What is “Silver” in Latin? Word Etymology + Details & Facts for Investors

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Last Updated on: 18th May 2023, 05:05 pm

Are you wondering how silver got its name? The Latin word for silver may surprise you. This article discusses the name in Latin for silver, how silver got its Latin name, and why you should start investing in silver and other precious metals today.

What is “Silver” in Latin?

The Latin name for silver is argentum (or “Ag” on the periodic table of elements), and the name comes from the Latin root word meaning “white” or “shiny.” 

But why do silver and other elements on the periodic table have Latin names? This is because many of the elements you see on the periodic table were known by ancient chemists and have carried over their Latin names into modernity. Other elements represented by Latin roots include:

  • Gold (Au – Aurum)
  • Sodium (Na – Natrium)
  • Iron (Fe – Ferrum)
  • Copper (Cu – Cuprum)
  • Mercury (Hg – Hydrargyrum)

Silver is one of the world's most sought-after precious metals since it holds its value during economic downturns and is much cheaper than its close counterpart–gold. 

Silver also played a crucial role in the composition of American coins in the 1800s and 1900s. From 1837 to 1965, the American dime was composed of 90 percent silver before being phased out with copper in 1966. American quarters were also composed of 90 percent silver, and like dimes today, they are made of 91 percent copper and 9 percent nickel.

Silver as an Investment

Some financial experts believe that investing in precious metals isn't wise and that stocks, bonds, and real estate are the only investments worth your time and money. However, there are plenty of benefits for investors who choose to invest in silver and other precious metals, including:

  • Low risk. Silver and other precious metals aren't subject to cyber security threats and substantial market fluctuations. Silver routinely holds its value regardless of the current economic landscape and is one of the safest investments for those looking to diversify their investment portfolio.
  • Using silver as a hedge against inflation. We've seen runaway inflation in 2022 as the price of goods and services continues to rise at unprecedented rates. Inflation devalues paper money, which makes silver and precious metals an investment that may appreciate in times of economic turmoil. Silver can also help protect your assets from the effects of inflation and allow you to preserve your wealth in uncertain times.
  • Silver is in high demand. Silver can be found in solar panels, consumer electronics, cars, and many other products that people need on a daily basis. Since silver is in such high demand, those that invest in silver may see a substantial return on their money over a long period of time.
  • Precious metals can be liquid investments. Unlike real estate where you can't quickly turn your assets into cash, silver and other precious metals may be sold relatively quickly. Plenty of retailers will give you cash for gold and silver coins, jewelry, and other bullion.
  • Long-term price appreciation. Silver reached a peak in the early 1980s and bottomed out around 2001. However, silver has been increasing in value since its low and remains a stable asset today. You should expect the price of silver to rise over time if you hold onto your precious metals.

(Interested in investing in silver? Here's how you can fast-track your silver and precious metals investing experience within a tax-advantaged savings account.)

Silver vs. Gold

Gold investing shares many of the same benefits as silver. This may make you wonder whether you should invest in gold instead of silver or if it's a good idea to hold both precious metals. 

There are several factors you should consider when deciding to invest in silver or gold, including:

  • Price. Silver is much cheaper than gold per ounce, but that doesn't mean you should abandon the metal altogether. Silver can potentially return higher profits since you can buy more silver with the same amount of money as gold.
  • Gold is more liquid than silver. Gold investing has a much larger market than silver and it's understood better than any other precious metal. Selling silver may prove to be more difficult if you need to convert your holdings into cash quickly.
  • Storage. Storing your precious metals is a big part of ensuring your investment is protected from damage and theft. Since you can buy more silver with less money, your silver investment tends to take up much more space than gold. You'll also need a secure way to transport silver so the metal stays untarnished and holds its value over time.
  • Silver is more volatile. The price of silver tends to fluctuate more often than gold. This means that silver may have big intraday swings in value that can make investors nervous. Those who want to invest in silver should take a long-term approach and understand that it may take years to increase in value.
  • Gold is better for diversification. Fluctuations in the price of silver can be correlated to changes in the stock market. However, investing in gold is more beneficial for portfolio diversification since experts found that it's uncorrelated with the stock market's ebbs and flows.
  • Silver density is much lower than gold. Dense metals tend to weigh more since there is more of the metal per cubic centimeter. Silver is less dense than gold which tends to have one of the highest densities of precious metals.

What About Other Precious Metals?

You may know that gold and silver aren't the only precious metal investments available today. A host of other precious metals may provide additional diversification for investors.

The first is platinum. Platinum was the “gold” standard investment for many decades until real gold took the throne. It has numerous applications in jewelry, cars, dental clinics, and health care. Platinum is especially useful in the automotive industry, where it's one of the primary materials used to manufacture catalytic converters and other essential automotive parts. The price of platinum has fluctuated over time and remains a volatile investment that some investors use for diversification.

Rhodium is the most valuable precious metal and is also used in manufacturing catalytic converters. Other uses for rhodium include aiding chemists in creating nitric acid for controlled experiments and studies. Rhodium routinely trades above $10,000 per ounce which makes it over five times more valuable than the average price of gold.

The last lesser-known precious metal we'll discuss is iridium. This element has a high melting point and is a member of the platinum family. In fact, it primarily acts as a hardening agent for platinum. Other uses for iridium include electrical contacts, fountain pens, and compass bearings.

Ways to Invest in Silver and Gold

Regardless of what some experts may believe, investing in silver and gold can still be a great way to diversify your portfolio and hold tangible assets that you can convert into cash. You'll be able to hedge against generationally high inflation (8.3% for the month ending August 2022) and feel good about your financial position as an investor.

Below are some of the most common ways you can get started investing in silver and gold:

  • Bullion: Silver and gold are often sold as “bullion,” which is the term used to describe physical silver or gold in bars and coins. Bullion tends to be the most illiquid way to invest in precious metals and can be expensive to store and transport. However, many investors are attracted to bullion due to its coveted beauty and marketing tactics used by bullion companies.
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): This type of investment in silver and gold doesn't provide you with a physical asset like bullion. Instead, you're investing in a fund that contains precious metal commodities and fluctuates based on supply and demand. ETFs are typically liquid investments that can be sold quickly and converted into cash.
  • Stocks and mutual funds: Stocks and mutual funds are often the last choices of silver and gold investors. These stocks are based on precious metal mining and can be difficult to track and analyze.

The best way to invest in gold is by opening a gold IRA with one of our vetted companies with a proven track record of providing high-quality gold IRAs. View our list of the top-rated gold IRA companies of 2023 for a complete list of reputable gold IRAs you can use to reach your investing goals.

Mark T.
Mark T.

Mark has worked in the investment industry in Chicago and New York for over 15 years. After graduating from Chicago State University with a degree in Finance, he has occupied various management positions at reputable banks and financial institutions, including: Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia, Sterling Trust and Fidelity. His experience has led him to develop a keen understanding of the current economic landscape. For the past 10 years, Mark has been working as an independent investment advisor and has helped many Americans learn how to protect and grow their savings by properly diversifying their portfolios.

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