The spot price of silver is one of the most searched for online, though let’s begin by defining what the “spot” price means. You can think of it as the price of silver on the spot, right now. The spot price refers to the cost of one ounce (oz) of silver that is transactable today.
In this guide on silver prices, you’ll also learn about different units of measurements used to weigh silver alongside the standard ounce, like the troy ounce and more.
You can jump ahead to see what factors determine silver prices and find out why they are typically quoted in US dollars. You can often see silver’s price alongside other popular currencies like EUR, GBP, CHF, JPY, and CNY.
What Factors Determine Silver Prices?
As with any natural resource, the price of silver is driven by two main factors — the natural environment in which it’s found and the market it’s brought and sold in. The natural rock formations that provide silver are worked with more and more sophisticated machinery, and this means that we need to add the impact of technology to the equation.
Mining machinery is even more important to consider in the case of silver, since the majority of mined silver that enters the market is a by-product of other mining operations for metals like copper, zinc, and lead. Silver is extracted either from the upper layers of the ground’s crust via “open pit” mining or via “underground” mining, where rocks are pulled up and refined to achieve purified silver.
What silver’s unique position as a byproduct-supplied precious metal means, is that silver prices are hugely impacted by the supply and demand cycles of the other metals.
How Silver Prices Are Driven by Silver’s Supply and Demand Cycle
Silver prices are also exposed to a greater fluctuation in commercial and retail use. With thousands of practical use cases as well as a steady presence as a fashion metal, silver’s price is subject to broad economic influence. This is expected with the complex supply chains silver is tied to.
Some common uses of silver include products like tableware, alloys, batteries, jewelry, and far more. The other metals with which the majority of silver is mined as a byproduct also have their own supply and demand cycles. This means that silver and its price are key players in a collective metal economy.
The key takeaway is that the price of silver is driven by a number of factors that affect how much is extracted. Then, once the ores are processed and the silver purified, they enter the economy in a way that is controlled by private and public organizations with regulatory power over supply volumes.
For example, heavy rainfall can cause mine floods, extreme heat can overheat machinery, and landslides are also common in rocky regions. Then, the shot-callers of the precious metal economy regulate supply to suit market conditions in commercial and retail consumer markets. This is how a silver spot price is born — the price per ounce in the chart above.
Cryptocurrency’s Impact on Silver Prices
Since people often consider Bitcoin the “digital gold alternative,” it is somewhat of a competitor to silver. As a store of value, cryptocurrencies are attracting speculator’s money that may otherwise flow into silver.
While such speculation wars don’t result in huge price swings, there can be interesting correlations of silver prices to the crypto market’s overall direction.
How Is Silver Weighed?
The most common units of measurement to weigh silver are:
- Ounce (oz): One standardized ounce is about 28 grams. The spot silver prices you see are typically shown in price per oz.
- Troy Ounce (oz): May be used to weigh silver bullion, like bars, coins, and other larger single accumulations of silver. One troy ounce is equal to 31.1034768 grams — this unit was originally used in the city of Troyes, France. It’s a common unit used by bullion dealers.
- Gram (g): A humbler, smaller measument that’s more common when buying silver coins, jewellery, and industrial silver for retail use.
Most of us are familiar with grams as the smallest common unit to measure weight, but that’s not true. Silver can also be measured in milligrams (0.001 g) or even micrograms (1e-6 g)!
Other units of measurement we might see when tracking silver prices, though not so common, are:
- Kilogram (kg): Consists of 1,000 grams of silver. Can occasionally be seen in larger volume silver transactions.
- Tonne (t): A tonne of silver is 1,000 kg (as opposed to a ton, which is 907 kg). To measure the price of silver per tonne may sound impressive, but otherwise useless for the everyday silver price tracker.
- Tael (in traditional Chinese: 兩): A Chinese unit of measurement, standardized to 50g. There are different versions of tael used to measure precious metals around the world. For example, you might find 37.5g silver tael bullions.
- Tola (in Hindi: तोला): The tola is a measurement unit standardized to 3/8th of a troy ounce. That’s around 11.66 grams of silver. It originates from ancient use around South Asian regions, including India.
Is Silver a Popular Precious Metal?
Silver could be said to be the second most known precious metal behind gold, meaning traders are likely to gravitate towards it as the main alternative metal to speculate on. In terms of mined volume, silver is far more abundant than palladium, platinum, or even gold.
As we’ve discussed, silver is mainly a byproduct of other mined metals, and this results in more silver. This does contribute to the lower per ounce silver price.
In terms of value, silver is far behind the likes of Rhodium, Iridium, and the aforementioned — simply because there is so much of it and not enough demand to lift the prices to the premiums we’re expected to pay for other precious metals.
Silver prices are not so much about popularity. It’s a metal that shows how abundance and popularity work together to create an affordable, desirable commodity.
Why Is Silver Usually Quoted in USD?
While most people might’ve heard of the gold standard, there is in fact a monetary system called the “silver standard.” The silver standard refers to a monetary system where a unit of fiat currency is allocated a set value against a fixed weight of silver.
For example, if silver prices are $25 per ounce, we could say that $1 is valued at 1/25th of an ounce of silver. If we convert that to grams, that’s about 1.13 grams on the US dollar.
Silver was a more popular unit of currency than gold, right until the late 1800s. The silver standard preceded the gold standard, but the question is still the same. Why is silver typically quoted in USD?
As the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, the ripple effect carried on to metal other than gold — the explanation is that simple. Great Britain also had a major influence on silver prices being quoted in US dollars, not to mention that the “pound sterling” carries silver in its name.
The island empire’s relations with the US most likely contributed to how we see silver prices today.
Ways to Trade Silver
For those who have seen enough about silver prices and want a piece of the action, there are many ways to trade it. Here’s a brief comparison of the convenience and risk of different ways to speculate on silver prices.
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Silver Bullion Dealers
Silver is available in a variety of physical forms via bullion dealers: bars, ingots, coins, and more.
Before you check these reviewed bullion dealers, note that you may find silver coins for sale with a nominal face value. This means that the silver coin may be worth a set amount if spent, but has a different value when sold by weight.
You can see such examples with JM Bullion’s American Eagle Coin. This coin is worth $1 at face value, but weighs one ounce and sells for over 30 times more than the coin’s face value. It’s pure silver, after all, and it weighs an ounce.
When you observe silver prices with bullion dealers, it’s also worth noting that silver bars and ingots are cheaper by the ounce, the higher you go in weight. Such “discounts” vary from dealer to dealer.
Learn More About Silver
There’s plenty more to learn about silver prices, the metal’s traits, and its trading environment. Here are some guides to get you started:
- Silver As A Commodity: A summary of silver’s use cases, mining processes, and refinement methods. This guide also covers interesting facts about silver’s position in the global economic monopoly.
- Trading Silver: A guide about ways to trade silver and where you can do so with lower risk.
- Bullion Dealer Guide: Online bullion merchants reviewed by the Commodity.com team, with a straightforward guide on how to choose one.
The following economic overviews of nations can also be useful to learn about the current silver market:
- Mexico: The world’s leading silver exporter.
- UK: Annual silver exports of over £1.4bn.
- South Korea: Over 7% market share of the world’s silver export market.
- Japan: The 7th largest silver exporter.
- Germany: 8th largest silver exporter in the world.
For more precious metal live price charts, see:
What does the spot silver price mean?
The silver spot price refers to the value of a given weight of silver available to buy or sell at the present moment. Typically, the spot price is shown as currency unit/ounce of silver, though the standardized presentation of the spot silver price may change, depending on the service or country it’s located in.
What is the difference between silver bid and ask prices?
When brokers sell silver, silver prices are presented in two categories: bid and ask. Silver’s bid price is higher than the asking price because when the broker sells you silver, they will charge more cash per ounce than what they will buy silver from you. Bid and ask spreads are how bullion dealers and brokers make money with silver trading.
Are silver prices live 24 hours a day?
Yes, like many other precious metals, silver is traded 24-hours a day, and so silver prices are always ticking. Unlike the stock market with limited opening hours, silver prices tick along all day and night. This is great for speculators who prefer to be tuned in at all times.
Are silver coins worth more than the face value?
Silver coins are usually worth more than face value. This is because the coins are sold by the value of the weight, rather than the nominated currency value of the coin. Learn more about how a silver coin’s value often cancels out the coin’s nominal value.
How does inflation impact silver prices?
Fiat currency inflation tends to correlate with silver prices in that when currency values tumble, silver prices may see a spike. However, inflation doesn’t have the vast impact on silver prices that it does on gold, since silver is commonly viewed as a secondary store of value to the aforementioned.
How do I check the price of silver?
You can check the live price of silver at the top of this page. Our chart allows you to adjust the time frame of the silver prices you want to observe, and you may also select a custom date range to view historical silver prices up to today in different increments of time.