Many silver investors are unsure of whether to buy silver bars new or secondhand. New silver bars can be bought directly from the mint, or from authorized distributors. Secondhand bars, meanwhile, are typically sold by local pawn shops, coin dealers, and individual investors. There are benefits, as well as drawbacks, with either purchasing method. Your decision between new and secondhand silver bars depends on your philosophy and investment goals.
Newly minted silver bars are very shiny. If you enjoy showing off your silver bars, these have unparallelled eye appeal. They look brand new. They have not been handled extensively, and are free from scratches and other signs of wear. You will receive new silver bars in the same condition as they left the mint.
Note that any wear, such as scratches, does not affect the intrinsic value of the silver within the bar. However, if the appearance of your silver bars is important to you, you may want to avoid buying secondhand silver in favor of new bars.
Silver bars purchased directly from the mint are known to be authentic. With no middle-man, there is a much reduced chance that your silver bars have been swapped with counterfeit ones at some point during the process. Most new silver bars come from the mint with a certificate to prove their metal content and authenticity.
Particularly if you are interested in secondhand silver bars, always insist on an assay certificate or Certicard to verify the bar’s authenticity and silver content. These are issued by the mint when the silver bar is initially sold. In some cases, the silver bar may be sealed in a protective plastic case. When buying such bars, look for those that are still sealed inside the case., and have not been tampered with. With recent examples of silver-plated bars containing a non-precious metal covered with a thin layer of real silver, it is more important than ever to be sure you are buying pure silver bars, whether you are purchasing them new or secondhand.
There are downsides to buying brand-new silver bars, too. This tends to be among the priciest ways of investing in physical silver. Many silver mints charge higher premiums than third-party dealers, who frequently operate with a lower per-bar profit margin. Often, you can find lower prices by purchasing bars that are a year or two old, from a third-party precious metal dealer, rather than buying this year’s bars straight from the mint.
However, this is not always true. Online silver dealers, for example, tend to offer products straight from the mint, and are able to charge competitive prices because they have a lower overhead than traditional silver dealers.
Secondhand silver bars may not be as shiny. They may show oxidization or scratches due to improper handling or storage. Such wear doesn’t affect the weight or value of the silver within the bar. Despite this, some investors are willing to pay a premium for shiny silver bars that have exceptional eye appeal. This makes new, undamaged silver bars a smart investment.