Silver chloride, AgC1, constitutes the mineral cerargyrite or horn silver; mixed with clay it is the butter-milk ore of the German miners.
The leading silver minerals are native silver; argentite or silver glance, Ag 2 S, usually containing small amounts of lead, copper and tin; dyscrasite or antimonial silver, Ag 2 Sb to Ag,3Sb, an isomorphous mixture of silver and antimony; proustite or light red silver ore, Ag 3 AsS 3; pyrargyrite or dark red silver ore, Ag 3 SbS 3; stephanite, Ag 5 SbS 4; miargyrite, AgSbS2; stromeyerite, CuAgS; polybasite, 9(Cu 2 S,Ag 2 S) (Sb 2 S 3, As 2 S 3); cerargyrite or horn silver, AgCI; bromite or bromargyrite, AgBr; embolite, Ag(C1,Br); iodite or iodargyrite, AgI.
The name cerargyrite is a Greek form (from itpas, horn, and a pyvpos, silver) of the older name hornsilver, which was used by K.
The chloro-bromide and bromide of silver were also included under this term until they were distinguished chemically in 1841 and 1842, and described under the names embolite and bromargyrite (or bromyrite) respectively; the chloride then came to be distinguished as chlorargyrite, though the name cerargyrite is often now applied to this alone.
All these are strikingly alike in appearance and general characters, differing essentially only in chemical composition, and it would seem better to reserve the name cerargyrite for the whole group, using the names chlorargyrite (AgC1), embolite (Ag(Cl, Bl)), bromargyrite (AgBr) and iodembolite (Ag(C1, Br, I)) for the different isomorphous members of the group. They are cubic in crystallization, with the cube and the octahedron as prominent forms, but crystals are small and usually indistinct; there is no cleavage.
In amalgamating without the use of chemicals, finely divided iron, worn from the shoes and dies in the stamp-mill and the pan, decomposes cerargyrite and argentite, and the liberated silver is taken up by the quicksilver; the process is hastened by adding salt.