Which Are Cheaper …
Silver Bullion Bars Or Coins?

Silver bullion bars usually cost less than silver bullion coins on a per ounce basis making them more lucrative if you:

  • Want to buy a large amount of silver bullion at one time.
  • Know some silver bars/ingots may take more time to sell.
  • Understand that large silver ingots require more storage space and must be stored in a secure place.

Morgan Silver Bars

My goal is to report both the pros and the cons of buying silver bars so that you are better informed when you make a purchase.

One ounce minted silver bars are a popular size and easy to store at home (see photo on right).

With that in mind, silver bullion bars are a viable option if you:

  • Are confident the silver weight and purity of the bars are authentic.
  • Understand you cannot sell your silver in small increments if you buy large bars.

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Three different manufacturing techniques are used to produce silver bullion bars of various sizes.

  • Minting or striking small silver bars from solid sections of silver bullion. Coins are manufactured in a similar way.
  • Casting which involves pouring liquid silver into molds to form silver ingots. Large silver bars are typically made using this process.
  • Extruding is the process of forcing heated silver bullion sections called billets through rectangular (or other) shaped dies (orifices).

Extrusion (extruding) is what bakers do when they force icing through a hole to decorate cakes for special occasions.

Fewer People Buy Bars

A greater number of people buy silver coins than silver bars. So it may take a little longer to sell your silver bars at acceptable prices. This is more true of the large silver ingots (pictured below).

Silver Ingots

Diamond jewelry is a good analogy that helps makes this point.

For example, there are far fewer potential buyers of a 4-karat diamond ring than a more modest ¼-karat diamond ring.

Therefore, the larger ring will probably take longer to sell.

However, the larger ring may sell quickly if demand for the ring with more “bling” exceeds supply. So it’s really a matter of market timing.

Value of Silver Bars

Silver bar prices are closely tied to the silver spot price or spot silver price (both wordings are used) for one troy ounce of silver.

You will notice that silver bullion dealers typically price their silver bars a little above the current silver spot price. Please click here to learn more about silver bar pricing.

Silver Ingots and Silver Coins

Consolidation Saves Money

You are consolidating silver when you purchase it in bulk forms such as silver ingots.

This consolidation process produces greater efficiencies -- and increased efficiency empowers dealers to charge less for silver bullion. So, logically, larger silver ingots are cheaper to produce than the smaller silver bars.

Also silver bars are cheaper to produce than silver coins since bars do not typically include as many fine details (i.e. art). When you buy silver bars
(> 1 oz.) or ingots you are consolidating more silver in fewer pieces.

In short, the larger the silver bar the lower the cost on a per ounce basis. The flip side, as mentioned above, is silver ingots/bars may require more time to sell at desired prices.

Sterling Silver Bars

Silver bullion bars can be purchased in alloy forms. This means an additional metal(s) is added during the production process.

Sterling silver bars are a common form of alloy silver bars. These bars are 92.5% pure silver with an alloy metal(s) as the balance material. Copper is an alloy metal widely used with silver.

Pure Silver Only

If you are only interested in pure silver bars ... not a problem. Listed below are some very credible brands:

Assorted Silver Ingots and Silver Bars

Counterfeit Silver Bars

I hope the number of fake silver bars in the marketplace is miniscule. But since they are out there it’s wise to take steps to avoid them.

Some simple suggestions to consider when buying silver bullion bars are:

  • Only buy from dealers that stand behind their transactions.
  • Recognize credible logos and assay stamps on the silver bars.
  • Measure and weigh each silver bullion bar to verify manufacturing specifications are met.
  • Only buy silver bars with assay certificates.
  • Conduct a specific gravity test.

Please view the video below to see how a specific gravity test of gold or silver is performed. The specific gravities of pure gold and pure silver are 19.32 and 10.49 respectively.

A 1oz. silver bar was used in the video. Also the scale in the video was only precise to .1 gram. A scale that measures to the .01 gram is recommended since it will produce a more exact measurement.

Assay Certification

An assayer is responsible for verifying the silver bullion weight and fineness (purity) claims of a refiner. Some brands stamp serial numbers on their silver bars and/or include assay certificates to accompany their products.

Pamp Suisse Silver Bars w/Assay

There are different opinions concerning the value of assay certificates. These differences stem from the fact that paper certificates are easier to counterfeit than silver bars.

Although paperwork is more easily forged, it’s still one more thing a counterfeiter must do to be successful. Another deterrent is the sealed packaging many refiners use.

The Perth Mint does not serialize its silver bars (except 1,000 oz.). Rather it relies on its swan logo (artfully-created, difficult to replicate) and sealed packages w/assay cards as deterrents.

One way to find reputable silver bullion dealers is ask for a referral from someone you know and trust who has purchased silver bullion bars. You can also check a dealer's track record with the Better Business Bureau.

1,000 oz. Silver Ingot

1,000 oz. Silver Ingot

The Bottom Line

Once again, maximizing profits is the number one reason why silver investors buy silver bullion bars.

I hope you calculate the ownership costs of bars vs. coins. I think you will find the results impressive.

These are the benefits and drawbacks of buying silver bullion bars in my opinion. Please choose a link from my navigation bar (upper left) to learn more about precious metals.

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