Precious metals, such as gold and silver, play a unique role in human history. Explorers, for example, set out across the world in search of them, opening up new trade routes and entire new continents to trade and commerce.
In fact, Christopher Columbus may have never set sail if it hadn’t been for the prospect of finding gold in the New World. And parts of the western United States, such as California or Alaska, may have never seen an influx of settlers if it wasn’t for the Great Gold Rush during the mid-1800s.
Historically, these metals were used as currency or for ornamental purposes. These days, though, gold and silver have much more widespread applications, and are often found in electronics and medical devices.
The value of precious metals
Precious metals—a catch-all phrase for numerous metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and titanium, among others–are valuable for one primary reason: they’re scarce. And, their high market value is driven by this scarcity.
People mostly want these metals, though, because they’re pretty—they shimmer, shine, and are often used in the creation of art, jewelry, and can even be used in fancy confections at high-end restaurants.
The beauty of precious metals has gripped millions of people over millennia–from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, to Hernan Cortez, and the Forty-Niners of the Great Gold Rush. Even today we have entertainment focused on the search for precious metals, including popular television shows such as “Gold Rush” and “Bering Sea Gold.”
Gold vs. Silver: How they stack up
If you’re an investor, you may be interested in adding one (or both) to your portfolio. But how do two of the most common and sought-after precious metals, gold and silver, actually stack up to one another? We mine into some of the details below.
Most common uses:
|Electronics||Coins and medals|
Source: USGS, 2018
Value over time:
Above-ground worldwide stock:
Top worldwide producers:
Fun fact! 55% of the world’s silver is sourced from only four countries.
Countries with the largest reserves
You can invest in gold, silver, and other precious metals
You can invest in precious metals on Stash. But you don’t need to be gilded to get started—all you need is $5.