Welcome to the World of Silver
We humans have had an infatuation with silver for more than five millennia. Silver has given birth to empires. It provided the means to lift ancient trade out of the barter system. Since ancient times, silver demand has encompassed art, currency, industry, investment, and even medicine.
For well over 5,000 years, silver has served the world for an enormous number of purposes.
Silver was first mined around 3,000 BCE in Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.
Inquisitive experimenters in Anatolia heated the ore in a cupel. A cupel is a shallow porous container in which gold and silver can be refined by melting with a blast of hot air, which oxidizes lead and other base metals. The process, called cupellation, is still used today.
Silver had great value and aesthetic appeal in ancient cultures, where it was used to make jewellery, tableware, figurines, and ritual objects.
Rough-cut pieces were called hacksilver and were used in trade as a predecessor of silver currency.
The Mesopotamian shekel – the first known form of currency – emerged about 5,000 years ago. The shekel was primarily silver. The earliest known mints date to 650 and 600 B.C. in Asia Minor, where the elites of Lydia and Ionia, Iron Age kingdoms of western Asia Minor, used stamped silver and gold coins to pay armies.
The steadily increasing uses of silver did create supply problems. However, the dwindling supply sources of silver changed dramatically when Christopher Columbus, looking for new routes to sail to Asia, discovered the New World.
Bolivia, Peru and Mexico went on to produce over 85 percent of world silver production. These increases were spurred by discoveries in Australia, Central America, Europe, Canada, the United States, Africa, Mexico, Chile, Japan, and elsewhere.
Advances in mining techniques enhanced the ability to separate silver from other ores and made it possible to handle larger volumes of material.
These new methods were critical to the increased production volume, as many of the high-grade ores worldwide had been primarily used up by the end of the 19th century.
Today, silver maintains its ranking as an exceptional metal.
Silver continues to evolve as a significant component of these changes as the world evolves in a wide variety of new directions.
Last Updated on: 2023-11-20