Silver (name from the Anglo-Saxon sioful, symbol from the Latin argentium) is considered a precious metal. It is found only to the extent of 0.05 parts per million in the earth (i.e., you have to dig up 20 million shovels full of dirt to get one shovel full of silver!). Knowledge of the metal is of ancient origins. Refining methods are mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures and ancient Egyptian writing. Silver was once considered more valuable than gold, probably because gold was easier to locate and refine at the time. Silver is ten times more abundant than gold.
Contributors and Attributions
Stephen R. Marsden
Binod Shrestha (University of Lorraine)