Silver is the oldest precious metal

Silver is the oldest precious metal
Picture: Björn Wylezich | Dreamstime

In ancient times, silver was believed to have magical powers.

Silver jewelry testified to the high status of their owner. People believed that rings and bracelets that did not darken for a long time retained a beautiful shine, brought good luck and prosperity.

Many centuries ago, silver was used to purify water and heal wounds. Even then they noticed that the mysterious metal has a beneficial effect on a person’s well-being. Such an amazing property of silver has been confirmed by both observations and scientists. In ancient Babylon and Assyria, this mineral served as a symbol of the moon, was revered no less than gold.

History of Silver

Deposits of silver, a ductile noble metal, were found several millennia BC. The substance began to be used in Egypt, Persia, China, since it did not need to be melted down, deposits were found in the form of nuggets. People learned to clean metal covered with a black coating of sulfide approximately 2.5 thousand years ago.

Large deposits of ores containing silver were discovered by the Phoenicians in the territory of modern Spain, Cyprus, Armenia, Sardinia. They contained a lot of mercury, arsenic, fluorine, but there were also nuggets, the largest of them weighed more than 13 tons.

Gold is a metal that is valued at all times
Gold is a metal that is valued at all times

The first precious metal coins were minted in Mesopotamia in 550 BC. Since then, the value of silver has risen rapidly. In the Middle Ages, alchemists used compounds from a mysterious substance for their experiments, trying to get gold. Somewhat later, silver was used for making dishes.

The metal’s Latin name, Argentum, means “light” in Sanskrit. Argitus is translated from ancient Greek as “white”. The Russian word silver, English Silver resemble the Indian Sarpa, which symbolized the Moon, denoted a sickle – a tool for working in the field.

In order to estimate the cost of goods in Rus’, a certain piece was cut off from a silver bar. They were charged for different things. Most likely, the name of the monetary unit – the ruble – came from here.

The second time Argentum was discovered by purifying gold from impurities using lead. Obtaining silver in this way and its characteristics have found application in the manufacture of coins and jewelry. In Egypt, this metal was called Asen, in Greece – Electron.

Metal deposits in nature

Based on the calculations presented by scientists, 700 thousand tons of silver were mined from the bowels of the planet. Among all precious metals, this mineral is the most common in nature. Its highest concentration is found in clay shales.

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Silver is found in deposits:

  • native gold;
  • copper sulfides;
  • coal;
  • polymetals;
  • oil;
  • quartz.
Fifty silver minerals exist in nature, but nuggets and only a few substances containing silver ions are used in industrial production. The primary production of silver is no more than 20% of the total, it is mainly obtained along with gold, copper, and lead. Deposits of this precious metal are found all over the world.
Palladium – a metal named after a meteorite
Palladium – a metal named after a meteorite

The most significant mineral deposits have been found in Latin and North America, Australia, Russia, and China. Silver has been found in such European countries as Armenia, Poland, Germany, Romania, Spain.

Physical properties

Due to its remarkable properties, the mineral fell into the group of precious metals. It does not oxidize under the influence of air, does not deteriorate due to corrosion. The reflectivity of this chemical element was used to make silver mirrors. The first such thing appeared thousands of years ago and was affordable only for noble nobles.

The important characteristics of the metal include:

  • plasticity;
  • thermal conductivity;
  • softness.
Nickel – the metal of the future?
Nickel – the metal of the future?
The mineral easily changes shape during processing, melts at temperatures below 1000 degrees, and has excellent electrical conductivity. In its pure form, it is white and shiny.

Chemical properties

The mineral occupies position 47 in the periodic table. Under natural conditions, silver does not react with other substances, it resists aqua regia.

It is not affected by oxygen, silicon, but this precious metal dissolves in nitric acid, in mercury. The mineral is sensitive to sulfur. In the air, where compounds of this element are present, products made from it become covered with a dark coating. The formula of silver makes it possible to use it in many areas of human activity.

Using Silver

Since ancient times, the precious metal has served as a raw material for the manufacture of jewelry, weapons, coins, and utensils.

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The demand for the mineral has not decreased over the years, the scope of silver is constantly increasing, it is used in the production of:

  • batteries and contacts in electrical engineering;
  • chemical compounds;
  • pharmaceuticals;
  • instruments and equipment;
  • submarines and nuclear powered boats;
  • jewelry.
Platinum: history of metal discovery, areas of application, mining technologies
Platinum: history of metal discovery, areas of application, mining technologies

The metal is used in the food industry, for oil spill response. From the nanoparticles that are obtained from the mineral, sensors are released to detect harmful bacteria.

In medicine

Even in ancient times, people treated diseases with metal, disinfected wounds and water with it. At the beginning of the last century, a suspension was prepared from colloidal silver, which was prescribed for therapy:

  • colds;
  • conjunctivitis;
  • gonorrhea;
  • epilepsy.
A mask with embedded micronutrient particles is worn by healthcare workers and is great for fighting bacteria. Protargol continues to be used as an antiseptic. Silver ions purify water from infection. The substance is used in pediatric dentistry in the treatment of caries, the healing of pustular wounds.

Physiological effect of silver on the human body

Silver, which has the ability to kill microbes, is present in small doses in the tissues of plants and animals. Its ions are involved in metabolic processes.

Aluminum – winged metal
Aluminum – winged metal

Under the influence of this substance:

  1. The amount of nucleic acids increases.
  2. The work of the brain improves.
  3. It has a beneficial effect on the liver.

With a deficiency in the body of silver, the functioning of the glands is disrupted. Long-term use of large doses of the precious metal can lead to discoloration of the skin. Studies have shown that this does not affect the state of internal organs, and a person develops resistance to bacteria and viruses.

Metal mining

What are the current prices for silver, many investors are interested in, its annual production exceeds 20 thousand tons, and demand continues to grow. For a long time, the lead in the supply of the precious metal belonged to Latin America. The largest deposits of ores containing this trace element were found in Peru.

Picture: Björn Wylezich | Dreamstime

In recent years, among the countries leading in terms of reserves and production of silver, Poland unexpectedly took the second place, where polymetal deposits are concentrated near Luboml. Chile follows. Russia closes the top five. The largest deposits are located in Yakutia, Khabarovsk and Krasnoyarsk Territories.

Scientists suggest that silver mining in the world will last no more than 25 years, as reserves will quickly run out. The precious metal is increasingly being used in various fields, so the demand is not decreasing.

Oil is black gold
Oil is black gold
Ore that contains minerals is mined using underground or open pit mining. When a precious metal is found, explosives are placed in the openings of the mine. The fragments are crushed and silver is extracted using one of the production methods – cyanidation or amalgation. None of the methods makes it possible to obtain a substance without impurities, it is sent for subsequent purification.

Investing in silver

New technologies are being developed to increase silver mining in Russia and other countries. Prices for precious metals are rising due to increased demand for them in industrial production. To profitably invest in silver, you need to monitor the fluctuations in its value.

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On the Internet you can find online charts that are updated daily. Using this information, you can find out the price per gram or ounce of the precious metal. It is profitable to invest in bullion, which are sold in commercial banks.

Interesting facts about silver

  • In ancient Egypt, both men and women wore silver jewelry. Coins were minted from it, believing that the “moonstone” is more expensive than gold.
  • When they reached India, the soldiers of Alexander the Great began to complain of stomach pain, vomiting and nausea. They could not walk, fell and died. Many ordinary fighters died, and their leaders remained alive, although they all ate the same food. The reason for this phenomenon became known thousands of years later. The chiefs drank from a silver goblet, and ordinary soldiers used a pewter vessel.
  • To prevent the rain from charging, clouds are dispersed during the parade and other festive events. Not everyone knows how they do it, but everything is quite simple – silver iodide is sprayed in the sky.