Written by Kathleen Gagne
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While the actual name of silver comes from an Anglo-Saxon root word, "siolfur," the chemical symbol for the precious metal came from a Latin word, "argentum." Treasured for its incredible beauty since ancient times, silver was called Luna (the goddess of the moon) by alchemists. Most of the world's silver is mined in the US, Australia, Mexico, Peru, and Canada. Silver ore is most often found in combination with other elements, and silver has been mined and treasured longer than any of the other precious metals.

In commercial use, silver conducts heat and electricity better than any other metal. But its greatest value has been found in its lustrous beauty. Silver was used in jewelry and other ornaments over 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. It was actively mined in Asia Minor by 2,500 BC. Today, silver is crafted into coins, jewelry, utensils, and more. The very word for utensils, in fact, is silverware.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. It is the primary silver used for jewelry, flatware, giftwear, and holloware. Silver holloware consists of tableware that is designed to function as containers or decoration, including candlesticks and trays. Sterling silver giftware includes picture frames and key rings.

Unlike pure gold, sterling silver will tarnish when exposed to air and moisture. This is primarily because of the small amount of copper in the sterling silver alloy. While pure silver tarnishes very little, it is too soft for jewelry and most other uses, and the copper in sterling silver also adds to its durability.

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