Silver is a precious metal that is used in industry, investment, art and decor. It has unique electrical and thermal conductivity properties, is highly reflective of light, can endure extreme temperatures and is one-of-a-kind in its combination of strength, malleability and ductility.
In 2010, 487.4 million ounces of silver were used in industry, 167 million ounces were used in jewelry and 101.3 million ounces were used in coins and metals. Silver was first mined around 5,000 years ago in modern day Turkey. In 1,200 B.C., Greece's Laurium mines became the largest producer of silver in the world, as did Spain in 100 A.D. Europe's discovery of the New World in 1492 led to massive amounts of silver being mined in Bolivia, Peru and Mexico. The United States became a large silver producer in the 1800s with the Comstock Lode in Nevada.
As an element, silver's atomic number is 47 and its symbol is Ag. Its melting point is 961.93 degrees Celsius and its hardness is 3.25 mohs. It occurs in the metallic state and is most commonly associated with gold, copper, lead and zinc. Silver is soft, ductile and tarnishes. Over 60 minerals contain silver, including argentite, cerargyrite and many other sulfides and tellurides.