Compared to gold, silver is a precious metal that doesn’t get as much attention. However, silver has many unique properties that make it interesting. Like gold, the silver price has also been rising over the past few years. Brush up on your knowledge with these fun facts about silver:
Silver is money
The words “silver” and “money” are almost interchangeable in at least 14 languages. For example, in French, the word argent means both “money” and “silver.” So, if someone says in French, “Je n’ai pas d’argent,” it either means “I have no money” or “I have no silver,” depending on the context.
Silver was the first precious metal used as currency, so it makes sense why the word is synonymous with money in so many languages. One of the fun facts about silver: More than 4,000 years ago, silver ingots were used in trade in Ancient Greece. And during the peak of the Greek Athenian empire, the city’s silver tetradrachm achieved “international standard” status among Mediterranean states.
Where silver is mined
Mexico consistently leads the world in mined silver output most years, as it did in 2020. Despite declines due to the pandemic, Mexico by far outpaced Peru and China as the leading producer of silver last year. Chile and Australia were fourth and fifth on the 2020 list of the world’s biggest silver producers.
Another of the fun facts about silver: Mexico is home to Fresnillo, the largest silver company globally. Mexico has a long history of silver production. Silver mining in Mexico dates back about 500 years to the Spanish conquest of the Americas when worldwide silver production took off like never seen before in history. Between 1500 and 1800, a staggering 85% of globally mined silver came from Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico.
Silver’s most common form
Sterling silver is the silver color we’re most familiar with and the most common type of silver found in jewelry and the aptly-named silverware. Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually copper. Fine silver (99.9% silver) is soft, so the sterling silver alloy increases hardness and strength.
Due to the additional durability, sterling silver is used to make products like jewelry, silverware, plates, platters, coffee sets, and silver-plated items. Sterling silver is stamped to denote that it’s genuine. The stamps that are used are usually “925,” “92.5,” “ss,” or “.925.”
Fine silver has a higher purity rating than sterling, so fine silver pieces are more expensive. However, going with sterling silver is wise because it looks just as good and it’s more durable.
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