Silver as an investment has similar purposes as gold. There are industrial uses for silver, such as jewelry, but the price is driven primarily by supply and demand and investor speculation. Typically, precious metals, such as gold and silver, are in higher demand when there is widespread uncertainty about currencies, especially with that of the US dollar. Therefore silver is often used as a hedge against currency fluctuation or as a store for cash during times of economic uncertainty and unrest.
The silver market is much smaller than the gold market, which makes for higher volatility (fluctuations) in price. Therefore investing in silver can be risky for most investors and relatively small portions, such as 5% or less of an investor's total portfolio, may be appropriate for diversification purposes. Some investors prefer to buy precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum and copper, in the physical form of bullion coins. Others prefer to buy shares of mining company stocks or mutual funds, ETFs and ETNs.
Silver Investing With Mutual Funds, ETFs & ETNs
Most mutual funds do not hold silver as a physical asset. Investors can get indirect exposure to silver in mutual funds by holding equity precious metals funds, such as Vanguard Precious Metals & Mining (VGPMX) and USAA Precious Metals & Minerals (USAGX) but these will typically have more exposure to gold and gold mining companies than silver and silver mining companies.
If you want the most direct exposure to silver, you will use a silver Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), such as iShares Silver Trust (SLV).
Investors can also use an Exchange Traded Note (ETN), such as UBS E-TRACS CMCI TR Silver ETN (USV), as an alternative. However, it is important to note that ETNs are debt instruments, like bonds, that do not invest in any asset. Although linked to the performance of a market benchmark, ETNs are not equities or index funds.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be misconstrued as investment advice. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities.