Used for money, jewelry, tableware and making mirrors, the lustrous white metal silver is also a common feature of holiday decorations.
“Silver and gold, silver and gold…” The combination of the two metals is much more than a line in a song about sparkly decorations. Many gold alloys contain silver as one of their components since the presence of the silver imparts a paler color and greater hardness than the gold alone. Yellow gold, rose gold, and pink gold each contain up to 5 percent silver. For silver jewelry, sterling silver consisting of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper is the usual standard since this combination results in a lower melting point and stronger material than either pure metal alone. The presence of the copper makes the material a bit more prone to tarnish; pure silver, known as 999 fineness is quite tarnish resistant, but it is too soft to be a practical material for most uses.
In addition to its luster, silver has historically found numerous uses as it is easy to fabricate. Unlike iron, which requires blacksmiths to work the metal at red hot temperatures, silver is malleable enough to be worked cold with hammers, mallets, and wooden forms, although the metal is often annealed by gently heating it just short of the melting point to make it easier to shape and less brittle in the final product.
One of silver’s oldest uses was for coins since gold was too expensive to be used for everyday transactions. The Roman Empire’s reliable access to silver ore prompted silver coins to be instated as part of the regular monetary system. Silver was also used extensively for tableware such as bowls, vases, and cutlery, which indicates the origin of the common name silverware. Modern uses also include electronics, catalysis of chemical ractions, medical applications, and solar energy production.
Although silver bells may be sung about more than played, silver is often used to make high quality musical instruments such as flutes and trumpets as the metal imparts a crystalline sound as well as a light-catching, eye-catching appeal.
More information about silver can be found at http://www.goldandsilvermines.com/abtsilver.htm