Scientific Symbol: Ag

Silver is the most lustrous of the eight precious metals used for coinage. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity. Silver is used in coins, tableware, photography, radiology, mirrors, and jewelry.

Silver, as a precious metal, dates back to ancient times. It has been found in precious artifacts from the 4th millennium BC. Silver is mentioned in the book of Genesis. The New Testament recounts that religious leaders in Jerusalem gave Judas a bribe of thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus Christ. The value of silver was long considered second only to gold.

Like the Gold Rush, silver mining was a driving force in the settlement of western North America. The “Silver Rush” brought settlers into Colorado, Nevada, California and parts of British Columbia.


Silver is a relatively soft, malleable, and easily damaged metal. Like gold, it is combined with other alloys to produce a more durable product. Sterling Silver is made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. Sterling silver is the standard for beautiful high-quality silver jewelry. The addition of the copper improves Silver’s hardness and durability without affecting its color. Sterling silver is most often chosen for jewelry and household accessories because of its combination of beauty and durability.Most high quality silver items are stamped. This mark designates the precious metal content of the jewelry. Under United States federal law silver must have a maker’s mark to designate its quality.

Acceptable quality marks for sterling silver include:

  1. Sterling
  2. Sterling Silver
  3. Ster
  4. 925


Silver will last a lifetime. Store your silver in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in a jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water. To clean your silver, use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish. Wearing your silver jewelry often is the best way to prevent tarnish.


The price of silver items is affected not only by the commodities market, but also by the labor involved in making it, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.