Silver

Silver (Ag) has a bright, metallic luster, and when untarnished, has a white color. It is rarely found in its native form. Silver can be found combined with a number of different elements such as sulfur, arsenic, antimony or chlorine to form a variety of minerals and ores, such as argentite, chlorargyrite, and galena. It is also found in very small amounts in gold, lead, zinc and copper ores. Silver is malleable which means it can be hammered into thin sheets. It is also ductile, meaning it can be drawn into wire.

Type

Element (Minerals/Ores of)

Mineral Classification

Native

Chemical Formula

Ag

Streak

silver white

Mohs Hardness

2.5-3

Crystal System

Isometric

Color

Silver

Luster

Metallic

Fracture

Jagged

Description

Silver (Ag) has a bright, metallic luster, and when untarnished, has a white color. It is rarely found in its native form. Silver can be found combined with a number of different elements such as sulfur, arsenic, antimony or chlorine to form a variety of minerals and ores, such as argentite, chlorargyrite, and galena. It is also found in very small amounts in gold, lead, zinc and copper ores. Silver is malleable which means it can be hammered into thin sheets. It is also ductile, meaning it can be drawn into wire.

Relation to Mining

Silver is found in lead, zinc, gold and copper ore deposits. The most important ore mineral of silver is argentite (Ag2S, silver sulfide). Silver is commonly extracted from ore by smelting or chemical leaching.

Uses

Silver has been used for thousands of years for jewelry and decorative items of all types. Likewise, it has been used for silverware. Of all the metals, untarnished silver is the best reflector of light. As a result, it was used in ancient times to make mirrors. Sterling silver is silver alloyed with another metal, usually copper. For such an alloy to be called “Sterling” it has to have 92.5% silver content. Silver bromide and silver nitrate are used in photography. It is used in various photographic materials and processes. It is also used in electrical products because it conducts electricity more efficiently than copper. It has been used by dentists in amalgam fillings.