Silver was already used for decorations and as a means of payment before the beginning of our era. Excavations show that as early as 4000-3500 B.C. silver was separated from lead on islands in the Aegean Sea and Anatolia. Often silver was associated with the moon, the sea and various gods. In alchemy the symbol of a crescent moon was used for silver and alchemists called it Luna. The metal mercury was thought to be a kind of silver. In some languages this is still apparent from the name that mercury has such as quicksilver in English or mercury (with the meaning living silver) in somewhat older Dutch. Much later it turned out to be two completely different elements.

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The name silver leads to the Old High German silbar of the Germanic root *seluƀra-. It is suspected that this is a loan word that originates from Asia Minor or even further away. In Latin silver is called argentum, to which silver owes the symbol Ag.

Applications
Until well into the 20th century, silver and gold coins were the most important means of payment for mankind. There are at least fourteen languages in which the word silver also means money. A well-known example is the French argent. Nowadays we only see the use of silver in commemorative coins and other collector’s coins and tokens.

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Silver is a widely used material in applied art for the manufacture of reliefs, portrait busts, reliquaries, baptismal shells and other liturgical tableware, candlesticks, tobacco and snuff boxes, coffee pots, table silver and other ornaments and utensils.
Sterling silver (alloy with a very high silver content) is widely used by goldsmiths in the manufacture of jewellery. Silver bracelets, necklaces and earrings are known from antiquity. In the 18th century, silver shoe buckles were in vogue. A charm bracelet is almost always made of silver.
Silver is also used to silver objects made of inferior metals.

Silver leaf, consisting of thin slices of silver, is used for decoration, for example in painting (icons) or in the manufacture of gold leather. A special application of silver leaf is pig (or varakh), the popular use in India to decorate cakes with very thin layers of pure silver.
Silver is suitable for mirrors of very high quality because it has good light-reflecting properties. But usually aluminium is used because it is much cheaper.

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The good electrical conductivity of silver makes it a very suitable material in electrical and electronic products. In circuits, silver (or silver alloys) is used to connect components. For longer connections, silver is too expensive.
As a catalyst, silver is used in industry for the production of formaldehyde and ethylene oxide, for example.
In dentistry, silver is used in an alloy containing mercury (amalgam).

Because of its disinfecting properties, silver is nowadays also used to purify or keep clean drinking water. Especially for small amounts of water (up to 100 litres), silver (as silver nitrate) is easier to dose and apply than chlorine. Colloidal silver used to be used as an antibiotic in medicine, but is still used in alternative medicine.
In the laboratory, silver nitrate is often used as a reagent in chloride determinations, including for precipitation titrations. The insoluble silver chloride is formed.

Silver is used as a silver halide in photography.
Finely atomized silver iodide is used to make rain and to reduce fog around airports. Silver iodide is responsible for the aggregation of small water droplets that form the clouds.

Remarkable properties
Silver is an easy to work (bendable) metal that is slightly harder than gold and has a white sheen. Of all metals, silver has the best electrical conductivity and the lowest transition resistance, better than copper and gold. Gold, on the other hand, is used more often because it does not corrode. In addition, of all metals, silver conducts heat best and has the highest optical reflection (at least as far as visible light is concerned; ultraviolet light reflects badly). Silver halides are sensitive to light. The metal is stable in clean air and water, but when exposed to ozone or hydrogen sulphide it discolours. In the event that silver comes into contact with sulphur or its compounds, a black layer of silver sulphide forms.

Content
The lustre of silver makes it a sought-after metal for jewellery and silver objects such as cutlery, bowls, candlesticks and trays. These objects often have stamped quality marks such as: a year-letter mark, a master mark and a halt mark. The hallmark was issued after a test by a guarantee institution appointed by the government.

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