Posted on June 16, 2022
As a precious metal, silver often takes a back seat to gold, and that’s a shame. Silver has just as long and illustrious track history of wealth preservation and use as money as gold does! Silver has a wide variety of applications beyond the monetary: industrial and manufacturing, solar applications and electric vehicles, medical devices and dentistry, and even photography rely on silver.
Many investors favor silver over gold because it’s a more useful metal commercially and is a key component in everything from medical products to solar energy. To give you an idea of how useful silver is, roughly half of all demand for silver comes from industrial applications, whereas only around 8% of gold demand is for use in technology manufacturing.
Best of all, compared to the other precious metals, silver’s price per ounce puts pure silver bullion in nearly everyone’s price range.
Silver “rounds” are the lesser-known alternative to silver bars and coins that might present an excellent opportunity for you to invest in the metal. If you’re not familiar with silver rounds, we’ll tell you everything you need to know and choose which silver rounds are best to buy.
Silver rounds are discs of precious metal that look like coins but don’t have a face value. That’s because silver rounds can be made by any refiner or mint – and those refiners don’t have the magical power to turn metal or paper into spending money.
Silver rounds are arguably the most affordable way to invest in physical precious metals. Unlike gold, platinum, and palladium, silver rounds sell for a very reasonable price of less than $30 for a 1 oz round (at the time of writing). Compare that same $30 with gold, platinum, and palladium, and you’ll be hard-pressed to buy even a single gram.
When compared with silver coins, silver rounds look and feel very much the same, but can typically be bought for a lower premium over spot price. Sometimes, silver bullion bars are available at even lower premiums, but not always.
Silver rounds are often sold by weight – meaning you are buying some number of silver rounds, possibly all from the same refiner or possibly a mix of designs from different sources.
The main factor in determining the price of silver rounds is the spot price of silver. As with any bullion product, there is always a markup over spot pricing to cover the cost of refining, minting, storing, and shipping the finished product. In contrast with gold, platinum, and palladium, silver bullion actually has a much higher percentage markup over spot pricing. Even based on the higher percentage, thanks to silver’s lower price per ounce, the total premium you pay is much lower.
Similar to other bullion products, silver rounds and bars tend to have a lower markup than coins.
Note also, not all silver rounds are the same! Some silver rounds are masterful sculptures in miniature, rich with elaborate detail. (Most aren’t much more than a refiner’s logo stamped on a disc of silver.) If you’re looking at silver rounds and aren’t sure whether they’re standard or collectible silver rounds, a lower premium over spot usually points to bullion.
Private mints are the main producer of silver rounds, though any mint or refiner can make silver rounds. Since silver rounds aren’t legal tender and don’t have a face value, their manufacture isn’t limited to government mints, as is the case with coins. Private mints aren’t legally allowed to produce any kind of money (unless under contract with a government to do so).
For example, a small nation like the Cook Islands might want to mint silver coins – and, since they don’t have a national mint, they shop around to the big-name refiners to find the services they want. That’s why you see things the Cook Islands armillary coin produced by Valcambi – it’s a partnership between a private mint, which does the work, and a government, which authorizes (and pays for!) the creation of the coins.
When not working on government-licensed coins, a lot of mints and refiners keep their machinery dedicated to the production of silver rounds.
There are certain criteria to help you choose silver rounds, so consider the following when evaluating which silver rounds are best to buy.
The refiner (also usually the brand and assayer, too) of silver rounds can help provide the confidence that you’re getting a quality product. In addition, silver rounds made by top assayers will be easier to sell since they’re more recognizable. Some of the leading brands include Asahi Refining, Sunshine Minting, Valcambi, and SilverTowne.
The London-based association that manages and oversees bullion markets offers accreditation to select refiners who meet their high standards. The refiners whose silver products meet these demands are named to the Good Delivery List, which is synonymous with superlative bullion products.
The size and weight of silver rounds can be your guide when choosing which products to buy. 1 oz silver rounds are the most common, but other weights, like 2 oz and 5 oz, are sometimes available. Although less common, some refiners produce silver rounds in smaller weights, like 1/2 oz. Some popular options are the 1 oz silver buffalo round and 1 oz Asahi Refining silver round.
Silver rounds can have different levels of purity, also known as fineness. Generally speaking, the finer the silver, the better quality it is. Many silver rounds are 0.999 fine, but you may even be able to find silver that is 0.9999 pure.
If you want to invest silver rounds in your IRA, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the IRS guidelines. To qualify as IRA-eligible bullion, silver rounds have to be produced by a certified refiner or mint, and be 0.999+ pure silver. Keep in mind that if you want to store your silver rounds at home, they can’t be part of your IRA.
Sometimes, silver rounds sell out or are simply hard to find. Availability at the time of purchase can limit your options, so it may be a good idea to see which silver rounds are readily available before you choose.
The easiest and safest way to buy silver rounds online is from a bullion dealer with excellent reviews, like BullionMax. If you prefer to do business the old-fashioned way, you can always shop for silver rounds in person at local coin shops or coin shows.
Before you buy silver rounds, here are some other considerations to bear in mind:
When you’re ready to begin your search for the best silver rounds at great prices, visit BullionMax.