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How Silver Uses Affect the Silver Price Today

Published on 12/07/2021 by APMEX

Stacks of Silver coins, including Silver Canadian Maple Leaf and Silver American Eagle coins.

It is important to remember that there are numerous uses for Silver and how supply and demand in different sectors may impact the Silver price today. This history of appreciating Silver and its many uses has resulted in how we value its price on the Silver prices today chart today.

Silver is estimated to have been discovered and first mined around 3,000 B.C. in Greece and Turkey. Ancient Silver mines have also been found in Spain, Italy, China, Korea, Japan, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico.

Researchers have even discovered that in the regions of Greece and Turkey people were able to adapt the Chaldean method—cupellation—that refined the Silver. It is safe to say that Silver in all its uses and forms has been revered—and even fought over—for thousands of years, making it a staple in many economies and societies.


Silver Use Throughout History

One of the first five metals humans discovered to be useful, Silver was refined from galena and other lead-containing ores, showing humans were good at developing uses for natural resources even in early civilization.

Latin and South American people, like the Andeans, mined for Silver and developed ways to smelt the metal without the use of bellows. The Andeans became talented metalworkers, specializing in silver-plating and making alloys mixed with Silver, Gold, Copper and sometimes Platinum.

Silver was so highly regarded for its economic and cultural value. The Incans in Peru thought the white metal was the moon’s tears here on earth. The bountiful supply of Silver in what is now Colombia and Ecuador resulted in many beautiful Silver sculptures and other artwork.

The Phoenicians popularized the use of Silver as currency throughout their trading and travel in the Mediterranean. An expert would weigh a Silver bar and then stamp it to certify that the weight was correct. A bar was guaranteed to be worth as much as 227 Tin shekels or 300 Copper shekels. This economy was also subject to the ebbs and flows of supply and demand, in fact, when there was an overabundance of Silver in the Near East, the value of Silver plummeted in the 6th century BCE.

In China Silver was also abundant in its southern regions and from the 8th century BCE became the staple currency for trade, eventually overtaking the value of silk as a trade currency. Japan didn’t start mining its Silver until the 16th century BCE and used it to pay Portuguese traders that would visit them. However, the metal was starting to quickly deplete on the island so by 1668 BCE they had to limit the amount used in currency and export.

Silver was commonly used in various home goods, décor, clothing, armor and weapons throughout the world. Silverware, containers, dishes, jewelry, masks and small sculptures were crafted from beautiful metal. Silver was also spiritually revered and was typically found in instruments and objects used during religious ceremonies. Additionally, Silver thread was used in clothing for the wealthy class and nobility, as well as an inlay material in armor and weapons.

The metal is still used in many of these forms, which is why Silver price today is dependent on how other industries are doing.

Silver Use in Coinage

Since Silver was discovered—around 3,000 B.C.—it has been used in coinage, notably by economies surrounding the Mediterranean like Greece and Lydia. Greek coins were either stater or drachm denomination and the different city-states had various standards to define the weight and worth of a Silver coin.

Alexander the Great’s conquering of the Persian empire and its consequent reorganizing of city-states into kingdoms resulted in kings minting their own coinage. Greek nobility could mint coinage used in places as far away as Egypt and central Asia.

The Romans created their own drachm coinage but switched to the Silver denarius as their main coin. As empires rose and fell their influence spread the use of Silver currency around Europe, Africa and Asia and the currency itself evolved depending on who was in power.

Silver became embedded in coinage used in Asia Minor, European countries, India, Latin and South America, the United States and more in the early modern period and have evolved to the Silver coinage used today.

Since then, the value of an ounce of Silver has increased and more discovered uses have driven up Silver prices today and other Silver investments. Silver sees a number of uses, including industrial applications, like photovoltaics, the process of converting solar energy into direct current energy, jewelry creation, medicinal uses and of course minting Silver products like Canadian Maple Leaf coins and Silver bars.

Industrial Silver Metal

Industrial uses push demand for Silver and thus can increase Silver price today range from electronics to electrical to energy. Silver is versatile because it is malleable enough to make into sheets and strong enough to be stretched into a wire. Silver can also be ground into powder, alloyed with other metals and made into paste, flakes or salts.

Silver prices today can be impacted when there is a drastic increase in demand for industrial forms of the metal.

The Industries that Impact Silver Prices Today

After industrial uses, Silver is most used in minting medals and coins, like the Silver American Eagles, Austrian Silver Philharmonics and Canadian Howling Wolves. Since, like Gold, Silver does not corrode, the metal has been a staple of currencies in cultures around the world. As the prices of Silver and Gold have increased, the use of the two in U.S. currency waned.

Today, old U.S. Silver coins minted before 1965 are worth more than their face value when in circulation. As a result, you can buy what is called junk Silver, which is Silver currency that has no numismatic or collector Silver value.

Junk Silver prices today are often seen as a good way to invest in Precious Metals. When determining what the Silver price today is, it helps to examine how the metal’s other uses also help increase demand.

Jewelry is one of the most visible uses of Silver – at one time or another, most people have worn or bought Silver jewelry, increasing demand for raw Silver and pushing the Silver price today higher. Because Silver is soft, it must be alloyed with a base metal like Copper to make sterling Silver, which is 92.5% Silver and 7.5% Copper.

Since the Silver price per ounce is lower than Gold prices, Silver is often the prime choice for jewelry. Silver is also used in utensils, dishes, plates, and décor.

Additionally, Silver has been found to have antibacterial benefits in certain forms. It is used in wound dressing, as a coating on medical instruments and in antibacterial creams. While now it is not always the recommended treatment for injuries and infections, it has been approved by the U.S. FDA to treat 2nd and 3rd-degree burns and to be used in some wound dressing.

However, using too many products that contain Silver can have detrimental effects to your health since the human body has no biological use for the mineral. Always consult with a doctor before trying a new treatment or medication.

Silver's properties also make it ideal for photography, from family photos to films to X-rays. Of course, as personal photography has gone digital, the demand for Silver has decreased, but Silver is still used for X-rays and other non-personal uses. The use in photography impacts Silver prices today.

Silver price today can be impacted by a variety of factors—as is the case with all Precious Metals—but the metal’s many uses worldwide have a significant impact on its price per ounce. Silver prices today fluctuate depending on political events and natural disasters, as seen with the Covid-19 pandemic. It helps to understand that Silver has always had many uses, so that when it comes time to invest you are more familiar with what industry might be driving Silver price today up or down.

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