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Next to gold, silver is a precious metal that is commonly employed for the creation of jewelry. Unlike gold however, silver serves sundry more purposes aside from being strictly ornamental, with many applications in general industry. Silver is used in the creation of film, mirrors, dental fillings, electrical wire, and many other products. Due to its precious nature and constantly appreciating price, silver that is used for industrial or artisanal purposes have to undergo recycling, or they are otherwise lost.
There are generally two types of silver recycling – small scale silver recycling and large scale ones. The former is usually performed by artisan silversmiths as a means to retrieve precious silver from broken articles of jewelry and useless accessories. Usually employing time-tested old-fashioned methods of silver refining (with some exceptions that prefer more modern methods), it usually yields only very minute amounts of recycled and re-refined silver for use in creating jewelry. Silver recycling of this scale is usually performed as a specific service for certain individuals who wish to recycle any scrap silver that they may possess so as to have it remade into other accessories, or to have it formed into ingots or bullion and stored as a monetary investment.
Large scale silver recycling may also be used as a means to obtain pure silver for the creation of bullion, or for the production of raw materials for the creation of jewelry and other artistic products, however, since large scale silver recycling usually obtains high amounts of silver, it is usually performed for the re-attainment of silver that has been largely incorporated into items used for general industry, with the purpose of recycling the silver only so that it can be reused in the creation of more industrial products without the need to invest in more raw silver. This cyclical pattern of use, recycle, and reuse is the reason why many technological marvels of today can contain trace to significant amounts of silver without it being too expensive. This is also the reason why industrial magnates and companies have not mined the world dry of its silver deposits.
The process of silver recycling commonly in use today varies depending on the companies that recycle the silver. Old-fashioned methods of recycling silver are still employed, such as melting the silver and adding chemical compounds such as mercury, ash, salt, or strong acids to help dissolve the metals mixed with the silver and enable the recyclers to obtain pure silver. A more easy method which gives more yields involves the use of electric current which separates silver compounds from the molten slurry of other metals. The pure silver is then graded, melted, and reused. Just like refining and recycling gold, the process of recycling silver usually yields a product of varying purities, with the finest silver available today usually reserved for the production of silver bullion that is used for investment purposes. Silver that is only partly pure (95% below) is often used industrially, or for the creation of objets d’art and jewelry. The high demand for silver products both for general and personal use has made silver recycling a large and burgeoning industry that caters to large companies and individuals alike.
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Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for coinandbullionpages.com © coinandbullionpages.com 2012
Note - this site provides general information about gold, silver, coins and bullion. None of the contents of this web site should be seen as financial or investment advice.