Silver (native)

Silver is the metallic element with the atomic number 47. Its symbol is Ag, from the Latin argentum, derived from the Greek ὰργὀς (literally “shiny” or “white”), and ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European language root reconstructed as *h2erǵ-, “grey” or “shining”. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth’s crust in the pure, free elemental form (“native silver”), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.

Silver has long been valued as a precious metal. Silver metal is used in many premodern monetary systems in bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold: while it is more abundant than gold, it is much less abundant as a native metal. Its purity is typically measured on a per-mille basis; a 94%-pure alloy is described as “0.940 fine”. As one of the seven metals of antiquity, silver has had an enduring role in most human cultures.

Silver is used in numerous applications other than currency, such as solar panels, water filtration, jewellery, ornaments, high-value tableware and utensils (hence the term silverware), and as an investment medium (coins and bullion). Silver is used industrially in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings, and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Silver compounds are used in photographic film and X-rays. Dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides (oligodynamic effect), added to bandages and wound-dressings, catheters, and other medical instruments.

Crystallography: Isometric – Hexoctahedral
Crystal Habit: Crystals commonly cubic, octahedral, or dodecahedral, to 2 cm; in parallel groups; more commonly as elongated, wiry, arborescent, or reticulated forms. Massive, in scales, sheets, and as coatings.
Twinning: On [111] as simple pairs and repeated in aggregates radiating along [111] axes.


Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly, Jagged
Tenacity: Highly Malleable and Ductile
Hardness (Mohs): 2.5 – 3.0
Density: 10.1 – 11.1 (g/cm3(10.5 when pure)
Luminescence: None
Radioactivity: Not Radioactive
Other: Highly Conductive; Paramagnetic (weakly attracted to very strong magnetic fields)


Color: Silver White, Gray White, Gray; tarnishes Gray to Black; in polished section, brilliant Silver-White
Transparency: Opaque
Luster: Metallic
Refractive Index: R: (400) 83.4, (420) 84.5, (440) 86.0, (460) 87.7, (480) 89.1, (500) 90.5, (520) 91.8, (540) 93.0, (560) 93.5, (580) 93.7, (600) 94.0, (620) 94.4, (640) 94.7, (660) 95.2, (680) 95.6, (700) 96.0
Birefringence: 0.00 (Opaque)
Pleochroism: None