Silver and Gold Friendships

As a kid at camp I was reminded about the importance of friendships—new and old—through a song that went, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

The idea behind the song is that while making new friends is significant, your most enduring friendships are to be as valued as gold.

Newer friendships can refresh your life and add a new perspective.

New friends—your silver friends— are like the shiny new coin that hasn’t yet lost its lustre.

Everything is possible in a new relationship. You share new ideas and interests, and are maybe encouraged to explore new places. Your silver friends are funny and interesting, and their stories are the most entertaining you’ve ever heard, because let’s face it, you simply haven’t heard them before.

Gold friendships, in contrast, are often recognizable for the bit of patina they have on them.

Gold friends bear witness to the most significant moments of your life. They share your story in ways that newer friends cannot because they’ve walked alongside you.  

Recently, I’ve had the good fortune to reconnect with several long-time friends. Lunch with an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in at least 10 years. A shared dinner with some former colleagues I hadn’t seen in 21 years. A first tropical holiday the parents of our daughter’s best friend.

What’s been interesting is that these are people I’ve known for years. So in that sense they’re  ‘gold’ friends. But it feels more nuanced…as though they are new friendships…the silver kind of friendships. While there’s a mutually shared history, there’s also some new stories and significant developments.

Getting reacquainted reminds me why these individuals are so valuable to me. It’s about knowing someone over the different and difficult stages of your life and remaining friends through them all.

But I’ve also been reminded that even if I haven’t seen a friend in a while, there’s also value in reconnecting.

No matter how much time has passed.

You can share where you’ve been and what’s happened in the intervening years. You can be glad for your friend that they’ve had other friendships to lean on, whether new or old, for those times when you weren’t able to be there.

Both ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ friends have helped shaped me at key moments in my life. They’ve taught me key lessons about who I am, and what I value. 

Such friendships hold worth far beyond the monetary value of silver or gold.