When was Silver Most in Demand
The Short Answer
Due to changes in medical science, technology and aesthetic preferences, Silver supply and demand has fluctuated a great deal through the centuries. Today, the demand for Silver is higher than ever because it is a crucial component of widely manufactured electronics including computers, mobile phones and solar panels.
The History of Silver
Silver is a naturally occurring element, just like hydrogen and oxygen, but is available in relatively minimal supply. Archaeologists believe Silver mining originated in the regions surrounding Asia Minor approximately 5,000 years ago. Ornaments, coins, sacred art and jewelry made from Silver have been discovered among the artifacts from ancient civilizations in the Middle East, China, South America and beyond. Since then, it has expanded economies and paid for the construction of several empires.
In 2007, archaeologists discovered the Beau Street Hoard at a construction site near Somerset, England. While evaluating the land where a new hotel was being built, a box of 22,000 antique Silver coins was discovered. Some of the coins dated back to 32 B.C.E., suggesting people have been stockpiling this Precious Metal for thousands of years.
Silver in Manufactured Goods
From the beginning, people agreed that Silver possessed fundamental value, worthy of trade for goods and services. The Silver mines in present-day Bolivia have had an incredible impact on the European economy for decades.
As early as the 16th century, people have used Silver to treat medical conditions. It has been used to relieve the symptoms of epilepsy, cholera and infected wounds. During the Middle Ages, it was used to forge surgical instruments and prostheses.
Household goods made from Silver have always been a status symbol, although modern manipulation of steel has made it easy to imitate visually. In early Colonial America, Silversmiths were an integral part of every community. While most homes used housewares made of less expensive metals, successful people in business and government would only stock their homes with trinkets, teapots and serving pieces made of real Silver. While the status symbols of today’s world, such as expensive cars and designer clothes, can depreciate over time, the Silver tableware of yesteryear could always be melted into bullion and sold, ensuring real long-term value.
In the mid-19th century, travelers from Spain taught Native Americans to make beads and jewelry, which became a significant means of trade for many tribes. Prized by everyone living in the Americas at the time, Silver supply and demand reached a point not seen previously.
The arrival of the 20th century, accompanied by World War I, ushered in a number of advancements in mining and metal work. Coins made of Silver transitioned into other other, cheaper metallic components. Just as Silver became impractical as a means of physical currency, demand increased in other sections of the marketplace.
Silver Supply and Demand
Today, people still desire Silver for ornamental reasons, but the primary need stems from the energy, electronics and healthcare industries. This demand is due to the physical composition of Silver, which includes highly effective conductivity and antibacterial properties.
Much the way the oil industry boomed as demand for cars skyrocketed, our modern fascination with electronics has increased the demand for Silver. Switches, keyboards, mobile phones, TVs and solar panels all use Silver as one of the key manufacturing components. In addition to electronics used for communications and entertainment, the medical sector has made significant advancements in the usage of Silver as a component or coating in surgical tools to control and prevent infection.
Some analysts stated in 2017, there was an imbalance of Silver supply and demand, with a shortfall in reserves to the tune of more than 100 million ounces. It is estimated that more than 1,500 tons of Silver are recycled from discarded electronics every year.