It is becoming more and more commonplace these days for individuals to melt and produce their own silver bars and ingots. The price to purchase the necessary equipment is within reach of many silver bullion investors/collectors and the temptation to produce unique silver ingots in various designs and with custom stamps is hard to resist. Bars and ingots of various purities, including .90, .925, and .999 fine can be produced as long as the purity of the items being melted together are the same. While the thought of converting old dingy silverware into standardized sizes of ingots is appealing, we recommend that you take into consideration a few factors before you begin melting your .999 fine silver, sterling silver or 90% silver coins into silver ingots.
Unless you plan on becoming a national producer of silver bars and ingots, there’s a high likelihood that the only person that will recognize your silver bars or ingots is you. If you plan on holding the bars forever, that’s not a problem, but if you have any intent of selling your silver ingots in the future, or even if there’s the possibility that you might, it’s probably best to stick with recognizable silver bars, rounds and ingots. The most well recognized and popular silver bars and rounds are produced by Engelhard and Johnson Matthey, but there are many other name brand bars and rounds that are popular. Even generic rounds, such as those stamped “.999 fine” or “one troy ounce fine silver” are highly liquid, but in general, if it appears as though a silver ingot is hand produced, unless by a name brand refiner, individuals may be hesitant to purchase the items.
As alluded to above, the purity of a silver bar, round or ingot is an important factor with respect to the marketability and demand of silver bullion. Even generic silver bullion, when stamped .999, is highly liquid. Unfortunately, demand begins to tail off as the purity of an item drops. In reality, the interest level of any generic silver that has a purity of less than .925 (sterling silver) is next to nil, so it’s best to stay away from melting junk silver coins. Furthermore, it’s illegal to do so, so your best bet is to sell the coins in bulk to a coin dealer, even if the coins are highly worn; commonly referred to as “cull coins.” One issue with handmade silver ingots is that the purity of the items may be questionable. Short of confirming the purity of an item through a professional assay, the purity may not be able to be confirmed, which will limit the prospective buyers.
One benefit in owning silver bars, rounds and ingots from a well-established private mint or refiner is that the sizes of the items are standard, and are oftentimes stamped on the item. Common sizes of silver ingots or bars include 1 gram, 5 grams, 10 grams, ½ ounce, 1 ounce, 5 ounces, 10 ounces, 50 ounces and 100 ounces. While 99% of items that are stamped can be trusted to be accurate in weight, it’s a fairly simple process to bring along a scale to confirm the weight. On the other hand, hand produced silver ingots tend to vary in weight, which can make it difficult to determine the melt value of the item. Unless you regularly deal in the bullion industry, it may not be readily apparent what the value of your silver bar or ingot may be if it varies from one of the standard weights mentioned above. This will in turn limit the number of potential suitors for your silver ingots.
In summary, producing your own silver bars and ingots can be fun hobby and instill a sense of accomplishment, but if your intention is to sell your ingots at some point in the future, you may want to consider selling your unwanted silver bullion to a coin dealer and acquiring silver bars and ingots that are likely to be more liquid and marketable. Possible pitfalls with producing your own silver bars or ingots involve producing an item that is recognizable and in demand in the marketplace. Furthermore, the purity of your item may be questioned if not stamped on the item, or possibly even still if the silver bar or ingot isn’t common and recognizable. Lastly, having a standard and recognized size and weight is important with respect to silver bullion, and unfortunately it can be difficult to produce standard sized items when melting your own silver ingots.
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers. Visit his website at www.atlantagoldandcoin.com for additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company.