Facts about Silver

Chemical and Physical Properties

Chemical Symbol Ag (argentum)
Atomic Number 47
Chemical Series Transition metals
Atomic mass 107.87
Density 10.5
Melting point 961.93 °C
Boiling point 2212 °C
Hardness 3.25 (Mohs)
Malleability High
Ductility High
Electrical conductivity        Highest known
Thermal conductivity Highest known

Why Silver

  • Silver is a unique precious metal
  • Silver price has high correlation with gold price
  • Produced primarily as a by-product
  • Significant industrial applications
  • Silver is a store of value
  • Physical silver demand has risen significantly in the past several years reflecting strong investor interest
  • ETF demand continues at record levels
  • Silver is a versatile industrial metal
  • New uses are being developed at a staggering pace
  • Relied upon in advancement of developed and emerging economies
  • Increase in demand every year from 2001 – 2011 despite a rising silver price
  • Demand is relatively inelastic to the price of silver (low proportion of input cost)
  • With strengthening the global economy, GFMS shows a recovery in 2010 industrial demand

Traditional and New Silver Technologies

Silver’s traditional use categories include coins and medals, industrial applications, jewellery, silverware, and photography. The physical properties of silver include ductility, electrical conductivity, malleability, and reflectivity. The demand for silver in industrial applications continues to increase and includes use of silver in bandages for wound care, batteries, brazing and soldering, in catalytic converters in automobiles, in cell phone covers to reduce the spread of bacteria, electronics and circuit boards, electroplating, hardening bearings, inks, mirrors, solar cells, water purification, and wood treatment to resist mold. Silver was used for miniature antennas in Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs) that were used in casino chips, freeway toll transponders, gasoline speed purchase devices, passports, and on packages to keep track of inventory shipments. Mercury and silver, the main components of dental amalgam, are biocides, and their use in amalgam inhibits recurrent decay.

Silver was used as a replacement metal for platinum in catalytic converters in automobiles. Silver also was used in clothing to help regulate body heat and to control odour in shoes and sports and everyday clothing. The use of trace amounts of silver in bandages for wound care and minor skin infections is also increasing.

Below is a list of some significant categories of silver use.

  • Photography
  • Photovoltaic cells
  • Batteries
  • Bearings
  • Brazing and Soldering
  • Catalysts
  • Coins
  • Electrical
  • Electronics
  • Electroplating
  • Medical Applications
  • Jewellery and Silverware
  • Mirrors and Coatings
  • Solar Energy
  • Water Purification
  • Antibacterial purposes

History of Silver

Regarding silver, in the historical and cultural context, the reader is advised to visit the excellent page of the Silver Institute to find more facts: Silver Institute / History of Silver.


Silver was obtained as a primary product from mines in Mexico, Peru, and Australia, in descending order of production. Silver was also obtained as a byproduct from lead-zinc mines, copper mines, and gold mines, in descending order of production. The polymetallic ore deposits from which silver is recovered account for more than two-thirds of world resources of silver. Most recent silver discoveries have been associated with gold occurrences; however, copper and lead-zinc occurrences that contain byproduct silver will continue to account for a significant share of future reserves and resources.

Gold Silver Ratio

36 year gold silver ratio

The chart above: Gold silver ratio 1975 - 2013. (source: goldprice.org)


The chart above: Gold silver ratio. Data prior to 1968 is interpolated.


The Chart above: Gold silver price monthly ratio with silver price trend. Source: www.gold-eagle.com.

Silver Price

The Chart above: World market silver price from 1979 to 2008. Data from Silver Institute. Chart compiled by Sotkamo Silver Oy.

Global Supply

World silver mine production increased to 22,200 tons as a result of increased production at new and existing polymetallic mines. Global silver output increased owing to a full year’s production from the San Cristobal Mine in Bolivia, the Dolores and Parmarejo Mines in Mexico, and the Kupol property in Russia. Production from several mines in Argentina also increased. Silver production increased at lead-zinc mines, such as the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho, where production was at its highest level in 10 years. Production at the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska also increased owing to improved mining techniques, and production from the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah increased because of increased mill throughput. In July, the Rochester Mine in Nevada was preparing to mine new ore zones that would extend mine life by several years.