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What is Fine Silver?

Fine Silver is defined by its purity. The system used to grade Silver purity is called millesimal fineness and is expressed as a decimal. Using this system as a guide, investment and commodity-grade Silver must be 99.9 percent pure. It will often be written as .999 and is also sometimes referred to as three nines fine. Investment-grade Silver is stamped with a hallmark certifying its purity.

The Royal Canadian Mint produces an exceptional Silver Maple Leaf coin composed of ultra-fine .9999 Silver, but only a few mints have that capability.

WHAT TYPES OF ITEMS ARE MADE WITH FINE SILVER?

Fine Silver is generally only used for investment products; it is too soft for industrial, commercial or jewelry applications. Common forms of Silver bullion include Silver bars, coins and rounds. Coins command a higher premium over spot price because they are issued by a sovereign government and boast extremely high quality of both manufacture and design. They also may have numismatic value. Unlike Silver bullion bars, which can be minted anywhere in any quantity, Silver coins and collectibles are specific to a particular mint and may have limited mintages, which enhances their growth potential over time.

Most of the world’s important mints have a signature Silver coin. The United States Mint, for example, gives us the perennially popular American Silver Eagle, while the Royal Canadian Mint issues the Silver Maple Leaf coins and The Royal Mint produces Silver Britannias.

Private companies like the Sunshine Mint, the Highland Mint and the Valcambi Mint all issue investment-grade Silver bullion.

HOW IS FINE SILVER PRODUCED?
Silver is rarely found in nugget form. Mostly, it occurs in various ores such as argentite and galena. Once these ores have been extracted from the earth, it must undergo extensive processing to be refined into what we consider fine Silver.

Only after Silver has been refined to at least 99.9 percent purity, it is ready to be made into bars, coins and rounds. Some mints make ingots in traditional way, hand pouring molten metal into molds. These are easily identified by their softer edges and by their relatively duller luster. Most mints, however, using a pressing technique like one used for making coins when they produce bars. Metal strips are milled, and then uniform blanks are cut from the strips. The blanks are then stamped or struck with the mint’s design and the bar’s details. These bars have a shiny, mirror-like finish and the crisp edges associated with machine-made item.

WHY IS FINE SILVER USED IN SILVER BULLION?
The London Bullion Market Association set forth the requirements that Silver bullion must meet in order to be accepted as settlement in the London bullion exchange. These requirements specify the size, weight, markings, and fineness acceptable for bullion bars used on the exchange.

Fine Silver bullion in the form of bars and rounds have been a popular investment choice for decades. Silver bullion was approved in 1977, by act of Congress, for use in Individual Retirement Accounts, and many people now hold Silver bullion among their retirement investments. APMEX offers a wide variety of Precious Metals IRA -eligible Silver investment products.

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