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Hand-poured silver vs cast silver image

Hand-Poured Silver vs. Cast Silver—What’s the Difference?

John-Rothans

Written by John Rothans

Mar 29, 2024

A fundamental step in learning how to buy silver is knowing how different types of silver are made. Two common types of silver are hand-poured silver and cast silver. They are both silver products, but this comparison explains how they differ in the manufacturing process and why it matters.

Understanding Cast Silver

The Process of Casting Silver Bars

Cast silver bars are created using solid silver and specialized tools that allow the silver to set into a desired shape. The process for casting silver bars is as follows:

  • A silver ingot is placed in an enclosed mold.
  • The mold is then heated.
  • The mold is allowed to cool so the silver can take the shape of the mold.
  • The silver is removed from the mold and finished.

Casting is often used in the production of silver bullion bars, a popular choice for people interested in diversifying their precious metals portfolio beyond gold.

Characteristics of Cast Silver Bars

Certain characteristics of cast silver bars set them apart from other silver products. These are the physical traits you’ll observe when purchasing cast silver bars:

  • Polished appearance—cast silver is finished with a shiny, polished surface.
  • Smooth surface—the surface of cast silver is very smooth.
  • Consistently perfect—because the casting of silver is a very controlled process, cast silver is very consistent and comes out looking as expected nearly every time.

Pros and Cons of Cast Silver Bars

As with any asset, there may be pros and cons to purchasing cast silver bars. On the pro side, cast silver is readily available and easy to both purchase and sell. However, this wide availability may reduce growth potential compared to silver products whose market price is partly based on scarcity.

Exploring Hand-Poured Silver

How Hand-Poured Silver Bars Are Made

While similar to cast silver bars, hand-poured silver bars have their own unique characteristics that may interest buyers, beginning with how they are produced:

  • The silver is melted down to a molten state.
  • The molten silver is poured from a crucible into a mold.
  • The silver is left in the mold to cool and harden.
  • Once the silver hardens, it is removed from the mold and cleaned.

Like the molds for cast silver bars, the molds used for hand-poured silver are usually in the shape of rectangular bars.

When you shop for silver, one consideration you may wish to keep in mind is the process by which each product is created, as this contributes to the unique physical qualities of each.

Qualities of Hand-Poured Silver Bars

Hand-poured silver bars have certain characteristics resulting from their production process—one of several factors that make hand-poured silver bars unique.

Because they are hand-poured and cool quickly, silver bars aren’t perfectly shaped. You may see pour lines, air bubbles, ripples, or uneven surfaces. The height of each hand-poured silver bar may also differ, even when the same amount of silver is used. These inconsistencies are expected, and to many people, they are what gives hand-poured silver bars their appeal.

Once hand-poured silver bars have cooled, they usually have soft edges. The finish of the bars will also be dull, not shiny like cast silver bars.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hand-Poured Silver Bars

Like any asset, hand-poured silver bars can have advantages and disadvantages. One factor working in their favor is that hand-poured silver bars are popular in the precious metals world. People like that each bar is unique and different.

A potential downside of owning hand-poured silver bars comes as a result of their uniqueness. Hand-poured silver bars can carry a higher price tag than cast silver bars of the same weight, and their unique sizes and shapes can make price determinations more difficult (compared to cast silver bars) if and when you decide to sell.

Appearance and Texture

Visual Differences Between Cast and Hand-Poured Silver Bars

The casting and hand-pouring processes for producing silver bars lead to very different results with clear visual variations. While cast silver is perfectly shiny and smooth, the inconsistencies in hand-poured silver bars stand out. Hand-poured bars are also less polished in appearance.

Texture Variances in Cast and Hand-Poured Silver Bars

Texture is another way that cast silver and hand-poured silver bars differ. Cast silver bars are much smoother and more consistent in appearance from bar to bar than hand-poured silver bars. Hand-poured silver bars, by comparison, may have a very rough texture and display imperfections on the surface.

Purity

Purity Levels in Cast vs. Hand-Poured Silver Bars

When purchasing precious metals, buyers often carefully consider purity. The purity of cast or hand-poured silver bars depends on the raw materials used in their production, rather than the production process itself. However, because hand-poured silver bars are created in an open mold, there may be some potential for contamination, which would slightly reduce the bars’ purity.

Usually, cast silver is 99.9% pure, also known as 999. The silver used for hand-poured bars is also 99.9% pure.

Consistency of Weight and Shape

The weight and shape of a silver bar depends on how it is made. Cast silver versus hand-poured silver is a perfect example.

The process of making hand-poured silver bars isn’t exact. Each bar is slightly different, so there’s no true consistency in the weight and shape from bar to bar. Cast silver bars, on the other hand, are very consistent with regard to weight and shape since the mold used in their production is fully enclosed. Each bar of cast silver made using the same mold will be the same weight and shape.

Collectability Benefits

Collectors’ Preferences for Cast vs. Hand-Poured Silver Bars

Which type of silver do collectors and those who study numismatics prefer? For collectors, the fact that each hand-poured silver bar is one of a kind can be very enticing. Since no two hand-poured silver bars are ever alike, their unique appearances can make them more appealing than cast silver bars, which do not vary in appearance between those created with the same mold.

This greater appeal from collectors may also support higher prices and greater growth potential for hand-poured silver vs. cast silver bars.

Market Price

The way a precious metals product is produced can affect its market price. In terms of cast silver vs. hand-poured silver, the latter tends to have the higher market price.

The price of a silver bar often comes down to its weight, purity, availability, and demand. For example, fewer hand-poured silver bars are made than cast silver bars. And as discussed above, the variations in hand-poured silver bars can also make them more desirable. In some cases, hand-poured silver bars can cost twice as much as cast silver bars produced in larger quantities.

Wealth Protection Potential

Wealth protection potential is another reason to collect silver. It’s the same principle as with other types of precious metals.

Precious metals like silver and gold are seen as hedges against inflation because their prices aren’t tied to the relative strength of the dollar. Silver and other precious metals also tend to increase in price over the long term. You can even open a precious metals IRA to include these alternative assets in your retirement savings.

For more information on using silver or other precious metals for wealth protection, diversification, or as part of your retirement strategy, read through our guide on why to buy silver.

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