This Minireview systematically examines optical properties of silver nanoparticles as a function of size. Extinction, scattering, and absorption cross-sections and distance dependence of the local electromagnetic field, as well as the quadrupolar coupling of 2D assemblies of such particles are experimentally measured for a wide range of particle sizes. Such measurements were possible because of the development of a novel synthetic method for the size-controlled synthesis of chemically clean, highly crystalline silver nanoparticles of narrow size distribution. The method and its unique advantages are compared to other methods for synthesis of metal nanoparticles. Synthesis and properties of nanocomposite materials using these and other nanoparticles are also described. Important highlights in the history of the field of metal nanoparticles as well as an examination of the basic principles of plasmon resonances are included.