For most of us, when we consider investing in precious metals, gold is the first example that springs to mind. It has long been prized for its versatility, appearance and monetary value. The silver market is smaller than its gold counterpart, which can lead to lower market liquidity and increased volatility. However, there are several compelling reasons why you should consider silver as well as – or instead of – gold when thinking about expanding your precious metal portfolio.
What makes silver valuable?
Throughout history, silver has been used as a form of currency and a key material used in jewellery making. Silver bullion bars and coins are perennially popular with collectors and investors and global demand looks set to remain high. Generally speaking, the higher purity that is obtained in a coin or bar, the more valuable it is. Silver purity is determined by the millesimal system (as opposed to the karat system used for gold).
The highest purity for silver is 999 fineness, or 999 parts for every 1,000. The most valuable silver coins and bars that are suitable for investment are made from silver with at least 999 fineness. Silver bars and coins are stamped with their millesimal denotation for easy identification and selection for investment. When it comes to valuing silver bars, purity and weight (measured in troy ounces) are key. It can be different for older coins, as their historical significance and rarity can outvalue the metal content.
Sterling silver has the highest purity levels and is commonly found in jewellery, alloyed to another metal like copper for strength and damage resistance. However, due to this mixing of alloys, jewellery may not hold as high a value for investors as coins or bars, unless the craftsmanship is of a high enough standard to increase desirability among buyers and investors.
What else is silver used for?
A key driver of silver’s enduring popularity is its use in a multitude of applications and industries. For example, silver is in high demand in the industrial sector due to its excellent electrical and thermal conduction properties. This makes it effective in a wide range of electrical appliances and electronics components. Technology, plus global demand for these products will ensure that silver remains high on industrial shopping lists for a long time to come.
In addition, the reflective nature of silver makes it sought-after for mirrors and components of high-tech scientific items, such as telescopes, microscopes and solar photovoltaic panels. Finally, silver plays a key part in many other related areas, including water filtration, mobile phones and smart devices, nuclear reactors, electric vehicles and medicine. Its future in sustainable technology and renewable energy solutions looks very bright.
How to buy silver bars and coins
Another advantage to buying silver bars and coins as an investment is the wide range of options there are to choose different sizes, values and weights. Bars start at very small weight denominations – just 5g, 10g or 20g. The smaller bars fit nicely into secure storage solutions such as safes, cash tins and safety deposit boxes. They can be transported easily when it comes to buying and selling, or simply moving storage locations. Size benefits also apply to silver coins, which are often favoured by smaller, or beginner investors.
Other, slightly larger options for buying silver bars include the one-ounce, ten-ounce and one-kilo bars. These are obviously larger and offer excellent levels of purity and resale value. Bars of all sizes should be bought and sold via verified, trustworthy bullion professionals, who can guarantee the authenticity of purchases and provide advice around portfolio management and expansion. Always ensure that any authentication documents or certificates are kept with the silver.
When selling silver coins or bars on, it is equally important to work only with a verified bullion expert. This will mean that you can secure higher prices and maximise the value of your investment when it is time to convert all or part of it back into cash. It will also help ensure that your buyers are genuinely interested and will not cause undue delays or concerns. Always insure silver coins or bars when posting or delivering them to their new home and pay for extended tracking services.