Precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium have long been prized as stores of value thanks to their rarity, durability, and diverse applications. In recent years, precious metals have also gained significant popularity as investment assets, especially during times of economic uncertainty. When markets become volatile, investors often allocate a portion of their portfolios to physical precious metals or mining stocks as a way to diversify risk.
For those looking to invest directly in physical precious metals today, there are many reputable bullion dealers to purchase coins, bars, rounds, and other metal products from. However, researching and choosing a reliable dealer, understanding pricing, and finding trustworthy guides on precious metal investing can be challenging for newcomers.
With this foundational knowledge, investors will gain the confidence to prudently purchase physical precious metals through a trusted dealer and incorporate bullion into a strategic investment portfolio.
Popular Precious Metal Bullion Products
Before surveying leading bullion dealers, it helps to understand common precious metal products investors can purchase. Popular bullion forms include:
- American Gold Eagle – U.S. minted coins available in sizes including 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. Guaranteed by the U.S. government.
- American Gold Buffalo – 24 karat coins struck by the U.S. Mint with 1 oz size as well as fractional weights.
- Canadian Gold Maple Leaf – Gold coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, available in 1 oz and smaller sizes.
- South African Gold Krugerrand – Iconic 1 oz gold coin minted in South Africa, known for its durability and recognition.
- Australian Gold Kangaroo – Australian issued gold bullion coin series with 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz sizes.
- Austrian Philharmonic – Beautiful gold coin from the Austrian Mint, offered in 1 oz size and fractional weights.
- American Silver Eagle – Most popular silver bullion coin, struck by the U.S. Mint in 1 oz size plus fractional weights.
- Canadian Silver Maple Leaf – .9999 fine silver coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in various sizes including 1 oz.
- Australian Silver Kookaburra – Iconic silver coin series from the Perth Mint depicting the Kookaburra bird, available in 1 oz through 1/2 g sizes.
- Austrian Silver Philharmonic – A beautiful .999 fine silver coin with 1 oz as the most common size.
- Chinese Silver Panda – Licensed silver bullion series depicting the Giant Panda, 30 grams to 1 kg sizes.
Gold & Silver Bars
- PAMP Suisse – Highly reputable Swiss refiner offering gold bars from 1 gram up to 12.5 kg and silver from 1 ounce to 100 oz.
- Perth Mint – Australian mint gold and silver bars in sizes ranging from 1 gram to 10 oz and 1 oz to 5 kg respectively.
- Royal Canadian Mint – Canadian minted gold and silver bars available in sizes from 1 gram to 1 kg.
- Johnson Matthey – A leader in assayed, high-quality gold and silver bars since 1852, sizes from 1 gram to 12.5 kg gold and 1 oz to 100 oz silver.
- Credit Suisse – Well-known Swiss bank offering 1 gram to 1 kg gold bars and 1 oz to 100 oz silver bars.
- Sunshine Minting – An American mint providing gold bars from 1 gram to 10 oz and silver 1 oz to 100 oz silver bars.
In addition to these popular coins and bars, many dealers also offer rounds, wafers, grains, and other novel bullion products. Now let’s survey some of the most reputable precious metal retailers.
READ ALSO: 10 Best Gold and Silver Coins for Investment
Leading Bullion Dealers
For investors looking to purchase physical precious metals online, these leading bullion dealers represent some of the most trusted retailers:
Founded in 2000, APMEX (American Precious Metals Exchange) has grown into one of the largest online precious metal retailers globally. They offer an extensive catalog of coins, bars, and rounds as well as competitive pricing, insured delivery, and reasonable minimum order sizes. APMEX is a great one stop shop for precious metals.
Products – Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium coins/bars/rounds from mints worldwide.
Storage – Free storage for qualifying orders or storage accounts available.
IRA Eligible – Many products approved for precious metal IRAs.
Minimums – As low as 1/10 oz gold and 1 oz silver.
Reputation – Well established dealer with excellent reputation. A+ BBB rating.
JM Bullion is another highly regarded online dealer founded in 2011 that has quickly become a leader in precious metal retailing. They focus exclusively on coins, bars, and rounds, offering deep inventory across gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.
Products – Large catalog of investment grade coins, bars, and rounds.
Storage – Segregated, insured storage accounts available.
IRA Eligible – All products are approved for IRAs.
Minimums – Extremely low at 1 gram gold and 1 oz silver.
Reputation – Trusted dealer with excellent customer satisfaction and an A+ BBB rating.
Established in 2010, SD Bullion is a trusted online dealer providing one of the largest inventories of gold and silver coins, bars, and rounds available. They offer excellent pricing along with low minimums and a price match guarantee.
Products – Extensive selection of bullion products from mints worldwide.
Storage – Fully segregated and insured storage accounts are offered.
IRA Eligible – Most products approved for IRA investing.
Minimums – Very low at 1/10 oz gold and 1 oz silver.
Reputation – Highly regarded with great customer reviews and an A+ BBB rating.
Founded in 2012 and based in New York City, Bullion Exchanges has developed into one of the premier precious metal retailers in the United States. They provide deep access to coins, bars, and rounds at competitive pricing.
Products – Large catalog of gold, silver, platinum, palladium investment products.
Storage – Insured storage accounts are available through Brink’s and Delaware Depository.
IRA Eligible – Many coins and bars are approved for IRAs.
Minimums – Extremely low at 1 gram gold and 1 oz silver.
Reputation – Trusted dealer with excellent customer satisfaction and an A+ BBB rating.
This list just highlights a few of the many excellent precious metal retailers available today. However, there are certainly disreputable dealers to avoid. So what should investors look for in a trusted bullion dealer?
Choosing a Reputable Bullion Dealer
Here are the most important traits to seek out in a trusted precious metal retailer:
- Established history – Look for dealers with a long track record of satisfied customers over many years. New companies are riskier.
- High marks from review sites – Review sites like TrustLink and BBB help identify dealers with satisfied customers and few complaints.
- Competitive pricing – Compare dealers on common products, watching for the lowest premiums over spot price. Avoid very high premiums.
- Wide selection – A robust selection of products from major sovereign mints inspires confidence in product quality and availability.
- Secure website – Look for https security and 256-bit SSL encryption to protect transactions and data.
- Responsive customer service – Test customer service before buying by phone, email, and chat to gauge responsiveness.
- Reasonable minimums – Low minimum orders like 1/10 oz gold or 1 oz silver provide flexibility for small investors.
- Payment and shipping options – Good dealers accept various payment methods and offer reasonable shipping fees with tracking and insurance.
- Return policy – In case of damage or other issues, dealers should allow easy returns and exchanges.
- Storage services – Some dealers offer segregated storage accounts for added safety and convenience.
Taking the time to thoroughly vet a few top dealers using these criteria helps identify reliable partners for investing in physical bullion.
Bullion Storage Options
Once precious metals are purchased, owners face the question of how to store it securely and cost effectively. Key storage options include:
- Personal safe – Safes can provide protection against theft and some fire/water damage. Look for UL rated safes with 350+ hours fire resistance.
- Bank safe deposit box – These provide protection against loss but have some limitations on insurance and accessibility. Annual fees apply.
- Dealer storage account – Some dealers like APMEX offer storage accounts insured against theft and damage for a monthly fee.
- Third party vaults – Non-bank vaults like Brink’s offer maximum protection and insurance on stored precious metals for annual fees.
- Precious metal IRAs – Rather than taking personal possession, bullion can be stored with IRA custodians for tax and estate planning benefits.
For most investors new to precious metals, starting out with dealer storage accounts, third party vaulting services, or a precious metal IRA simplifies storage until sufficient assets justify setting up personal secured storage.
Precious Metal ETFs and Mining Stocks
In addition to physical bullion like coins and bars, some investors prefer gaining exposure to precious metals prices through:
Precious metal ETFs – Exchange traded funds like GLD and SLV hold physical gold and silver bullion respectively on behalf of shareholders. They aim to closely track the metals spot prices.
Precious metal mining stocks – Shares of companies that actively mine gold, silver, platinum, and palladium deposits. Miners provide leveraged exposure to metal prices.
Precious metal mutual funds/ETFs – These funds invest in a basket of precious metal mining stocks, providing diversified exposure to producers.
These securities generally do not entail direct ownership of physical metals. However, they provide potentially more convenient and liquid exposure to precious metal prices than bullion itself.
Constructing a Precious Metals Portfolio
When building precious metals exposure, investors should aim for reasonable diversification and risk management:
- Diversify by metal – Consider holding at least two or three of gold, silver, platinum palladium rather than just gold alone for example.
- Blend physical and securities – Combining coins/bars with mining stocks and ETFs balances risk versus return.
- Control allocation size – Limit total precious metals exposure to 10% or less for most investors given volatility.
- Manage position sizes – For physical bullion, keep each coin or bar purchase to 5% or less of the total metal allocation to maintain diversity.
- Use tax advantaged accounts – Place precious metals stocks/ETFs into IRAs and bullion into gold IRAs to maximize tax efficiency.
- Rebalance over time – Revisit allocations periodically and rebalance to maintain target exposures to each metal.
With prudent diversification and risk management, a reasonable precious metals allocation can potentially enhance portfolio returns over the long run.
Strategies for Buying Precious Metal Bullion
Investors building new exposure to physical precious metals should implement savvy purchasing strategies:
- Cost average over time – Rather than buying a full position at once, take a staged approach spreading purchases out over weeks/months to lower risk.
- Buy dips aggressively – When metals experience sharper selloffs of 10% or more, consider making larger tactical purchases to lower cost basis.
- Favor lower premiums – When comparing similar products like 1 oz gold Eagles, go with the dealer charging the lowest premium over spot price.
- Focus on recognizable products – Opt for coins and bars from major sovereign mints that are easy to authenticate and highly liquid.
- Compare storage costs – Weigh fees of self storage, safe deposit boxes, or allocated accounts when selecting storage approaches.
- Use IRA accounts for large holdings – Once holdings become substantial, shift them into precious metal IRAs to gain tax advantages and estate planning benefits.
- Monitor macro environment – Follow monetary policy, inflation trends, market volatility that may influence metals prices when timing purchases.
Strategies for Selling Precious Metal Bullion
When liquidating precious metal holdings, investors should employ savvy sales approaches:
- Sell in tranches – Similar to buying, liquidate holdings in multiple smaller sales over a period rather than all at once to lower risks.
- Sell into rallies – Look for sharp 10-20% metals price spikes to trim positions at favorable peaks rather than during selloffs.
- Compare dealer buyback offers – Shop dealer quotes to find the highest buyback price when selling coins or bars. Premiums and spreads vary.
- Assess tax implications – For large realized gains, it may be best to sell over multiple tax years to spread out tax liability.
- Review macro environment – Consider economic trends influencing metals when timing sales, like rising real interest rates or weakening inflation.
- Monitor portfolio allocations – Rebalance back to target allocations when bullion appreciates substantially relative to original holdings.
- Transition to securities – Rather than selling entirely, investors can shift a portion to miners/ETFs to retain exposure.
Astute purchase and liquidation strategies help maximize returns when investing in physical precious metal bullion over the long run.
Current Outlook for Precious Metals
Given high inflation and the threat of recession, precious metals could potentially continue appreciating:
- Inflation hedge – If high inflation lingers, hard assets like gold and silver are likely to be sought after as inflation hedges.
- Market volatility – Equity market turbulence often increases haven demand for precious metals that can rise when stocks fall.
- Weakening dollar – Dollar weakness makes gold/silver cheaper for foreign buyers, supporting demand and prices.
- Central bank buying – Central banks are continuing to buy gold aggressively to diversify away from dollars and euros.
- Geopolitical instability – Wars, sanctions, trade conflicts frequently boost metals demand. Recent geopolitical tensions remain elevated today.
However, there are also risks to outlooks:
- Recession – Severe recessions dampen industrial/investment demand for precious metals.
- Rising yields – Higher real yields increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold and silver.
- Profit taking – After multi-year rallies, investors may continue selling bullion to take profits.
Overall, maintaining reasonably sized precious metals allocations with periodic rebalancing seems prudent at this stage of economic cycles.
With economic uncertainty lingering and inflation running high, interest in physical precious metal investing has accelerated. But buying gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion requires finding a trusted dealer and understanding factors like pricing, storage, and macro environment trends.
By picking reputable retailers, opting for recognizable coins/bars, and implementing savvy purchasing strategies, retail investors can prudently build exposure to physical precious metals. Maintaining reasonable allocation sizes with diversity across metals and security holdings will allow bullion to serve as an effective portfolio diversifier and inflation hedge.
Yet investing in precious metals differs fundamentally from stocks and bonds. Continuously learning about macro drivers impacting metals, keeping abreast of geopolitical risks, studying supply/demand fundamentals, and monitoring leading indicators for inflation and currency strength that may influence prices is essential to become an informed investor.
With education, discipline around position sizing, and periodic rebalancing, physical gold, silver, platinum and palladium can potentially enhance overall portfolio returns during periods of market turbulence. But investors need to be cautious and conduct thorough due diligence when getting started buying bullion from dealers while also managing risks.
Precious Metals Investing FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about investing in precious metals and purchasing bullion:
What is the safest way to buy gold?
For retail investors, reputable online dealers provide a safe way to buy gold coins and bars. Stick to established dealers with strong reviews and customer satisfaction. For large long term holdings, precious metals IRAs can provide added security and tax benefits.
Are gold/silver bars a good investment?
Gold and silver bars can be prudent investments as part of a diversified portfolio allocation to hard assets. Opt for highly liquid, recognizable bar brands that are easier to authenticate and sell when the time comes. Favor lower premium options.
What percentage of net worth should be in precious metals?
A 5-10% allocation to precious metals and miners is reasonable for most investors. Conservative investors may favor the lower end while more aggressive investors can go with 10% or slightly above. Limiting exposure is prudent given volatility.
What is the most trusted gold coin?
For retail bullion investing, the American Gold Eagle coin is highly trusted and recognized globally. As legal tender gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint, Gold Eagles are backed by the U.S. government for weight, content, and purity.
Is it better to buy ETFs or physical metals?
This depends on personal preferences. ETFs like GLD provide efficient exposure to gold prices without storage burdens. But physical coin ownership ensures direct access to the metals themselves if ever needed. Blending ETFs with a core physical bullion position can balance pros and cons of each approach.
What happens if I buy precious metals and prices fall?
Consider any precious metals allocation as a long-term holding, similar to bonds and stocks that often see price declines from time to time. With periodic rebalancing and prudent position sizing, the impact of price weakness in any given year can be minimized within an overall diversified portfolio.
How do I get started buying physical precious metals?
Choose 2-4 highly rated dealers to compare product selection and premiums. Stick with popular coins and bars that are easy to authenticate. Start small with lower risk purchase amounts as you get familiar with pricing. Over time, gradually build up exposure using dollar cost averaging strategies.
Should I store precious metals at home?
For security, storing substantial precious metals at home is risky, especially for inexperienced investors. Safe deposit boxes have limitations. Consider starting with dealer storage accounts, vaulting services, or a precious metals IRA until holdings are significant enough to justify installing a high-quality personal safe at home.