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Investing in gold or silver is always a great idea, but precious metals investing comes with a lingo of its own that may need some further explanation. Oxford Gold Group sees many examples of first-time gold or silver investors asking questions like, “Aren’t silver rounds and coins the same thing?” They are both made of silver, but there’s more to be said for why one type of round silver piece while the other is a coin.
What’s the difference between silver rounds vs. coins? The answer is quite simple: a silver round cannot be used for tender like a coin. Below, Oxford Gold Group’s precious metals team shares all you need to know about silver coins, silver rounds, and savvy silver investing.
Why Is There So Much Confusion About Coins and Rounds?
A silver round does not have a tender designation on the face of the coin, whereas a silver coin features tender details that are official and consistent. For the novice investor, coins and rounds look so alike that it can be hard to look past their physical similarities to identify any marked differences. The marketing language dealers use to sell coins and silver rounds can also be elusive; you need to ask the right questions.
The term “silver round” is rarely heard unless you are a precious metal investor or a coin collector. There are also certain features that may mask the difference between bullion coins and silver rounds on the open market. Here are four key considerations:
#1 Both Have Stamps
Today, legitimate bullion coins and silver rounds have stamps indicating purity and weight. A quick look can be deceptive, but a closer inspection will reveal that one is a coin with a denomination and other information, like country of origin.
#2 Silver Round Designs Mimic Coins
The designs of many silver rounds copies old coins (but with information missing). For example, an advertisement for a “Buffalo Nickel Design” does not refer to an actual silver Buffalo Nickel. Rather, the sellers are advertising a silver round that carries a design similar to an authentic Buffalo Nickel.
#3 Advertising is Purposely Deceptive
Some dealers advertise silver rounds as “Buffalo Nickel Design,” with the (very) fine print disclosing that it is not an actual buffalo nickel. Eager investors may easily miss this language or hardly legible disclosure, and it is important to understand what you are purchasing before finalizing the arrangements.
#4 Size Is Unreliable
A silver round is about the size of an old-style US Silver Dollar. By law, the silver round must feature the word “copy” minted into the silver. However, it may be hard to spot that word when the round design incorporates it in a clever disguise of lines, images, and currency-style prints.
What You Need to Know About Coins and Silver Rounds
It is not always immediately apparent that you are buying a silver round and not a silver coin, especially where you do not take the time to find these distinguishing features up close. The obvious difference—that one is a tender—is not enough to fully understand the difference between silver rounds and coins. Technically, both carry a market value that you could use to purchase goods or services, even though a cashier at a retail outlet might not accept your silver round.
Key Features That Silver Dealers Won’t Mention
The untrained eye will not notice that silver rounds and silver coins have any differences, but coins are unique from silver rounds for the following reasons:
- Official support. A government backs coins, and only the governing body can issue silver coins for tender.
- Official name. Coins bear the issuing country’s name, and every silver coin indicates the country of origin.
- Legible Date. The date of issue (the year) is minted onto the coin.
- Official Denomination. Silver coins indicate the denomination for legal tender. For example, the US Silver “dollar” is worth $1 of legal tender.
Counterfeits are prosecutable by the government with stiff penalties because they back the coins they manufacture. Telling silver coins and rounds apart is also easier when you notice the typical features that are on each, as well as what might be missing. For example, silver rounds are unique from coins in that:
- Private manufacturers can make silver rounds. They can also be government-issued as “medals” or “medallions.”
- Details vary. For example, silver rounds may not reflect the denomination, even if they bear the country of origin’s name.
- The date is unclear. Silver rounds do not typically contain a date stamp like silver coins.
- Agencies punish counterfeits. Silver round counterfeits do not have the amount of silver they claim to possess. These crimes fall under the jurisdiction of agencies in the United States.
- The government avoids involvement. Authorities do not back the purity of the silver rounds unless it is a special issue commemorative round (a rarity). The dealer authenticates and guarantees these silver rounds themselves.
As far as physical differences, there are two prominent features:
- Silver rounds must imprint “copy” somewhere onto the design to comply with the law.
- Silver rounds are typically slightly larger than most old mint or new mint silver coins.
Is Face Value Important?
Silver bullion coins would be as valuable as a silver bar if all things were equal—if you buy a one Troy ounce silver bar and a one Troy ounce silver coin, they have the same value. The coin face (of the coin, not the silver round) may indicate a different value, but that is irrelevant unless you use the silver coin as money. The face value of the coin has very little to do with its market value as a commodity.
What’s The Value Difference?
Silver rounds are typically heavier than silver coins, which can represent a better investment value. However, silver coins have the collectability factor, and both collectors and precious metals investors see value in them. The purist precious metal investors prefer silver rounds for investment purposes because they are not concerned with curating a collection, but this is not always the case.
Collectors might like silver rounds with:
- Limited minting. When a round has a finite minting, it can boost its appeal as a collectible.
- Rarity. A popular but hard-to-find round piques collectible interest.
- Age. Older rounds that are no longer in circulation may be worth something to collectors.
Silver coins can be a better investment option if you are looking at long-term returns. For example, old, minted silver coins have historically grown in value. Silver rounds are a great investment option to diversify your portfolio without worrying about maintaining a collectible.
How Do The Costs Compare?
Silver rounds are less expensive than coins because the collectability factor introduces a premium on top of the price of silver by weight. Premiums include all costs associated with the silver coin, including that minting costs are higher for coins than rounds. Other pricing factors include:
- more detail on the coin to comply with legal parameters
- the age of the silver coin,
- which government issued it,
In comparison, silver rounds have a straightforward pricing structure. Most value is purely based on the spot pricing of silver as a precious metal. Silver rounds typically have lower premiums, so you pay less for the same amount of silver compared to a collectible silver coin.
If you want your investment dollars to go further, silver rounds are the safest investment vehicle to diversify your portfolio. You can also purchase more of the precious metal at lower premiums.
Which is Better: Silver Rounds or Silver Coins?
Both coins and silver rounds are worth consideration. Silver coins are certainly more attractive as a collectible, a pull for some investors. However, silver rounds might be more affordable when you are starting to think about precious metal investing.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages that may help you decide how to invest:
- Highly collectible
- Lower premiums (but higher than silver rounds)
- Accessible proof form
- Easy to store in coin tubes
- One-ounce increments limit
- Higher premium price per ounce
- Harder to purchase
- Lower premiums
- Spot costs comparable to silver bars or bullion
- IRA-eligible, depending on the origin
- Easy to stack and store
- More accessible in bulk, allowing some flexibility
- No collectible value unless a rare specimen
Investing is not a clear-cut endeavor, and the purpose of your venture is crucial when deciding between silver rounds or coins. Understanding the differences should make it easier to come up with wiser investment choices that match your financial goals.
Round Up The Right Support
So, what’s the difference between silver coins and silver rounds? There are many factors that will help you to make informed decisions about whether to invest in one or the other. If you are still unsure, why not reach out to Oxford Gold Group for advice about how to reach your financial goals through precious metals investing?
The Oxford Gold Group professionals are happy to answer any questions about silver rounds and coins and all other precious metal investment choices. Call us at 833-600-GOLD today and start building your legacy.