Silver is one of the seven metals which were known to prehistoric humans, the others being gold, copper, tin, lead, iron and mercury. As it has been in use for so long the history of its discovery and early use are not known.
It's a more reactive metal than gold and is also harder to extract from its ores when mined. This meant that in antiquity supplies of silver were rarer and therefore more expensive until around 1500 BC when the Egyptians discovered new methods of refining it.
Today silver is considerably less valuable than gold, which is rarer in nature and more difficult to mine in bulk.
The only downside to sterling silver is that the added copper will cause it to tarnish, with the metal turning dark brown or black over time, especially in humid conditions. However, it's easy to clean and beneath the tarnish your sterling silver will still be in great condition: it won't rust or perish with normal use.
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver is usually hallmarked with "925".
Sterling silver jewellery is an excellent, high quality choice in most circumstances. The metal will not rust or perish, plus if you look after your jewellery it will look great well into the future. You should even be able to pass your silver jewellery on to future generations.