. It is also the most reflective metal known to mankind.
Derivation of Name
The word "silver" is found in Anglo-Saxon with different spellings like “siolfor” and “seolfor.” The metal derives its chemical symbol Ag from the Latin word Argentum” (Greek: άργυρος árguros, Latin: Argentum, both having Indo-European origin”arg,” meaning “shining” and "gray".)
In nature, silver occurs as an alloy of gold (Electrum.) It is also found in ores having arsenic, sulfur, chlorine and antimony. It is found in its free, pure form as an alloy of gold with other metals. It is associated with minerals like Chlorargyrite and Argentite too. Most of it is created as a by-product during refining of metals like copper, lead, gold and zinc.
Generally, silverware and jewellery is made using sterling silver, also called standard silver, an alloy containing 92.5% silver plus 7.5% copper. The US allows only those alloys to be marked as silver, which contain a minimum of ninety percent pure silver. This class of silver is generally stamped as 900. Sterling silver, stamped as 925, is harder than unadulterated silver. Its melting point of 893 degrees Celsius is lower than that of pure copper or silver. Silver tableware plus wrought plates is made of another variety of silver known as Britannia silver which contains 95.8 percent silver.
The main sources of silver include ores of copper-nickel, copper, lead-zinc and lead found in Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Australia, China, Chile, Serbia and Poland. Bolivia, Mexico and Peru who have continued to mine silver since 1546, and are the foremost producers worldwide. Mines offering superior quality of silver are found in Cannington (Australia), Antamina (Peru), Fresnillo (Mexico), Penasquito (Mexico), Rudna (Poland) and San Cristobal (Bolivia).
Apart from being considered as a treasured metal since ages, silver is also used for making currency coins, jewellery, ornaments, solar panels, superior and expensive utensils and tableware and for water filtering machines. Many invest in silver coins. Silver finds industrial application in production of electrical conductors and contacts, in specific kinds of mirrors, catalysis of chemical reactions and special types of window coatings. X-rays and photographic films contain silver compounds. Dilute solution of silver nitrate and supplementary silver compounds find use as disinfectants and micro biocides. These are included in wound dressings and bandages, catheters and quite a few health checkup instruments.