current silver prices per ounce

Special Report: How to Buy Silver

Silver prices soared as high as $50 an ounce last year before experiencing a brief correction that took it back below $30.

However, despite this blip, mounting inflationary pressures, a weakening dollar, and emerging market demand will see silver retest its record highs in 2012. In fact, this time around it could even climb as high as $150 an ounce.

The white metal has already gotten off to a strong start this year, with silver for March delivery surging 5.9% on Tuesday to settle at $29.57 an ounce - the biggest one-day gain in months.

And it's just getting started. So if you don't want to miss the next big bull-run, you might consider the following instructions on how to buy silver.

How to Buy Silver

Like gold, silver investments can be made in a variety of forms. Let's take a look at some of the most popular forms.

Physical Silver: Physical silver can be purchased in a variety of sizes and weights, which determines its price. Most typical are 1.0 ounce silver coins, like the Austrian Silver Philharmonic, the American Silver Eagle, and the Canadian Silver Maple.

Their prices vary slightly due to differences in silver purity, with the Silver Maple being the highest at 99.99% pure. You'll pay about a 16% premium over the silver price for coins due to the cost of fabricating them.

Another popular option is the 100-ounce silver bar, which commands a 5% premium over the spot price of silver.

These coins and bars are essentially bought for their silver content and not as collectibles. If you're looking to build a silver stash - either large or small - bullion dealers may be the easiest way for investors to do so. But do your homework first, and check them out before you buy. Also, avoid paying more than the premiums I noted above for either coins or bars.

Some investors wonder if they should buy smaller denominations, like 1/20th, 1/10th, ¼, or ½ ounce (gold) coins. The thinking goes like this: If ever these coins need to be used to transact and make payments, one would want to have smaller "amounts" to carry around. That's a valid rationale. Even so, keep in mind that you'll pay a premium to the actual silver content, since each individual coin has to be fabricated. I believe that, should we ever get to that point, you could just convert a one-ounce coin or bar into a number of smaller coins, and pay the premium, or perhaps receive whatever else is being used for transactions (a new currency?) in return.

A few dealers that have an established reputation are:



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