Silver is soft white metal that is one of the earliest metals known to humans and has been thought of as a precious metal since ancient times. It occurs both naturally in its pure form (known as native silver) and in ores along with less rare metals, including lead, copper and zinc from which it is extracted through mining.
Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Canada, Poland and the USA are counted among the world’s largest silver producers. The material has a huge number of uses: from jewellery, tableware and utensils, to coins and bullion. Due to its property of high electrical conductivity it is also used in the electronics and semiconductor industries.
Silver plating refers to the process of covering a conductive surface with silver to prevent it from corrosion while adding a lustrous shine. Silver plate has been used since the eighteenth century in the production of household items such as candlesticks and cutlery.
Properties and qualities
Silver is naturally highly lustrous and the whitest element. It has the the highest electrical conductivity of any element and highest thermal conductivity of any metal. It is strong, malleable, resistant to corrosion and unaffected by moisture.
Silver and silver plated items like tableware should be washed in warm water – never hot. Dilute washing up liquid in the water before adding silver plated items to avoid dark spots emerging from concentrated dish detergent. Avoid using rubber gloves when washing silver, as rubber corrodes silver. Silver items are not suitable for the dishwasher. If there is a build up of tarnish, silver can be polished with silver polish and a cellulose sponge or soft cloth. For best results, refer to the care instructions on your silver product.