Transactions involving precious metals have always involved special measures because of the need to protect both buyer and seller, and to ensure that lesser metals are not palmed off as gold and silver by a cunning trickster. There has often been an element of danger associated with substances so valuable – conveys bearing these metals from the mines were guarded by spearmen, crossbowmen, or musketeers, to prevent bold attackers from carrying off the treasure. Goldsmiths fortified their houses, and ordinary people relied on market weighers paid by the local lord to ensure that authentic bullion was being used for transactions.
Today’s threats are more civilized and less immediately hazardous, but you still need to protect yourself from potential scams, sellers of counterfeits, and so on by carrying on as much silver buying as possible through solid, reputable sources with an unimpeachable reputation for honesty. Fortunately, it is not too difficult to figure out which services are reliable and which are a bit “shaky”.
APMEX, the American Precious Metals Exchange, is one of the world’s foremost sources for silver coins from the United States and most international mints as well, plus silver bars, silver rounds, and some miscellaneous silver from banks and private minting companies.
APMEX’s Credentials and Professionalism
A laundry list of credentials is not everything in the precious metals market – for example, many individual collectors are highly scrupulous people whose contributions to your collection can be trusted even though they lack any kind of official “blessing”.
Nevertheless, credentials and a professional reputation from your source is always welcome, especially when you are buying in bulk and do not want the bother of verifying every detail of the supplier’s background. APMEX meets these expectations very well indeed, and is one of the most trustworthy companies in the silver business today.
APMEX is one of the firms which has been accepted by the U.S. Mint to purchase and distribute its annual production of Silver Eagles and five ounce silver America the Beautiful quarters. This alone is a sterling recommendation (which is a rather painful pun, but is also fitting), since a very rigorous process is undertaken before the Treasury will entrust its silver bullion coinage to a private distributor. It is a testament to the integrity, experience, and long history of silver trading that APMEX can lay claim to.
The Oklahoma company is also a member of several esteemed precious metals organizations, including the Industry Council on Tangible Assets and the American Numismatic Association, both highly respected bodies. They also have close ties with several of America’s prime grading services.
Beyond all these professional recommendations, however, APMEX has a large body of extremely satisfied customers to vouch for its quality. I myself have bought from APMEX on quite a few occasions, and have never found their service to be anything but fast, reliable, and well worthy of the customer’s confidence. Their products have always been high quality and well authenticated, and their customer service – on the occasions when I needed help – was prompt and found solutions quickly.
Coins, Bars, and Rounds at APMEX
One of the pleasant features of APMEX is that the firm both offers a colossal selection of coins, bars, and rounds, but that in most cases it permits you to buy anywhere from one coin to many hundreds, depending on your budget and wishes. There is a $50 minimum order, but this is not too hard to reach, since a typical silver bullion coin sells for $40 or more.
The combination of a vast selection – numbering well into the thousands of different kinds of coins – and a very low minimum order means that small buyers, such as someone who wants to buy two or three coins every couple of weeks, can participate in the silver market through APMEX. The more people are interested in silver, the more liquid an asset it will be, since there is a broader base of potential buyers and sellers to stimulate the market.
Conversely, large coin collectors are not neglected either, since a good discount on premium over spot can be obtained by purchasing more than a certain number of a specific kind of coin.
APMEX’s range of coins is quite catholic in its variety, with coins not only from the United States of America itself but also other popular coins, bars, and rounds – such as Chinese Silver Pandas, Australian Kangaroos, and Canadian Silver Maple Leaves – and even obscure or exotic items – such as Somalian Silver African Wildlife Series coins.
Added to this plethora of official government coins is a very robust selection of silver rounds and bars, produced by a number of different minting sources – APMEX itself, the notorious Credit Suisse bank, Sunshine Minting, Inc., and Silvertowne, to name but a few. Some well liked but out of production silver rounds or bars are also for sale at APMEX.
APMEX’s Low Premiums Above Spot and Payment Policies
APMEX is worthy of serious consideration by all modern coin and precious metal bullion investors because it offers low premiums above spot in many cases. Highly collectible coins, of course, will have a larger premium to reflect their considerably higher value, but for most coins and bars, premium above spot is as good as any other company offers, and better than some.
The premiums charged for silver rounds and silver bars are even lower than those on coins, since the value of these silver items is much closer to that of the same weight of raw bullion. Shipping charges are quite reasonable, even internationally, though there is a $1,500 minimum purchase for overseas orders. The silver is shipped in the safest way possible – in a perfectly ordinary, plain, nondescript box that looks exactly like millions of others that move through the USPS and UPS systems every day.
APMEX is quite a bit more flexible about payment methods than other silver and gold suppliers, since they will readily accept credit cards. A slightly higher premium is charged when you use a credit card, and you will need to make a down payment on large orders placed through this method, but these are reasonable precautions considering the slightly greater risk APMEX is taking on in order to accept “plastic”. Cashier’s checks and wire transfers are also gladly accepted, of course.
Obviously, the company needs to make a profit, and so there will always be at least some premium above the current spot price of silver or gold. Nevertheless, APMEX goes out of its way to make its service attractive to buyers by offering occasional sales which cut premiums back to a bare minimum on certain specified silver and gold products.
Other Services that APMEX Provides
Another strongly positive feature of APMEX is that its website offers a number of services for free, which are highly useful to precious metal investors, buyers, and collectors. One such are charts showing the current spot price for the four main metals – gold, silver, platinum, and palladium – as well as the direction of change (up or down). Accompanying charts show the 24-hour price of gold, and it is easy to find up to the minute market data on the other metals with just a few clicks.
The APMEX website also features thoughtful, frequently updated articles describing news items that are likely to produce effects on the silver, gold, and other precious metals markets, ranging from specific events in those markets to major economic problems, such as the Greek credit crisis which is underway as of this writing.
Other conveniences include free downloadable apps for Android, iPhone, and Blackberry, which give you the information needed to track precious metal prices as well as buying and selling these commodities from any location where you can get a signal. Market alerts (again, free), a telephone line to help you set up a Precious Metals IRA, and other features show that APMEX is a company willing to do extra work simply to give their clients and visitors as much utility from their site as possible.
APMEX has a toll free (800) number offering you information on your orders as well as some precious metal advice and information. The company accepts orders twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – a boon for those whose job schedule does not allow them to call or use the firm’s website during normal working hours.
APMEX Conclusion: One of the World’s Best Silver Dealers
It is worth repeating that APMEX is one of the world’s finest sources of silver, gold, and other precious metals, regardless of whether you are in the United States or outside it, and regardless of your budget for buying these inflation hedges and investments. With its extremely varied selection, coverage of all the world’s major bullion coin releases, numerous rounds and bars, fast service, reasonable premiums, and the highly detailed information available on its site, APMEX offers everything that any other silver seller does, with a style, thoroughness, and professionalism that is all its own.