Silver has played an integral part in global culture for centuries but how much do we really know about the origins and history of this precious metal?
Today Sterling Silver is used in a wide variety of everyday objects and is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance thanks to a societal shift towards using recyclable materials and non-single serve, plastic free objects.
Often associated with luxury gifts, keepsakes and heirlooms, silverware is a popular choice for Wedding gifts, Anniversary gifts and of course, Baby shower and Christening gifts.
Just what makes Silver such a coveted treasure though?
The Most Reflective Metal of All
Known in Anglo-Saxon times as Seolfor, Silver has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of all metals as well as being the most reflective too, hence why it polishes up to such a beautiful and high gloss finish. Resplendent in its shiny finish, Silver instantly adding a touch of luxury, style and finesse to everyday treasures such as baby cups and baby cutlery. Due to that polished finish, it has also been traditionally used in the manufacture of mirrors and telescopes.
Even the Chemical Symbol Represents the reflective nature of this metal. Ag, as it’s referred to on the periodic table, is derived from the Latin for Argentum, which comes from the Sanskrit word Argunas, which actually means shiny.
The Origins of the Word Silver
The word Silver additionally has its origins in the Germanic language and is thought to have been based on the colour of the river Lycia, running through modern day Turkey.
While there is no definitive answer as to when man’s first relationship with Silver was established, archaeologists have discovered the remnants of silver smelting operations dating back as far as 4000 BC.
Up until 1400 AD, there were only seven metals, collectively referred to as “Seven Metals of Antiquity” known to man. One of those was, in fact, Silver with the remaining six being Gold, Copper, Iron, Lead and Mercury.
Silver Rarely Occurs in a Pure State
Silver differentiates from Gold and Copper which can both be mined in nugget form in that it very rarely occurs in a pure, natural metallic state. Instead, it needs to be first discovered and then extracted from ores. Even today, Silver primarily exists as a by-product of smelting other metals, notably Lead.
Ever Wondered Where the Term “Born with a Silver Spoon” Originated From?
Silver is not at all toxic to humans. Quite the contrary. Silver just so happens to be naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial making it wholly appropriate for use as drinking vessels and flatware for dining as well as for surgical tools and precision instruments used in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
The process of testing the purity of Silver, known as Cupellation, dates back to pre-Roman times and even today, Silver is Hallmarked as a sign of its authenticity. It’s germicidal, meaning that it effectively kills bacteria and other lower organisms. This makes it an ideal material for use in the production and design of Silver flatware and metal cutlery.
Final Fun Fact about Silver!
Want your wine to last longer? Drop a silver coin in it! Sailors in the 19th Century discovered that if they placed silver coins into barrels of water and wine they were transporting, as well as other perishable commodities, the germicidal properties from the Silver helped to keep these commodities free from bacterial contamination. So there you have it. Next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, be sure to drink it from a silver goblet to really savour that flavour.
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