I'm on a roll! This is my third Gold Why Q&A this month. I just wrote
about 22 Karat Vs. 24 Karat Gold and
Mini Gold Coins in my last two articles. Today, I'm
thrilled to answer another really important Gold Why Question. Actually, today's is a silver question. Let's
jump right into the question...
©iStockphoto.com – AK2
Question: hello. i discovered your site today whilest surfing and i love it. some great info for a newbie (like myself)
to the world of precious metal. can you help me? i bought some silver rounds and because i can't afford a bunch at a time, i order them
several at a time... well, they aren't sealed so some of them are starting to color. what do i do? and how do i prevent the new ones from
doing this? does it affect the value? will abstaining from handling them prevent this in the future? it is kind of distressing. thanks so much!
Answer: This is another super question and thanks so much for asking. First and foremost, thanks for the compliment.
I truly appreciate the positive feedback, Gold Why is all about making my readers happy, educated, and informed. In terms of your question,
I'll answer it in three parts. First, I'll talk about the discoloration of your silver coins. Second, I'll talk about how you can prevent it
in the future. Last, I'll discuss discoloration of silver and its effect on the value of your silver coins.
Silver Coins Tarnish Easily
The discoloration of your silver coins is tarnish. When you expose silver to the air, it will discolor. If you handle silver coins, the oils
from your hands (even if you wash them first) will accelerate the tarnishing. In short, it's really easy to tarnish silver coins. It's
also really easy to tarnish copper coins and bars as well. I do my best to only handle silver when wearing gloves. Also, I do my best to store
silver coins in plastic sleeves or even air tight containers (but more on that later). Whether you are dealing with coins, utensils, or even
an antique mirror, silver tarnishes easily so that's what you're seeing with your personal collection of silver coins. Personally, I have tarnished
some of my silver coins. I guess we all learn the hard way. My wife bought me a really neat
Silver Eagle Money Clip. It looked flawless when it was new but quickly tarnished
from use. That's ok, it's all about using my money clip and I'd rather use it than have it sit around. Let's contrast this with gold. Gold bullion
does not tarnish. This is one of the major reasons I personally enjoy gold bullion more than silver bullion. It's easier to handle and you don't have
to worry about tarnish.
How Can You Prevent Your Silver Coins From Tarnishing?
Recently, I wrote a post about Storing Gold and Silver Coins.
I highly recommend checking out that post. When it comes to silver bullion coins (such as the
Silver American Eagle) or even
Silver Art Bars, it's all about locking out the air. At the very least, I recommend
placing all silver coins and bars in individual plastic sleeves. When placing your coins in sleeves (if they didn't already come in one), make
sure to avoid using your bare hands. Rather, put on gloves. I personally use latex gloves underneath cotton gloves. My hands sweat so thin cotton
gloves are not enough to keep the sweat off the silver. If your silver already came in a plastic sleeve, leave it there! You're done. Those plastic
sleeves do a really great job keeping your silver from tarnishing. Another option: Consider air tight coin capsules for your more expensive coins.
Some of the more expensive silver coins I have purchased came in these from the coin shop. An example: Check out my
Silver Peace Dollar. In addition to plastic sleeves and capsules, I then lock my silver
collection in one of those air tight plastic food containers (the expensive kind with the thick locking lid). My number one piece of advice for
silver: Follow the rules above and don't break any rules. If you break these rules, your silver will tarnish. Also, never attempt to clean
tarnished silver coins. It's always better just to leave them tarnished. If you attempt to clean, you will lower the value of your coins.
Are Tarnished Silver Coins Worth Less?
If you're buying silver for its raw bullion value, tarnishing does not lower the value of your investment. Sure, it lowers the aesthetic value.
Moreover, if you're selling on eBay to a picky buyer, maybe you'll get less. However, if you go to your local coin shop and are interested in
selling for the raw bullion value of your silver coins, you have no problem. Tarnished or not, the silver content is the same and the coins
are worth the same amount. That said, I do highly recommend keeping your silver bullion coins in great non-tarnished shape. Why? They look
better that way. And, bullion coins could always have numismatic value at some point. If you're buying coins for their rare, collectible value
(basically a premium over the spot price of the metal in them), the grade of your coins matters. Less (or no) tarnish means a better grading of
your coins. I personally like to invest in silver bullion coins with the hope that some of them may turn out to be rare numismatic investments
at some point. For that reason and because I'm a total neat freak, I'm all about keeping my silver bullions coins in tip-top shape. I hope this
helps and please keep the amazing questions coming!
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