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Exceptional wire silver aggregate at Kongsberg
with secondary native silver crystals

Photo : Giant Crystal Project

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Native Silver - gediegen Silber - Argent - Plata

Europe : Norway : Exceptional silver wire aggregates in the Kongsberg mining district

Coordinates : 59°38'N , 9°35'E : Kongsberg, Buskerud, southern Norway

Native silver in the form of 'wire silver' is not exceedingly rare and in fact many ore deposits yield larger quantities of it. However, the length of the wires is generally relatively short and the famous Norwegian mining town of Kongsberg is certainly one of the most globally renowned localities of native wire silver.

Mining in Kongsberg started in 1623 when large aggregates of native silver were found near the surface. Unlike most other silver mining districts, the ore mineralogy of the Kongsberg mines is relatively simple : there are almost no sulphides, but native silver is practically the only silver bearing mineral. Large aggregates of massive silver and wire silver has been found during the whole mining period up to 1957, but there were some remarkable "Silberfälle" with each several tons of native silver in the Kongensgruve and the "Gottes Hülfe in der Noth" mine.

Though most of the mined silver was minted - a very easy way to transform crude native silver directly into currency - some of the most impressive silver specimen were preserved for posterity. They are now part of the Norsk Bergverksmuseum, the Norwegian Mining Museum, which is located in Kongsberg and can be visited by tourists. If you go there - dont miss a ride into the old silver mines at nearby Sagrenda - you possibly have to ask a warden to get permission to enter the "Silberkabinett" where most of the spectacular silver specimen are kept.

On closer examination, the often heavily curled wire silver aggregates with a maximum length well over one meter dont look particular crystal-like. More, they sometimes are coated with sparkling secondary silver crystals or grow from perfectly developed silver crystals. So what are these formations exactly ?

To be continued... (later, as it turned out, that nobody can tell me exactly...)


Kongsberg Native Wire Silver in a nutshell :

Mineralogy :

Long native wire silver aggregates in calcite matrix

Crystal Size :

Individual, curled silver wires reach > 1 m length

Geology & Origin :

Hydrothermal emplacement of silver rich fluids

Status :

Inactive mining district. Some of the most spectacular silver specimens are on display in the Norwegian Mine Museum at Kongsberg

Remarks :

Possibly the formation of the wire silver is a rather quick process, as indicated by synthetic wire silver, which virtually form "over night".


Other notable & famous native silver occurences :

- First of all : The silver sidewalk at Cobalt, Ontario, Canada. Probably the largest single mass of native silver ever found.

- The legendary "Silbertisch" (silver table) of Schneeberg, Saxony / Germany, which was found around 1477. It was such an enormous block of silver, that Duke Albrecht once used it as diner table, hence the name "Silbertisch".

- Superb crystals of silver up to 2 cm have been found repeatedly in the Keeweenaw peninsula, Michigan, USA, namely in the White Pine Mine, the Copper Falls mine and the Kearsarge Mine.

- Large accumulations of secondary native silver from a well developed cementation zone occured together with chlorargyrite at St. Joachimsthal / Jachymov in Bohemia, giving rise to the famous "Joachimsthaler" mint, which lent his name to the later Taler and Dollar.

- Excellent arborescent silver aggregates are known from Mexiko in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Zacatecas.

- Large nuggets of native silver up to several kg occur both in the Ural mountains as well as in the Sorskoye deposit, Siberia, both GUS.


Almost 1 m long wire silver from Kongsberg

Photo : Giant Crystal Project


Large mass of curled wire silver, note hand in background

Photo : Giant Crystal Project



Resources and relevant weblinks :

For more information on native silver please look at, Webmineral and the german Mineralienatlas.

The Norsk Bergwerksmuseum / Norwegian mining museum maintains an excelllent website - in Norwegian language where you can find lots of information about the mining and mineralogy of the Kongsberg region as well as other Norwegian areas.




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