Fun fact: the word "silver" comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word, seolfor, which just means "metal." But the Ag used on the periodic table? That comes from the Latin argentum.
Silver has been a safe-haven asset for thousands of years, whether in silver bars or silver coins. Like gold, it retains its value regardless of how the market is going. Out of curiosity, though, what was the highest spot price of silver on record?
While silver cost has always been relatively high, the market bumps it up even higher every now and then. Let's take a look at its history and see when silver had its biggest heyday.
What Is a Spot Price?
In the investing world, the phrase "spot price" gets a lot of usage without much explanation. Spot price refers to the actual, current price of a thing (currencies, commodities, stocks, bonds, etc.) on the market.
Spot price is ephemeral, the "right-now" price is subject to change. You wouldn't refer to spot price when discussing the average worth of something in a general sense.
Like stocks, bonds, and anything else, it's important to time when you buy gold and silver. Buying during a bear market would be ideal when prices are low. Then, you just wait a few years for things to recover and for your investment to regain its value.
So when we ask what the highest price of silver was, we're referring to a temporary spot price. Even if the price lasted all of 2 seconds, it still counts as the highest price ever.
What Was the Highest Price of Silver Ever?
Silver has been very high in recent years, keeping above $20 per ounce for several years in a row. Some speculate that it may reach over $100 per ounce, though many critics disagree with this assessment.
Historically, though, valuable silver has climbed even higher. It was in the 1980s when it achieved just under $50. To be precise, about $49.45 per troy ounce on January 18th, 1980.
Sadly, this price increase was not organic. The Hunt Brothers created the surge when they bought silver and silver futures en masse to drive up the price. They were able to do this because, well, they owned a third of the world's private, non-governmental silver supply.
This short all-time high led to a massive, legendary collapse a couple of months later on March 27th. Experts named it "Silver Thursday," in lieu of the Great Depression's "Black Thursday."eal gold and silver bars for your future. Pick up our investor's guide to master the art of investing in precious metals.
Will Silver Bars Ever Climb So High Again?
The Hunt Brothers' scheme was notorious and rocked the investing world. They did not get off lightly. Years of investigations and hearings transpired, and they paid millions in damages for their deeds.
Silver won't see such a surge again unless the silver supply runs dangerously low. However, there's nothing stopping silver from keeping a high price for a few years, as it is experiencing at the current moment.
You should still buy silver as an investment because, again, it keeps a persistent value when all else loses it. The Hunt Brothers did not ruin the value of the metal forever after their conniving plot. Silver evened back out over time, as it always has.
What Affects Silver Cost?
Silver, like gold, isn't just valuable because it shines and looks pretty. Beyond jewelry, we use it to make electronics of all kinds. Open your phone, car, or television, and you'll find several silver wires and components.
Silver's price depends on a complex relationship between demand, supply from mines, recycling efforts, and more. The most valuable silver days might be short-lived, but they happen from a confluence of these elements. Let's take a look at the most influential factors one by one.
Supply and Demand
Supply and demand affect the price of everything from bread to silver. Supply of silver is more or less consistent. Mines around the world, from Russia to Mexico, produce enough of it to keep the price stable.
Demand is the most impactful factor of the two. The vast majority of silver sees use in industrial applications, such as the electronics we mentioned earlier. New technologies and product lines that rely on it to function could drive the price up higher than usual.
Recycling efforts may also have an impact. In order to become carbon-zero, some large companies are deciding to recycle silver rather than purchase it from mines and processors. This puts less silver in circulation and drops the price.
Value of the U.S. Dollar
The U.S. dollar is the world's "gold standard" when it comes to trade. If the dollar falls in value, so do the commodities it underpins. Silver suffers in tandem with the dollar's decline.
Inflation is when currency loses its value due to prices going up and there being too much currency in circulation. Inflation is a given. Every year, we see about 2-3%.
Granted, silver, gold, and precious metals do, again, keep their value well over time. Inflation will, however, lead to an impact on its current spot price.
Aside from being an investment and industrial material, silver is a luxury. A significant portion of silver's value has to do with its usage in jewelry, silver bars, silver coins, and other luxury items.
Luxuries don't do as well during times of economic uncertainty. People tighten their belts and reduce discretionary spending. There's less to go around, especially for non-essentials like precious metals.
Not all silver is equal. The most valuable silver is 99.99% pure, featuring only trace amounts of impurities.
The silver pricing on the market will depend on which type of silver you are looking at. Low-grade silver naturally won't have the same value as the sort you'd use in fine jewelry and investment bars.
Invest With the United States Gold Bureau
Silver bars have always fluctuated by small amounts in price, but what was the highest price ever? It was in the year 1980 when it reached almost $50. This was a fluke, but silver keeps a consistent value dependent on common economic factors.
The United States Gold Bureau helps you invest in real gold and silver bars for your future. Pick up our investor's guide to master the art of investing in precious metals.