Gold & Silver: Facts at a Glance

Silver vs Gold

People have been investing in gold and silver for thousands of years, and both of these precious metals have been found on every continent of the world. However, it’s their relative prices that the differences between the two types of bullion are at their starkest. Silver has never achieved more than one-tenth of the value of gold, and has often sold at much lower levels than that.

One reason for silver’s price weakness is that it is, in large part, recovered as a by-product of lead, copper and zinc mining, which means output usually exceeds what would have been mined on the basis of silver demand alone.

Gold production, by contrast, is famously meagre. According to the World Gold Council, the industry body, fewer than 175,000 tonnes have been mined since the dawn of civilisation, which means all of the gold ever mined would fit into a crate just 21 metres cubed.

Did you Know? Facts About Gold

  • Gold never rusts and is so pliable that it can be made into sewing thread.
  • It’s rarer to find a 1 oz. nugget than a five carat diamond
  • Gold is so rare that the world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history.
  • Nearly half of all gold mined today is turned into jewellery, which remains its largest single application.
  • 90% of the world’s gold has been mined since the 1849 California gold rush.
  • In Fort Knox, there are 4,600 tonnes of gold at the US Bullion Depositary, Kentucky.
  • The world’s sea-beds are a treasure trove; they’re estimated to hold up to 15,000 tonnes of gold.
  • Gold’s boiling point is 2,808 degrees centigrade, and its melting point is 1,064 degrees.
  • The largest gold bullion coin ever produced was unveiled in 2012 by the Perth Mint in Western Australia. Known as the “1 Tonne Gold Kangaroo coin” it had the face value of one million Australian dollars.
  • Best-known for its monetary and decorative properties, gold is increasingly used for industrial applications. In fact, 9% of world demand is for technical uses, which range from electronics to dentistry via nanotechnology and uses in the space industry.

Did you Know? Facts About Silver

  • Silver is the best conductor of both heat and electricity out of all the elements.
  • The US coins (dimes, quarters and half-dollars) contained 90% silver until 1965.
  • Silver is also the best reflector of light, which is why it’s often used to make mirrors.
  • British ‘silver’ coins used to contain real silver until 1947, after which it was replaced by cupronickel.
  • Silver and gold are formed in star explosions called supernovae. A September 2012 study, published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, found that smaller stars that explode produce silver, while larger stars produce gold.
  • Silver has antimicrobial properties. This means nanoparticles of silver can be woven into clothing to prevent bacteria from building up on deposits of sweat and oils, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
  • More patents have been issued in relation to silver than for all other metals combined.
  • The 30 pieces of silver for which Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus may have been shekels issued in the town of Tyre in the south of what is now Lebanon.
  • Silver has long been known for its industrial uses, not least its application in traditional film photography, hence ’the silver screen’. Today, it is found in a wide range of products, from mobile phones and batteries to solder, switches and medical applications.

Gold and silver have been linked for centuries, and despite the differences between the two best-known precious metals, and their evolving uses, that’s unlikely to change.

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