Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag. Silver has long been valued as a precious metal, and it is used as an investment, to make ornaments, jewelry, high-value tableware, utensils (hence the term silverware), and currency coins. Today, silver metal is also used in electrical contacts and conductors, in mirrors and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Its compounds are used in photographic film, and dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides. While many medical antimicrobial uses of silver have been supplanted by antibiotics, further research into clinical potential continues.
Silver is a very ductile, malleable (slightly harder than gold), monovalent coinage metal, with a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high degree of polish. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, even higher than copper, but its greater cost has prevented it from being widely used in place of copper for electrical purposes. (Despite this, 13,540 tons were used in the electromagnets used for enriching uranium during World War II, mainly because of the wartime shortage of copper). An exception to this is in radio-frequency engineering, particularly at VHF and higher frequencies, where silver plating to improve electrical conductivity of parts, including wires, is widely employed.
Silver coins and bullion are used for investing. Mints sell a wide variety of silver products for investors and collectors. Various institutions provide safe storage for large physical silver investments, and various types of silver investments can be made on the stock markets, including mining stocks. Silver bullion bars come in a wide range of ounces, provided by various mints and mines around the world. Silver coins and bullion bars are generally 99.9% pure.