How Many Americans Own Gold or Silver?

10.8% of Americans own gold and 11.6% own silver. This concise breakdown not only responds directly to the question of “how many Americans own gold or silver” but also sets the stage for a deeper analysis of the economic and demographic variables affecting precious metal ownership in the United States.

Key Takeaways

Precious Metals Ownership in the United States

Stack of gold and silver bars

Precious metals, notably gold and silver, have long been seen as symbols of wealth and prosperity. However, the ownership of these assets, such as gold coins, is not evenly distributed among the American population. Approximately 10.8% of Americans own gold, while 11.6% own silver. The typical American household owns an average of 6.4 ounces of gold bullion. So, one might wonder, how much gold is actually owned by the general population?

Such disparities in ownership can be attributed to factors such as disposable income and access to investment opportunities, with older and wealthier individuals generally possessing more resources to invest in these precious metals.

Gold Ownership Among Americans

Being a symbol of opulence and stability, owned gold is a reality for approximately 10.8% of Americans. Notably, the highest rates of gold ownership are seen among individuals between the ages of 18 and 65+.

The safe haven status of gold during periods of economic uncertainty makes privately held gold an appealing asset for affluent individuals.

Silver’s Shine in American Portfolios

Though gold usually comes to mind first when considering precious metals, silver commands attention as well. Indeed, silver enjoys a slightly higher popularity among Americans, being owned by 11.6% of the population. The lower cost of silver compared to gold makes it a more accessible option for many Americans.

For those who have owned silver, the most common forms of ownership include American Silver Eagles and bullion silver bars.

The Age Influence on Precious Metal Investments

Group of diverse age groups

Ownership of precious metals is significantly influenced by age. Investment in precious metals such as gold typically increases as individuals enter their 30s and have a stable income. Among the youth, males between 18 and 24 years old show the highest inclination towards investing in silver.

However, Generation Z consumers exhibit a reduced propensity to invest in gold for the long term, possibly due to distinct financial priorities or risk preferences.

Millennial Investors Specifically Turning to Gold and Silver

Gold and silver have attracted increasing interest from millennial investors in recent years. They accounted for the largest portion of survey participants who reported owning these metals in 2020. This trend might be due to millennials using gold as a hedge against economic uncertainties.

Indeed, both gold and silver are owned by 7.5% of millennial investors as private gold holdings.

Senior Savers and Precious Metals

The precious metals market significantly involves senior citizens. According to a survey by the world gold council, older Americans are more likely to invest in gold and silver. However, a surprising 84% of senior citizens do not possess any gold or silver.

For those who do invest in these metals, common methods include acquiring gold for their investment portfolio or establishing a gold IRA. This preference for precious metals during retirement is often due to their ability to provide safety for the invested amount and act as a hedge against inflation and market uncertainty.

Gender Dynamics in Precious Metal Ownership

Gender diversity in investment

Precious metal ownership is also influenced by gender dynamics. Generally, men are more likely to own gold and silver compared to women. However, there are exceptions to this trend. For instance, middle-aged women are particularly likely to exclusively own silver, while some may also own gold jewelry.

Furthermore, 5.6% of females aged 35 to 44 reported owning silver, but not gold. Various societal factors, including traditional gender roles, restricted access to financial resources, and gender bias within the industry, might contribute to this gender gap.

Investment Vehicles for Gold and Silver

Physical gold and silver coins

Individuals have a variety of options for investing in gold and silver. These include physical assets, such as coins or bars, and digital investments, such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or other digital platforms. Each investment vehicle comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages that investors need to consider.

Physical Gold and Silver: A Tangible Asset Choice

The unique sense of security offered by owning physical gold and silver stems from their status as tangible assets that can be held and stored. In fact, 38% of American retail investors own physical gold. To acquire these assets, retail investors can purchase coins or bars from reputable dealers or jewelers, and some have even purchased gold coins or solid karat gold jewelry. However, there are risks associated with owning these physical assets, including the possibility of theft and the need for secure storage.

Digital and Paper Gold: Modern Ways to Invest

Conversely, digital and paper gold investments offer a more user-friendly and convenient method for investing in precious metals. These include gold ETFs, which are traded on a stock exchange and allow investors to gain exposure to the price of gold without having to own the physical asset. The popularity of digital gold investments has been on the rise in recent years, especially among millennials. However, like all investments, there are potential risks that investors need to consider.

Central Banks vs. Private Holdings: A Comparison

The role of central banks in gold ownership demands consideration. These institutions hold a significant amount of gold, with the U.S. Federal Reserve holding over 8,133 tonnes. In total, central banks worldwide hold approximately 35,000 tonnes of gold. This is a stark contrast to private holdings, which, while considerable, are dwarfed by the reserves held by central banks.

Economic Stability and Precious Metals

Economic stability concept

Precious metal ownership is significantly influenced by the economic state. During times of economic instability, such as recessions, there’s often a shift in investor interest towards gold and silver. This is because gold and silver are seen as a hedge against inflation and economic instability, preserving or increasing in value as the purchasing power of currency decreases.

However, the precious metals market is not immune to global events, as demonstrated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tea Party Movement’s Influence on Gold and Silver Ownership

Gold and silver ownership can also be influenced by political movements. The Tea Party movement in the United States, for instance, advocates for the ownership of gold and silver as a representation of real currency. Many supporters of the movement believe in a return to the gold standard and have influenced legislation concerning the ownership of gold and silver.

The Role of Disposable Income in Precious Metal Purchases

An individual’s ability to purchase gold and silver can be significantly affected by their disposable income levels. Wealthier households are more likely to invest in these precious metals. Financial experts often advise individuals to allocate between 5 to 20% of their investment portfolio to gold and silver, depending on their disposable income and investment profile.

However, fluctuations in disposable income levels, whether due to inflation or individual economic conditions, can significantly impact the acquisition of precious metals.

Adding Gold and Silver to Diversify Investment Portfolios

Diversification can be achieved and a hedge against inflation and economic instability can be provided by adding gold and silver to investment portfolios. Financial experts generally recommend allocating between 5% to 10% of an investment portfolio to these metals. Gold and silver are seen as a hedge against inflation and economic instability, preserving or increasing in value as the purchasing power of currency decreases.

However, like all investments, there are potential risks involved, including the possibility of theft and price volatility, which could lead to financial losses.

Understanding the Survey Data

Valuable insights into the demographics and preferences of precious metal investors are provided by the survey data used in this analysis. The survey included 1,500 American participants representing diverse age groups and genders across the United States. Data was obtained by querying respondents about:

This data provides a comprehensive understanding of the precious metal investment landscape in the United States.

However, it’s important to note that there were limitations and potential biases in the data. For instance, the majority (84%) of respondents did not possess gold or silver, and there may be a public inclination towards only gold as a long-term investment.


The ownership of gold and silver among Americans is influenced by a variety of factors, including age, gender, income, and economic conditions. While a significant portion of the population owns these precious metals, there is a notable disparity in ownership, with wealthier individuals and older age groups showing higher rates of ownership.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of Americans own gold or silver?

Approximately 10% to 12% of American adults own gold or silver, with a combined 12% owning gold and a combined 14.7% owning silver.

How much gold does average person own?

On average, the typical person owns approximately 6.4 ounces of gold, based on the number of households in America.

How much gold can a US citizen legally own?

A US citizen can legally own as much gold as they desire, as there are no restrictions on private gold ownership in the United States. There is no limit, and individuals are only limited by their budget and common sense.

How does age impact the ownership of gold and silver?

As individuals enter their 30s and have a stable income, they tend to increase investment in precious metals like gold and silver. Millennials and older individuals show a higher propensity to invest in these metals.

How does gender influence precious metal ownership?

Gender can influence precious metal ownership, with men being more likely to own gold and silver. Middle-aged women, on the other hand, are particularly likely to exclusively own silver.