If you think your silver jewelry is just a pretty ornament, think again! Silver, as an element, is one of the most amazingly functional metals on earth. Sit back while we iron the cape and tights, and we’ll tell you all about Silver’s super powers!
Calling Dr. Silver
Silver is a great antibacterial agent. Tiny amounts of silver or silver salts can chemically affect the cell membranes of bacterial cells, killing them and creating a sterile environment. Bacteria cannot build up a resistance to silver, as they can to most antibiotics, which means that silver is one of the more dependable methods of sterilization.
Silver also works to purify water in much the same way. The presence of silver or silver salts will kill present bacteria and prevent the growth of more. Aristotle knew this centuries ago, and advised Alexander the Great to use silver containers to store boiled water… in order to prevent disease. In time, wealthy Greeks and Romans began to store their wine and oil in silver casks to prevent spoilage.
As a matter of fact, the common expression, “Born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” is a reference to health, not wealth. Because being fed with a silver spoon did, in fact, help children stay healthier, the old adage contains more than a grain of truth. This common observation is part of the reason why silverware came into fashion in the middle ages: people who ate with their hands got sick more often and more easily.
Today, silver’s antibacterial properties make it perfect for use in the medical field: burn treatments and wound dressings often incorporate silver. In fact, Curad, a well known bandage maker, is marketing a new line of bandages that use silver in the wound pad. Medical research has shown that silver can promote the healing and regeneration of bone and skin. Even prescription eyeglasses take advantage of the properties of silver to help improve our overall health!
Silver is truly multi-functional. In addition to its many health-related uses, silver is flexible, ductile, conducive, and reflective, all of which make it extremely valuable in a wide variety of technologies.
Silver has the highest degree of optical reflectivity. A silver mirror reflects 95% of the visible lightspectrum, which is why most mirrors are silver, particularly the mirror components in telescopes, microscopes and solar panels.
Additionally, silver is the best conductor of electricity. As a matter of fact, all other metals are compared against it when measuring conductivity. On a scale of 0 to 100, silver ranks 100, with second and third place going to copper at 97 and gold at 76.
Because of this property, virtually every cell phone, home appliance and modern automobile in existence incorporates silver in its electronic components. Silver is also utilized in batteries where dependability is key and weight restrictions are inviolable, such as those for portable surgical tools, hearing aids, pacemakers and space travel.
Silver’s contributions in these fields is only enhanced by its other qualities. Gold, at considerably higher expense, is the only element more ductile than silver. One ounce of silver can be drawn into 8,000 feet of thin wire. Silver is also more malleable than any element except gold. One grain of silver can be made into a sheet one hundred and fifty times thinner than a piece of paper. With super-powers like these, it is easy to see why silver is so valuable in the ever-shrinking world of electronics.
More obscure but interesting uses of silver include Cloud Seeding (spraying an aerosol silver iodide into cloudbanks to stimulate rainfall), coating quartz tiles to protect NASA spacecraft from solar radiation, and the development of “invisible silver” a transparent window coating that increases heating and cooling efficiency to record levels.
Kinda gives you a new respect for your well-worn and much-loved silver jewelry, hmmm?
Where, Oh, Where Has My Silver All Gone?
There are consequences, however. The use of silver in electronics is problematic, as the process of silver recovery after an item is junked is often prohibitively difficult and expensive. The end result is that the silver used in electronics is unrecoverable, and thus the finite reserve of silver is being diminished with each thrown-away appliance.
Additionally, the current economic environment is contributing to the diminishment of silver supply. Investors are holding on to precious metal assets until the economy stabilizes, effectively removing reserves of both gold and silver from the open market.
For perhaps 15 years, silver production has been unable to meet silver demand, and that trend is only becoming more and more pronounced. Although jewelry and silverware are still the top two uses for silver , other fields are vying for their spot on the list. As the demand for silver in medical, electronic, and technological fields continues to grow, the price of silver is forced upward.
A Sterling Investment
Silver is currently at an all-time high, hovering at $28.00/oz, up from just $5.00/oz 5 years ago! Just this year, silver prices have gone up more than $10.00 an ounce! With no end in sight, silver is expected to continue rising.
While these increases in price are inconvenient right now, the silver lining is that your beautiful Peter Stone sterling silver jewelry will continue to grow in value and will be worth even more in the future. We know our smart shoppers will take these factors into account and think of today’s expense as tomorrow’s investment!