5 Amazing Things You Probably Didn't Know About Silver

Here's a few facts you may not know about that wonderfully shiny metal that's used to make so much of our jewellery!

1. Silver is the most efficient conductor of heat out of all the metals which is why the best tea pots are made from sterling silver.  The downside is never wear silver jewellery into a sauna – it gets hot really quickly and can burn the skin.        

2. In the UK all silver items weighing over 7.78 grams must have a British hallmark to be described as 'sterling silver'.  Why 7.78grams?  It’s the equivalent weight of 5 old pennies and was introduced back in the 1300's by Edward 1st.

3. Silver has been used to prevent the infection of injuries for hundreds of years. Silver doesn't kill microbes in its metallic form, in which it is unreactive. The metal works against bacteria only in ion form as it must lose an electron to become positively charged. The positively charged silver ion interferes with bacterial cell walls and disrupts other microbial processes. That's why silver is now used in so many medical dressings and you can now even buy plasters with a special silver coating.

The largest silver mine in the world is in Penasquito, located in the north-eastern part of the State of Zacatecas, Mexico.  It is the world's biggest silver mine by reserve. The proven and probable silver reserves of the mine as of December 2012 stood at 911.8 million ounces. That's a lot of earrings! 

5. The first evidence of silver mining dates back to 3000 BC in Turkey and Greece.  Ancient people even figured out how to refine silver. They heated the silver ore and blew air over it, a process called cupellation. Silver doesn't react to the air, but the base metals such as lead and copper oxidize and separate from the precious metal

Here's an interesting video showing some of the workings of a modern silver mine 

If you have any questions about silver or jewellery you can contact us via our jewellery advice page.  If there's an amazing fact about silver you think we've missed, leave us a comment below and we might add it!

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