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July-August 2017

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Connoisseur's Choice: Wire Silver, Kongsberg, Norway & Wire Gold, Ground Hog Mine, Gilman, Colorado

Since the dawn of civilization, silver and gold have been treasured for their surpassing beauty and captivating luster. Some of the earliest known gold jewelry, dating from approximately 4500 BC, was found in a cemetery in Varna, Bulgaria, on the west coast of the Black Sea (Gimbutas 1977). Precious metals have been used for currency around the Mediterranean since at least the third millennium BC (Balmuth 1975), and the oldest preserved coins are hand-stamped staters from Anatolia (western Turkey, about 600 BC) made of electrum, a natural alloy of silver and gold (Wallace 1987). Throughout history and around the globe, gold and silver have been mined, refined, and fashioned into nearly every kind of object imaginable. But perhaps some of the most intriguing examples of these beloved metals are those whose stunning and graceful forms cannot be attributed to the hand of man. 


Calvin Anderson is a graduate student working on the structure, chemistry, and texture of wire silver for a master's of science degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Dr. John Rakovan, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor of mineralogy and geochemistry at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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