Why Is Silver So Cheap Compared to its Glittering Cousin Gold?

Silver’s low cost often puzzles investors and enthusiasts alike. The simple answer to why is silver so cheap lies in its plentiful nature and the historical gold-silver ratio that has cemented its market position. As we unpack these factors, you’ll discover the multifaceted reasons behind silver’s affordable entry-point in the world of precious metals.

Key Takeaways

The Gold-Silver Ratio: A Key Factor in Silver’s Low Price

Illustration of gold and silver bars

The gold-silver ratio, an essential metric in the precious metals market, significantly contributes to silver’s low price. This ratio, also known as the gold to silver ratio, is the amount of silver it takes to purchase one troy ounce of gold and is a measure of the relative value of these two metals. At present, the gold-silver ratio stands at a staggering 82 to 1, suggesting a substantial price disparity between gold and silver. But what does this mean for silver investors?

Basing silver’s price on the production ratio (the ratio of gold to silver production), with gold priced at US$2,000, could potentially value silver at approximately US$240. This suggests that the current market price for silver is notably lower than what it might be based on its relative scarcity compared to gold. Interestingly, silver’s low price is mainly attributed to its abundance and lower relative historical value compared to gold.

Understanding the Gold-Silver Ratio

Investors and analysts find the gold-silver ratio a useful tool. It quantifies the number of silver ounces required to purchase one ounce of gold, helping them understand the relative value of these two precious metals in the market. This ratio is calculated by dividing the market price of gold by the silver price.

A high gold-silver ratio indicates that silver is undervalued relative to gold. This can influence the demand for silver-backed currencies and overall market dynamics for precious metals, including physical silver and silver bullion. Silver’s close ties to the gold-silver ratio further emphasize its importance in the world of precious metals.

Conversely, a low gold-silver ratio signifies that gold is comparatively undervalued in comparison to silver. This can impact the profitability of silver mining companies and the overall precious metals market dynamics.

Historical Context of the Gold-Silver Ratio

The gold-silver ratio has witnessed numerous twists and turns throughout history. Government policies, such as the demonetization of silver following the US Civil War, played a significant role in these fluctuations. Additionally, market forces and financial crises have also led to changes in the gold-silver ratio, especially during times when there’s a sudden increase in gold prices.

The gold-silver ratio’s historical journey reflects a variety of factors that shaped silver’s price, including:

How the Gold-Silver Ratio Impacts Silver Prices

The gold-silver ratio not only measures the relative value of these two metals, but it also strongly influences silver’s price. A high gold-silver ratio suggests that silver may be undervalued compared to gold, leading to silver being referred to as the poor man’s gold. This perception often influences investors’ trading decisions, making them more likely to buy silver in anticipation of a price increase.

The gold-silver ratio impacts investor sentiment by indicating potential undervaluation or overvaluation of silver. Such indications guide buying and selling decisions that impact the market price of silver. Thus, an understanding of the gold-silver ratio is crucial for investors looking to navigate the precious metals market.

Silver’s Abundant Supply: A Double-Edged Sword

Photo of a silver mining operation

Silver’s abundance compellingly contributes to its low price. The increased availability of silver is a result of:

However, this abundant supply of silver is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes silver more accessible for investors, but on the other hand, it can lead to price volatility. Investors play a pivotal role in shaping the demand for silver, using it as a hedge against inflation and speculating on its price.

Silver Mining and Production

Increased silver mining and production have resulted in a greater market influx of silver compared to gold. The global silver production is expected to exceed one billion ounces by 2023, from around 918 million ounces in 2021. This rise in production is largely attributed to the efforts of leading silver-producing countries, including:

This increase in silver supply has contributed to its lower price compared to gold. The abundant availability of silver has made it a go-to choice for many investors looking for an affordable entry into the precious metals market, with silver so cheap compared to other options.

Industrial Demand for Silver

Illustration of silver being used in industrial production

In addition to being a precious metal, silver plays a significant role as an industrial metal. Its unique properties, such as its high thermal conductivity and low corrosivity, make it useful in various industries. From manufacturing long-life batteries to solar panels and superconductors, silver’s industrial applications are expansive.

While the industrial demand for silver adds to its value, it can also contribute to price volatility. Changes in industrial production, economic conditions, and technological advancements can lead to fluctuations in silver’s industrial demand, impacting its price.

Investment Demand for Silver

Investment demand is another key determinant of silver prices. Factors such as economic conditions, inflation, and investor sentiment significantly impact the demand for silver as an investment. For instance, during periods of high inflation, the demand for silver tends to surge, often surpassing the available supply and leading to a scarcity of silver coins and bars.

Investors’ perceptions and sentiments towards silver can also influence its price. In times of geopolitical tension or declining investor sentiment, the demand for safe-haven assets, such as silver, tends to increase.

The Role of Central Banks and Government Policies

Silver’s pricing is influenced not only by market dynamics but also significantly by central banks and government policies. These entities play a pivotal role in influencing silver’s price through their control over monetary policies and interests rates.

Historically, government policies have had a substantial influence on the gold-silver ratio, and by extension, on gold and silver prices. For instance, the demonetization of silver and the implementation of the gold standard led to shifts in silver prices.

Bimetallic Standards and Demonetization

Bimetallic gold silver standards were a monetary system where both gold and silver were designated as legal tender at a fixed ratio, also known as the mint ratio. Countries like:

adopted this standard through the Latin Monetary Union in 1865. This system had a positive impact on the price of silver by ensuring a stable exchange value between silver and gold.

However, the transition from a bimetallic standard to a gold standard in the early 1870s marked the end of the bimetallic era. This shift was instigated by global changes that favored gold over silver, leading to the demonetization of silver and a decline in its price.

Government-Owned Silver Reserves

Photo of government-owned silver reserves

Government-owned silver reserves can also have a substantial influence on silver prices. Large acquisitions or disposals of silver by governments can affect supply-demand dynamics in the market. For instance, the United States, which once held substantial silver reserves, divested all its holdings several decades ago, impacting the global availability and pricing of the metal.

Countries with large silver reserves, such as Peru, Australia, and China, can also play a significant role in the silver market. Their substantial reserves can influence the silver supply chain, and in turn, its price.

Central Bank Policies and Interest Rates

Central bank policies and interest rates can also impact silver prices. Low interest rates often have a positive effect on silver investments as the opportunity cost of holding silver diminishes, making investors favor silver over other assets that generate lower returns.

On the other hand, elevated interest rates can diminish the demand for silver, as it’s perceived as a non-yielding asset. As a result, investors may shift their focus to assets that provide more favorable returns, resulting in a decline in silver prices.

Is Silver Undervalued? Debating Silver’s Intrinsic Value

The debate on silver’s undervaluation centers around its industrial applications, comparisons to other precious metals, and expert viewpoints. Silver is often regarded as a ‘hybrid’ metal, influenced by both investment and industrial demand. Given its historical use as a currency and its current pricing being substantially lower than that of gold, some experts believe that silver holds untapped value.

However, views on silver’s value are not uniform. While some experts believe that silver is undervalued and has potential for substantial growth, others remain cautious due to market uncertainties.

Silver’s Industrial Applications

Silver’s industrial applications add to its intrinsic value. Its distinctive properties, such as high electrical and thermal conductivity, make it highly valued in various industries. From long-life batteries to solar panels and superconductors, silver’s industrial applications are expansive.

Thus, even when considered as an industrial metal, silver holds substantial intrinsic value. This value, coupled with its role as a precious metal, makes silver an attractive investment option.

Comparing Silver to Other Precious Metals

When comparing silver to other precious metals like gold, platinum, palladium, and rhodium, silver often comes across as undervalued. Over the last decade, the price of gold has experienced an approximate 48% increase, whereas silver has demonstrated a growth of around 12%.

However, it’s important to note that each of these metals has different industrial applications and market dynamics. Therefore, their prices are influenced by different factors, making a direct comparison challenging.

Expert Opinions on Silver’s Value

Expert opinions on silver’s value vary. Some experts believe that silver is undervalued, especially when considering the gold-silver ratio and the diverse range of industrial uses of silver.

However, it’s important to note that while silver may appear undervalued, its value is influenced by a host of factors, including:

Therefore, investors should consider these factors before making investment decisions.

Investing in Silver: Pros and Cons

Silver investments carry both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, silver’s lower price compared to gold makes it an accessible investment option for many. It also offers potential for growth during periods of economic uncertainty. However, like any other investment, silver comes with its share of risks. These include price volatility and market fluctuations influenced by a multitude of factors.

A variety of factors, including economic conditions, inflation, and investor sentiment, shape the investment demand for silver. Understanding these factors can help investors make informed decisions about investing in silver.

The Appeal of Silver as an Investment

Illustration of silver bars as an investment

Silver’s affordability compared to gold is one of its main attractions as an investment. This makes it a more accessible investment option for many precious metals investors, especially those with a limited budget. Additionally, silver’s dual nature as a precious and industrial metal adds to its appeal.

Furthermore, silver’s potential for growth during periods of economic uncertainty makes it an attractive investment option. In times of economic expansion, silver often outperforms gold, making it a worthwhile addition to an investor’s portfolio.

Risks Associated with Silver Investments

Like any other investment, silver investments carry inherent risks. Market fluctuations, economic conditions, and changes in industrial production can lead to price volatility, thereby impacting the value of silver investments.

Moreover, a decrease in industrial demand for silver can also affect its price. Concerns about an economic downturn or a reduction in demand from certain sectors can result in a diminished industrial demand for silver, potentially impacting the stability and value of silver investments.

Diversifying Your Precious Metals Portfolio

Including silver in your precious metals portfolio offers a hedge against inflation and economic downturns. In periods of high inflation, silver often retains its value, making it an effective inflation hedge.

Moreover, the addition of silver to a portfolio can offer benefits such as risk mitigation, improved consistency, and potential for higher returns. As a ‘hybrid’ metal influenced by both investment and industrial demand, silver makes a valuable asset in a diversified portfolio.


In conclusion, the low price of silver in comparison to gold can be attributed to a multitude of factors. These include the gold-silver ratio, the abundance of silver, its industrial demand, and the influence of central banks and government policies. While silver might be undervalued due to these factors, it also offers an appealing investment option due to its potential for growth during periods of economic uncertainty.

Investing in silver comes with its share of pros and cons, and it’s crucial for investors to understand these before making decisions. Despite its lower price, silver’s unique properties, industrial applications, and potential for growth make it a worthwhile addition to any precious metals portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is silver so cheap now?

Silver is cheap now because of the abundant existing supply and lower demand compared to the past, due to the end of the bimetallic standard worldwide.

Is it really worth buying silver?

Yes, it’s worth buying silver as it has historically proved reliable for investors, tends to hold its value well during economic uncertainty, and offers good returns on investment compared to other asset classes. Before investing, it’s important to check the latest silver rate.

Why is silver price dropping?

The silver price is dropping due to the stronger US dollar, rising interest rates by the US Federal Reserve, and the overall strength of the economy, which tends to affect silver prices. The recent drop in silver price has been influenced by these factors, causing it to hit a one-month low and track the performance of the dollar and other precious metals.

Will silver ever be worth $100?

It is possible for silver to reach $100/oz if inflation exceeds 10% in 2022 and 2023, as more people may turn to precious metals as a hedge against inflation. While inflation is forecast to approach 5% in 2021, the pace has been unprecedented since 2008.

What is the gold-silver ratio?

The gold-silver ratio measures the number of silver ounces needed to buy one ounce of gold, aiding investors and analysts in assessing the relative value of these precious metals in the market.