Looking After Your Silver Bullion
If you’ve decided to start investing in silver and you’ve just received, or are waiting to receive, your bullion bars or coins, then you’ll be making preparations to store the metal and to look after it. Silver’s a little bit trickier to care for than gold as it will tarnish over time, whereas gold is almost completely inert. Read on here to find out more about looking after your silver.
If my bullion gets scratched, will it lose value?
Bullion is used for the intrinsic value of the metal rather than its numismatic value, which is the value of the coin in terms of rarity, age and so on. Bullion has almost no numismatic value, not even the “coins”. It’s all about the weight and the purity, so the condition of the bars and coins don’t matter so much. Obviously, a scratched bar or bullion coin looks less appealing and may sell last out of a batch, but unless there’s great big chunks missing that reduce the weight, damage doesn’t matter.
I know that silver tarnishes, but why?
Silver is much more reactive than gold and it will react with the small amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere, causing a very fine layer of silver sulphide, which is black. Hydrogen sulfide is also found in fossil fuels, eggs, onions and some rubbers so it’s unavoidable. Damp environments speed up the tarnishing, which is why it’s important to keep your silver bullion in a dry place.
Does tarnish lower the value of my silver?
Not at all, but if you want to slow the tarnishing process down then there are ways to do this. Once tarnish has set in, it’s not a good idea to keep polishing the bars or coins because each polishing session will remove a small layer of metal, which will reduce the value over time.
How can I reduce the tarnishing?
If you’re particularly worried about tarnishing, then you can wear clean cotton gloves when you handle your bullion, as the oils and other contaminants on your hands can cause discoloration. It’s also a good idea to use plastic-tipped tweezers to pick up coins and smaller bars. If you have to lay out several coins, then use a clean, soft cloth to lay them on – lint or velvet is best. Avoid using fabric conditioner when you wash this cloth.
If your coins are in tubes, then keep them in the tubes and put them in a container alongside a charcoal block. You can buy these blocks from pet stores as they’re used in fish tanks to filter out pollution. If you have individual coins, keep them in capsules (slabs) and place them in a container as well.
You can also use bags of silica gel to absorb water, which can prevent mildew and corrosion in the storage container. If you have a large store of bullion, then a dehumidifier might be a good idea.
Is there anything I shouldn’t use?
You should avoid anything like Ziploc bags as the coins can rub against one another, which can abrade the surfaces over time. PVC is also a bad idea as this material can release acidic gases, which will react with the metal, causing corrosion.