The precious metal investment industry relies greatly on refiners whose silver bars are accepted as “good delivery” for transactions. These are known as COMEX Good Delivery silver bars or London Good Delivery bars.
COMEX, or the Commodity Exchange Division, is part of the New York Mercantile Exchange. COMEX sets strict rules regarding which silver bars can be traded on the exchange. These rules for “good delivery” silver bars help to ensure that silver bars from one mint are similar to silver bars from any other COMEX-approved mint.
COMEX Silver Contracts
Often, investors purchase COMEX contracts, which are a paper contract for silver, while leaving the physical silver stored in a depository. It is possible to take delivery of this contract, at which point Good Delivery silver bars will be shipped to the investor. Note that only some COMEX silver contracts allow for taking delivery of the bars.
Good Delivery specifications are also required for silver in other investment situations. In order to be eligible for investment in a silver IRA, silver bars must be COMEX approved. This is an important consideration for investors who are purchasing silver bars to save for retirement. In addition to being traded through major exchanges, Good Delivery bars are also used as silver reserves for central banks and governments.
London Good Delivery Bar Specifications
The London Bullion Market Association publishes the London Good Delivery List, a list of refiners whose gold or silver bars meet their stringent qualifications. These regulations are also used by other organizations, such as COMEX, as they are widely accepted as an industry standard.
COMEX Good Delivery silver bars contain 1,000 troy ounces of pure silver. The weight of each bar must be expressed in troy ounces. Each silver bar must be at least .999 (or ‘three-nines’) fine. Producers of COMEX-approved bars must mark each bar with their hallmark, along with the bar’s weight and fineness, and the year of manufacture. Most Good Delivery silver bars follow recommended dimension ranges. As a result, Good Delivery bars from various mints are all approximately the same size.
COMEX maintains a list of approved silver refiners and mints. Only silver from these producers is used to mint “good delivery” silver bars, and can be used to satisfy a COMEX silver contract. These refiners have passed assay tests, ensuring the high quality of the silver bars they produce. There are more than 50 active refiners in 27 countries producing good delivery silver bars. The list also includes the names of refiners and mints that are no longer producing silver bars, but whose previously-minted bars fall within the specifications.
Often, when buying silver bars from a precious metal dealer, the dealer will sell Comex-approved bars from the mint of its choice, rather than guaranteeing that the bars will be minted by a specific company. These bars are guaranteed to meet certain quality standards regarding the weight and purity of the bar, and as such, can be traded sight-unseen.