Silver has soared from under $15 in early 2008 to well over $30 currently. That’s similar to gold, which has also roughly doubled in the same time frame.
The black eye for silver, however, is that last spring the metal “crashed” from $48.70 to $32.50 in just eight trading days.
The good news: That disparity can work both ways, since during the run-up to $48.70, silver significantly outpaced the gold’s returns. If you’re a short-term trader looking for a pop, then it may be worth while diversifying your hard assets a bit beyond the gold market.
And for all you investors preparing for the apocalypse, physical silver has actual currency potential if you truly believe the dollar will become worthless. After all, how do you buy inexpensive essentials like food or clothes with a gold bar worth thousands or a gold coin worth hundreds? Silver is much more practical due to its smaller per-ounce value.
If you want to get into silver, the metal also has trust ETFs such as the iShares Silver Trust ETF (NYSE:SLV), which is up about 33% so far in 2012, and the smaller ETFS Silver Trust (NYSE:SIVR), which is up by the same amount. Like gold trusts GLD and IAU, these are pure plays on silver.
A few miners also are primarily silver-focused. One of the largest is Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW), which is up a staggering 40% year-to-date in 2012. Others include Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS) and Silvercorp Metals (NYSE:SVM), both of which are up about 20% this year.
Of course, if you’re looking less for an investment and more for a hedge against chaos, you can stock up on silver bars and coins to store beside your gold heap. Just remember that you need roughly 50 times the storage capacity to stockpile the same amount of silver.