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Does Silver and Gold Decay?

No matter what Gold or Silver bullion you decide to buy, you run the risk of the bullion being corroded and affected by the outside environment. Decay, however, is something that many people think about in regards to Precious Metals. The ultimate question is does Silver or Gold decay? In a manner of speaking, no. The definition of decay, per the Oxford English Dictionary, is to "(of organic matter) rot or decompose through the action of bacteria or fungus." Strictly defined as organic matter, Gold and Silver fall out of the definition. Gold or Silver also do not decompose in the sense that it rots or withers away.

Even though Gold and Silver do not decay, they are susceptible to other issues, both environmental and non-environmental. 

  • Oxidation: You will often see coins that have signs of oxidation. What may appear to be the cover of the coin peeling or spots on the coin is actually oxidation on the coin. 
  • Milk spots: Though not much is known as to why these exist, milk spots have appeared on newer minted coins. (Coin Week)
  • Green spots: Often confused with mold, green spots are commonly found on U.S. cents, but they have been known to show up on Gold bullion and Silver bullion, too. Verdigris, as some call it, can be cleaned quickly and easily.
  • Pitting: Pitting is a result of corrosion. It happens when you see small holes on the surface of your coin.
  • Finger spots: Fingerprints are dangerous on coins because we have bacteria and oils on our fingers that can accelerate the corrosion process.

Gold and Silver are conductors of heat and energy, which is why these metals are used in industry. One feature that makes these two Precious Metals widely collected is they both have a high tolerance to air exposure. They, along with Platinum and Palladium, are slow to tarnish, fade or break down in the environment. By their scientific and chemical nature, these elements are not immune to corrosion, but they are immune to decay. There is a scientific reason unearthed Gold and Silver keep a shiny complexion.

Because these metals are widely unaffected by air, they have are attractive purchases for collectors and investors. The properties of each metal help slow any corrosion or degradation, allowing you to clean and properly handle the bullion.

Taking Care of your Gold or Silver Bullion

When it comes to handling your Precious Metals, you should proceed with caution and care. When you properly handle the bullion, you keep its condition and grow the value. Here are some ways to take care of your metals.

  • Use cotton gloves to help protect the coin from fingerprints. 
  • Never handle metals together, especially if you have a tarnished metal and a pristine metal. 
  • Store them in an air-tight container specifically designed for coins or bars. 
  • Dry your coin when possible. Whether exposed to moisture, a humid environment or you spilled water on the coin, be sure to dry the bullion. Moisture can cause rust and water spots.

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