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Precious Metals Interest Surges, Buyers Face Important Storage Choices

Isaac Nuriani    |
Jan 8, 2021

Following a 2020 that saw gold climb 25% and silver jump 47%, both metals have continued to demonstrate real strength at the beginning of the new year.

Gold recently shot back above 1,900 dollars per ounce and silver again moved above 27 dollars per ounce (although some profit-taking on Friday saw both metals slide backward some). Since December 2018, when the current precious metals bull market began in earnest, gold is up nearly 52% and silver up roughly 75%. And there’s no shortage of projections that suggest the good times for both metals will continue at least into 2021. Indeed, some experts are forecasting that both gold and silver will reach new all-time price highs this year.[1]

Given the robust environment for gold and silver right now, you can bet that metals are on the mind of a lot of folks. A New York Times article published last July shared the results of one survey that revealed roughly one-half of all Americans “are seriously thinking about buying gold.”[2]

That’s a lot of potential precious metals owners. And, as that same Times article points out, the prospect of so many people buying gold (and silver) highlights a related issue few purchasers consider until they must: storage.

Physical precious metals take up space. And if you own sizable quantities, they can take up a lot of space. Complicating storage considerations is the obvious fact that precious metals are very valuable. So it’s not enough to merely find room for your gold and silver. You have to be certain the place you store them is appropriately secure, as well.

If you have a gold IRA, there’s really only one choice to keep you in compliance: an official, secure depository. If you you’re buying precious metals outside of an IRA (in a “cash account”), there are three places that seem to be popular as storage locations for metals: at home, a bank safe deposit box, and a precious metals depository. For cash account holders who believe they’re better served by keeping their gold and silver close at hand, the first two options may seem especially appealing. But there are significant potential disadvantages to stashing your stash at your home or at the bank down the street. As for the depository option, you may not have envisioned keeping your gold and silver tucked away at a Fort Knox-like facility. However, for non-IRA account holders, it could prove to be your storage location of choice once you learn more about the benefits of keeping your metals there.

Precious Metals Storage Option: Home

With the home storage option, cash account holders own their metals in the most absolute sense. They are on your property and therefore under your control and within your reach 24 hours a day. In terms of certainty of ownership, there’s no better choice.

But home storage of physical gold and silver outside of an IRA is not without potential hassles. For example, if you need to raise cash, it can be inconvenient to liquidate your metals, especially if you must do so in a hurry. You’ll be responsible for the shipment of the gold and silver to the dealer for liquidation, including arranging insurance coverage for the metals while they’re en route. The ultimate responsibility for overseeing the transportation and liquidation process falls to you.

A possibly burdensome liquidation process can be annoying. But there are far bigger concerns related to keeping your metals at your residence, such as the risk of loss or theft.

If you do decide to store your metals at home, make sure you’ve updated your homeowners insurance coverage appropriately. Note that standard coverage limits for precious metals typically are very low – 1,000 dollars or less. You’ll want to be certain you’re adequately covered with something like an add-on floater policy. Consult with your agent to determine the best way to insure the gold and silver you keep at home

But even if you have sufficient insurance coverage for your non-IRA gold and silver, that doesn’t eliminate the risks you could be injured – or worse – in an attempted robbery of your valuables.

In a November 2017 article for Forbes, Olivier Garret wrote that as CEO of the Hard Assets Alliance, he had numerous clients whose home-stored metals were stolen.[3]  He underscored that, in many cases, the perpetrators turned out to be family members who had foreknowledge of the gold and silver. He even references clients who were robbed at gunpoint of their metals. The bottom line is that if you do store metals at home, you probably should tell as few people as possible.

Those closest to you don’t necessarily pose a direct threat. But you have no control over what they may say inadvertently to others who exist outside of your inner circle.

In my opinion, any gold and silver stored at your home should be limited to a modest amount. For more substantial quantities, I think there’s a better option: depository storage, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Precious Metals Storage Option: Bank Safe Deposit Box

One of the popular options for metals storage outside of an IRA is the bank safe deposit box. A safe deposit box located deep behind the walls of a bank implies anything stored in it enjoys rock-solid protection. That’s not necessarily the case, however.

A 2019 New York Times article highlights perhaps the biggest problem for bank safe deposit box customers:[4]  Even though the deposit boxes are located inside the physical bank, there are effectively no laws that govern them or otherwise provide any protection to box owners. The standard Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance that protects financial deposits does not apply to safe deposit box contents. Moreover, there is no bank or government insurance of any kind that covers deposit boxes. Safe deposit boxes live within a “legal gray zone within the highly regulated banking industry,” the Times article points out, adding that “no rules require banks to compensate customers if their property is stolen or destroyed.”

Another potential problem concerns the accessibility of your metals in the event a serious financial crisis results in the closure of your bank. Granted, the contents of your safe deposit box are separate from the bank’s assets. But the practical reality is that if the bank branch at which your box is located is shuttered, it could be difficult – or even impossible – to retrieve your gold and silver.

Still, keeping your gold and silver in a bank safe deposit box might make sense for you in select circumstances, depending on your specific goals and objectives for your precious metals cash account. If you DO decide to store your precious metals in one, look into purchasing insurance coverage for the box. Speak with your insurance agent beforehand about adding a rider to your existing homeowner’s policy that will cover the value of the box’s contents.

Precious Metals Storage Option: Depository

In my opinion, keeping gold and silver in a non-bank precious metals depository is the best overall option for storing metals assets, whether you have gold and silver in an IRA or in a cash account.

Because precious metals depositories are not banks, you run none of the risks associated with keeping your metals in a bank safe deposit box. Beyond that, depositories are highly secure entities that provide a variety of protections on behalf of customer assets. The most recognizable names in precious metals depositories, such as Delaware Depository, offer state-of-the-art physical security on behalf of customer gold and silver.[5]

In addition to the robust physical security measures characteristic of reputable depositories, these facilities typically maintain a variety of stringent internal controls and protocols. Inventories are constantly audited and all computer data is subject to daily backup. Not only that, all customer assets stored at metals depositories are further protected by comprehensive, all-risks insurance policies from such well-known and highly rated insurers as Lloyd’s of London.

There’s something else: If you buy your gold and silver inside of an individual retirement account (IRA), a depository is the only undisputed, standard IRA-compliant location at which you can store your metals. The IRS strictly prohibits self-dealing with IRA assets, and is therefore very particular about the manner in which physical IRA assets such as precious metals are stored. Working with an experienced custodian to store the metals in your gold and silver IRA at a qualified depository is the best way to ensure the regulatory integrity of your retirement account. It might be of value to read more about the best gold IRA companies out there.

Precious Metals Interest and Robust Expectations Could Intensify Storage Needs

As I noted at the outset of this piece, some analysts have very optimistic expectations of both gold and silver heading into 2021. There are a number of projections reflecting opinions that prices for both metals will reach new all-time highs this year. If consumer interest in precious metals continues to grow, more physical gold and silver owners will have to give considerable thought as to where and how they’ll store their valuable assets.


[1] Lizzy Gurdus, CNBC, “Gold to $2,500: Two ETF Analysts Break Down Citi’s Bullish Call for 2021” (November 25, 2020, accessed 1/8/21)  Also: Ole Hanson, Saxo Bank, “Sun Shines on Silver, Which Sizzles on Solar Panel Demand” (December 8, 2020, accessed 1/8/21)

[2] Danielle Braff, The New York Times, “Where Is All That Gold Being Stored?” (July 28, 2020, accessed 1/8/21)

[3] Oliver Garret, Forbes, “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Store Precious Metals Yourself (Hint: It’s More Than the Risk of Theft)” (November 14, 2017, accessed 1/8/21)

[4]  Stacy Cowley, The New York Times, “Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe” (July 19, 2019, accessed 1/8/21)

[5] Delaware Depository website (accessed 1/8/21)

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