Silver is like three other precious metals (gold, palladium, and platinum) in terms of being regarded as an investment commodity. In fact, this precious metal has been regarded as a form of currency and a store of value for over four centuries.

There are different ways by which one may invest in silver. Six are presented here:

Buying silver coins:

This is a popular way of taking hold of silver - physically. Perhaps the best example of a silver coin is the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, which consists of 99.99% pure silver. Silver coins may either be "fine silver" or "junk silver". Junk silver coins are older coins with a lower percentage of silver. Examples of these are the dime, quarter, and fifty-cent U.S. coins minted in 1964 or earlier. These coins contain 90% silver and are 8/10 troy ounce per 1 USD of face value.

Buying silver bullion bars:

This is the most traditional way of investing in silver. Silver bullion bars can be bought or sold over the counter in most banks in Switzerland. They may be stored in safe deposit boxes in banks or placed in non-fungible (allocated) or pooled (unallocated) storage with a silver dealer.

Opening a silver account:

An investor may open a silver account with one of the major banks in Switzerland. Here, silver can be bought or sold over the counter just like any foreign currency. However, the bank client does not own the actual silver metal. Instead, he/she has a claim against the bank for a specified quantity of the metal. A silver account is backed through either allocated or unallocated storage.

Owning a silver certificate:

In lieu of storing actual silver bullion, an investor may opt for ownership of a silver certificate. A silver certificate allows an investor to buy and sell the security sans the inconveniences associated with the physical silver's transfer. The Perth Mint Certificate Programme, which is fully guaranteed by the Government of Western Australia, is the only silver certificate program in the world that is guaranteed by a national government.

Trading in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs):

An investor can have an easy way of gaining exposure to the price of silver through an ETF. Some of the well-known ETFs include iShares Silver Trust (with ticker symbol NYSE: SLV), Central Fund of Canada (with ticker symbols TSX: CEF.NV.A, NYSE: CEF), and ETFS Silver Trust (with ticker symbol NYSE: SIVR). Trading in ETFs means doing away with the inconveniences associated with the handling of physical silver bars.

Entering in a Contract For Difference (CFD):

Some of the noted financial services firms, especially those in the United Kingdom, provide Contract for Difference (CFD). In this silver investment vehicle, two parties (a "buyer" and a "seller") enter into a contract, in which the seller agrees to pay the buyer the difference between the current value of silver and its value at contract time. In case the difference is negative, the seller receives payment instead from the buyer. A CFD, therefore, allows an investor to take advantage of long or short positions, enabling him/her to speculate on these markets.

It must be mentioned here though that silver has lost its forced tender status in the United States since the abandonment of the silver standard, when, on August 15, 1967, then U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the U.S. would discontinue redeeming currency for silver (or any other precious metal).


here are thirty-three known bullion coins in the world. Of these, 5 are made of platinum, 1 of palladium, 9 of silver, and 18 of gold. And of all these precious metal coins, the South African gold bullion coin Krugerrand is perhaps the most popular.

In 1967, the South African Mint Company introduced the Krugerrand, with the intention of circulating it as currency. Its status as a legal tender was seen as the best way for marketing South African gold around the world. In fact, thirteen years after its introduction, this precious metal coin accounted for about ninety percent of the gold coin market.

The Krugerrand comes in four varieties:

1. One-tenth ounce coin (0.11 troy ounce in weight, 1.35 millimeters thick, and 16.55 millimeters in diameter).

2. Quarter ounce coin (0.27 troy ounce in weight, 1.89 millimeters thick, and 22.06 millimeters in diameter).

3. Half ounce coin (0.55 troy ounce in weight, 2.22 millimeters thick, and 27.07 millimeters in diameter).

4. One ounce coin (1.09 troy ounces in weight, 2.84 millimeters thick, and 32.77 millimeters in diameter).

Each of these four coin varieties is 22K, containing 91.67% pure gold and 8.33% copper. This composition was meant to make the coins more durable and harder and thus resist dents and scratches, as, again, they were originally intended for circulation.

On the obverse of the Krugerrand is the face of Stephanus Jonannes Paulus Kruger, fifth president of the South African Republic (note the surname Kruger and the South African currency Rand were combined to give this precious metal coin its name). Also here are the Afrikaans and English versions of the name "South Africa", both inscribed in capital letters.

On the reverse of the coin is an image of the springbok, an antelope specie which is a South African national symbol. Atop the image is an inscription of the name of the coin, in capital letters, while below it is the coin's gold content, inscribed in Afrikaans and English.

Special samples of the coin (proof Krugerrand) are minted and offered as collector's items. These proof Krugerrands are priced above the bullion Krugerrands. The two coin versions can be distinguished from one another by the number of serrations they have - the proof version has 220, while the bullion has 40 less than the former's.

Other nations, such as Canada, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, started producing their own precious metal coins one after the other beginning in 1979. The decisions of these gold-producing countries to mint their own bullion coins were most likely inspired by the success of the Krugerrand in its role as a vehicle for promoting the South African gold to the international market. As of 2008, about 1.3 million kilograms of South African gold, contained in Krugerrand coins, have been sold.

Unlike the bullion coin series of other countries, which come in gold and silver, the Krugerrand comes only in gold. Coins made of silver that are passed off as "Krugerrands" are neither produced by the South African Mint Company nor sanctioned by the government of South Africa.