Argent falls into the categories of both “surnames as first names” and “word names,” though they share the same source: the Old (and Modern) French argent “silver.”
Silver’s association with the moon goes back to ancient times. It has long been believed to enhance the power of the moon, capable of forging a strong link between the the physical and metaphysical worlds.
The surname probably arose as a nickname for someone with silver hair, while the word has been used in the past as a noun (for a silver coin) and an adjective.
Nowadays, it is mostly confined to heraldry, where it is used of both silver and white in coats of arms.
The Old French word came from the Latin for silver argentum, which gives us the chemical symbol for silver — Ag.
It is cognate with the Welsh arian “silver” — which is still used to mean “money” in Welsh — which is found in more than one Welsh name, such as Arianwen, which combines it with gwyn “white,” “pure,” and “blessed,” and Arianell, which combines it with gell “yellow,” and “shining.”
It may also feature in the name of the Goddess Arianrhod — which is popularly interpreted as meaning “silver wheel” and a reference to the moon.
Caer Arianrhod is the Welsh name for the Milky Way.
The Common Celtic word from which arian derived was *arganto-, and the “g” is preserved in the medieval name Argante — used by Layamon in the twelfth century epic poem Brut as the name of the Queen of Avalon.
She is usually identified with Morgan le Fay, and there are those who argue that the name derives from an older form of Arianrhod.
Another old form is Eraint, which features in the epithet of the mythical Welsh figure Lludd Llaw Eraint “Lludd of the Silver Hand.”
This form also happens to demonstrate well the etymological relation between arian and the Modern Welsh Eirian “shining.”
Meanwhile, its Sanskrit cognate is Arjuna, a name borne by a hero of the epic Mahabharata. The modern Hindi form of the name is Arjun.
Argent itself is first found as a given name as early as the sixteenth century, interestingly enough as a girl’s name. This probably represented a simpler form of Argentea, which was taken directly from the Latin argenteus meaning “silvery” and “of silver.”
By the nineteenth century, it is more commonly found as a boy’s name, often as a middle name, indicative that the surname was now the principal source.
Today, Argent is a rarity. It has never reached the top 1000 in America, and only even appears in the data at all on one occasion, in 1926, when five girls were given the name.
Bursting as it is with heritage and meaning, I think it makes for a great unusual and contemporary choice for a boy or a girl. What do you think?