Silver is a mined substance. Silver is indigenous to countries in South America such as Chile, Mexico and Peru. It is also found in North America in Canada and across the US in Michigan and Arizona. The silver is usually found in ore, using large mining equipment called continuous mining machines.
The Sterling Silver Alloy
Sterling silver is actually made up of 92.5% mined silver with other metal, mostly copper. The reason that pure silver is combined or alloyed (melted down and combined) with copper is to give it the strength that it needs to hold up, especially when turned into items such as flatware (silverware).
Sterling silver is then marked with a universal stamp at a sterling manufacturing company for authentication purposes. It is from this product that it can be molded into whatever its final product will be, such as jewelry, flatware or dining pieces. Because sterling silver is an alloy, it can tarnish and needs to be cleaned with silver cleaner.