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Gold and Silver: More than just beautiful metals

 

Man has known and made use of gold for over 6000 years. Gold was found long ago as nuggets in Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley and was probably the first metal to be worked by craftsmen. Gold was discovered to be indestructible and versatile as well as beautiful. For example, less than announce of gold bullion could be hammered into massive sheets of decorative trim for ornate breast plates.

Today, because of its tensile strength and electrical conductive properties, gold is relied on by the aerospace industry for a wide range of used-from a thin spray on the exhaust of supersonic air transports to the lifelines of astronauts afloat in space.

Gold’s scarcity and durability were what made it medium of exchange perhaps as long ago as 4300 BC. Herodotus recounts that the Lydians were the first people to make use of bean-shaped gold tokens around the time of has spread the use of gold coins of roughly equal shapes and sizes as a medium of exchange throughout the known world.

Today, jewellery and artwork account for around 70% of gold- consumption, electronics, space and defense from 11-15%, dentistry 6%, and coins and medallions about  9%.

Silver has been used for centuries in coins, ornaments and jewellery. Today the use of silver for these purposes accounts for less than 10% of total annual world consumption, which has ranged from 375 million to nearly 500 million troy ounces in recent years. Silver has long been sought after for its proven resistance to heat and rust and its excellent electrical properties.

During the last century, for example, rabid advances in the art of photography were only made possible through the introduction of specially coated plates of energized silver particles. The electrical, electronic and photographic uses of silver account for over half of the consumption, industrial uses of silver now account for more than 99% of U.S. Silver consumption, a large share of which is used by the photographic industry. The electrical and electronic industries are other major consumers of silver.

Unequalled as a thermal and electrical conductor with high heat-resistance, silver electrical contacts can be found in practically every on-off switch and electrical appliance. Large quantities of silver are being used in solder and brazing alloys utilized in air-conditioning, refrigeration and aircraft industries.

The dental and medical professions are also important end-users of silver.