Monday, July 4, 2011
Industrial Silver Demand
Coinage and medals
These categories represent more than ninety-five percent of the demand for silver. In 2010, for example, 4876.4 million ounces were used in industry. 167 million ounces in the jewelry market, just over 50 million ounces in the silverware market and over 101 million ounces for coinage and medals. The paltry balance of around 106 million ounces was used in the investment market. Amazing then that the five percent used in the investment market is that which seems to drive the daily price of silver
Silver has many unique properties including electrical conductivity, sensitivity to and high reflectance of light, both highly values in the industrial world. The ability to endure extreme temperature ranges as well as its strength, malleability and ductility, making it easy to work for silverware as well as coinage. Areas where you will find silver uniformly used is in:
Silverware and Table Settings
Brazing and Soldering
And recently in:
Mirrors & Coatings
Next to gold and often called the poor mans gold, silver is well known as a currency medium. Even as far back as 700 BC the Lydians were using silver as money and it was not much later that it was refined and coined into the silver money we now know so well. These days silver bullion is also known by the ISO Currency designation XAG and silver is, these days, measured in troy ounces.
Of course silver has been used in jewelry and silverware for as long as man can remember. Sterling silver, made with 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper to add durability and strength is very popular in the UK. In the US silver must be at least 90 percent silver to be marked as such (hence the 900 stamp often seen on American silver). Sterling silver is harder than pure silver with a lower melting point of 893 degrees Celsius. Britannia silver, another type again, contains 95.8 percent silver, a little more than sterling and used mainly to manufacture silver tableware and wrought plate.
Sterling silver tends to look shiner as it often has a very think coating of .999 silver to give it that finished look. This is called Flashing. Sometimes rhodium is used instead of silver for this flashing.
Silver used to be used in dentistry where it would be mixed with mercury, tin and other metals but this is falling out of favor with the issues of mercury and tin poisoning the body.
Despite the advent of digital photography silver is still used in the photographic industry. This is in the form of silver nitrate and silver halides although its use has dropped by around 50 percent over the past few years.
Silver is still heavily used in the electronics industry due to its amazing conductivity properties, especially in High Frequency connectors. Silver is used in circuit boards, RFID Antennas, audio connector cables, speaker wires, power cables, silver oxide batteries, silver cadmium batters and much more.
Of course mirrors of high quality, particularly astronomical mirrors for cosmology use silver as the reflecting material. Domestic mirrors usually use aluminium due to cost.
Silver is used in many other diverse areas including musical instruments, acting as a catalyst in oxidation reactions and many other areas.
Hippocrates, the "father of medicine", wrote that silver had beneficial healing and anti-disease properties and silver has played an important role in the medical arena.
Both silver ions and compounds have a toxic effect on some bacteria, viruses, algae and fungi, but without the high toxicity to humans normally associated with other metals. Silvers germicidal effects kill many microbial organisms in vitro.
So the industrial silver demand is high and forms the biggest percentage of silver use by man. As time progresses, with the increasing difficulty locating more silver deposits and the expanding industrial demand the value of silver is bound to continue its rise, regardless of any possible manipulation of the price, as it is the industrial demand that, in the final analysis, will drive the price of silver.