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Article: What is Silver?
Silver is a precious metal that has an interesting history.

Silver was first mined as early as 3000 BC. Until the discovery of the New World, silver was a rare metal, second only to gold in scarcity. Ancient Egyptians used it for ornamentation, as did the Greeks. The Romans found new sources for silver, and began minting coins of silver alloy as a means of exchange.

With the discovery of the New World by Columbus, vast reserves of silver became available for everyday objects like household ornaments and jewelry. Throughout the centuries, as the supplies of silver have increased, so has the demand.

Besides it uses for jewelry and home decoration, silver is also important in industries worldwide. It is used in the refining of oil, in the production of solar photovoltaic cells, in computer chip production, and as a transparent coating on double pane thermal windows, to name a few. Silver is the best conductor of electricity of all metals.

What makes silver so special? It is highly reflective, easy to work with as it is a soft metal with a low melting point, and it relatively inexpensive when compared to gold. Because it is so malleable, it must be mixed with other metals to make it strong enough for jewelry production. Pure silver bends easily, making less useful for everyday wear.

Sterling silver is a designation for an alloy of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. There is a frequent misconception that sterling silver will not tarnish. In fact, by its very nature, real silver oxidizes (reacts) in the presence of oxygen, sulfur, and certain acids.

Silver jewelry that is worn regularly will not usually tarnish as much as silver that is stored for a prolonged period. To avoid tarnishing, store silver jewelry in a plastic bag with anti-tarnishing paper. Avoid using rubber bands when storing silver because sulfur is a rubber by-product. Obviously this is not an option for jewelry on display in a store environment!

To clean tarnish, the easiest way is by using a dip available at Wal-Mart stores called "Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner." It is a non-ammonia based liquid that cleans tarnish instantly, but can be destructive to pearls or other organic gems. After dipping, rinse the piece and dry it thoroughly. You may want to follow with a light rubbing using a jewelry polish cloth to help the piece stay bright longer. We use only sterling silver for the products on our site.

Generally, each piece is hallmarked with a "925" stamp, but some pieces are too light to be stamped. Rest assured that everything we sell is guaranteed to be at least 92.5% silver.

(This article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally on indiasilver.com. We allow republication provided the piece is copied in its entirety with links and attribution.)

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