We report the optical activation of erbium coated silicon nanowires (Er-SiNWs) grown with the assist of platinum (Pt) and gold (Au), respectively. The NWs were grown on Si substrates by using a chemical vapor transport process using SiCl(4) and ErCl(4) as precursors. Pt as well as Au worked successfully as vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) catalysts for growing SiNWs with diameters of similar to 100 nm and length of several micrometers, respectively. The SiNWs have core-shell structures where the Er-crystalline layer is sandwiched between silica layers. Photoluminescence spectra analyses showed the optical activity of SiNWs from both Pt and Au. A stronger Er(3+) luminescence of 1,534 nm was observed from the SiNWs with Pt at room- and low-temperature (25 K) using the 488- and/or 477-nm line of an Ar laser that may be due to the uniform incorporation of more Er ions into NWs with the exclusion of the formation of catalyst-induced deep levels in the band-gap. Pt would be used as a VLS catalyst for high performance optically active Er-SiNWs.