SPECTACULAR NATIVE SILVER - Rarer Than Gold in Specimen Form
Rock&Gem Magazine|January 2021
When it comes to naturally occurring precious metal specimens on Earth, finding native silver is not as easy as finding native gold.
BOB JONES
The general belief that gold is hard to find and rare is certainly true. Another common opinion is that gold is rarer than silver, which it is. But, that same thought does not apply to crystallized gold specimens that naturally occur and naturally occurring silver specimens. In this comparison, native silver is rarer.

Gold is certainly many times more costly per ounce than silver. Most of us can’t afford to eat with gold utensils, but every home has silverware as utensils and decorative objects. We wear all sorts of silver jewelry, from belt buckles to necklaces decorated with gems.

On one of my visits to the British Museum (now the Natural History Museum) in London, Museum Curator Pete Embrey suggested I visit the Silver Vault, about which I had never heard. When Carol and I visited the vault, we were astounded. We were allowed to visit the lower level of a building near Harrods. After passing a guard and security cameras, we walked into a long hall lined with vaulted rooms like a bank. Each room was filled with sterling silver objects such as candelabras, huge bowls, trays, tea serving sets, and all sorts of animal sculptures, including large swans and ducks done in sterling silver. These items had been the property of the wealthy of England back in the great days of England’s Empire. It was an amazing sight to see so much sterling silver. If you make it to London, make a point to go see all that wealth in sterling silver!

After I painted that picture, would you believe that native silver specimens are rarer than native gold specimens? You might think my age is showing. However, native gold specimens are indeed more common than native silver specimens. We have found gold in more or less pure form ever since humans picked up the first yellow nugget. How many times have you heard of someone picking up a shiny silver nugget? Even when native silver is found, it may not look much like its natural shiny white color, thanks to its tarnish. It is most likely black. You simply don’t find native silver scattered about, causing a silver rush to happen and prompt people from all over the world to flock to the destination to mine silver. That has happened countless times when native gold has been found, as in Alaska, California, Australia, South Africa, and who knows where else. There have been rushes to stake claims on silver deposits like the Comstock Lode of Nevada, but it started as a gold discovery even there. The Comstock Lode was the first and biggest silver discovery in America, but the miners were not mining native silver but silver compounds. Native silver was found, but the ore was argentiferous ore and silver compounds, not native silver.

SILVER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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