Last year proved to be sterling for silver, according to recently released figures from the Silver Institute.

Year over year, average silver prices increased in 2011 by 74 percent. Coming in at $35.12 per ounce, silver's average price last year was more than $14 higher than in 2010, the institute said Wednesday.

Silver's strong price performance last year owed much to the strength in investment demand, as well as growth in industrial demand, much of which is relatively price insensitive in the short term, said Michael DiRienzo, executive director of the Silver Institute, in a statement.

The price of silver has been on the rise since 2001, and average prices nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011. Since 2001, the price has increased by 703 percent.

Last year silver's price increase outperformed all precious metals, including palladium, gold and platinum, the institute said.

Accord to a November 2011 report commissioned by the Silver Institute and prepared by Thompson Reuters GFMS, silver has been on the rise since Lehman Brothers collapsed. In 2009, silver saw an increase in world investment. In 2010 world investment in the metal reached a high of 9,212 metric tons. By the end of 2010, investments reached 29,000 metric tons.

Despite the yearly increases, silver prices at market end Wednesday took a hit, finishing at $29.14, just four cents above its previous close.