5 Best Silver ETFs for the Market's 'Runner-Up' Metal

Silver will always sit in gold's media shadow, but silver ETFs can help you enjoy runs of outperformance.

Silver coins and bullion
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Silver might never hold a candle to gold. But that doesn't mean you can't put it to good use in your portfolio.

Between 2018 and 2021, silver gained 52% in price, beating gold by more than 10 percentage points and providing wind beneath the wings of silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs). But given the metal's second-class status, it's possible this is the first you've heard about its solid outperformance.

How much do people look down upon silver? Olympians who win bronze medals tend to exhibit more happiness (opens in new tab) than the silver medalists sitting a step higher on the podium.

OK, silver is far more popular among investors than bronze, but it still doesn't come close to ol' Element 79. Consider that the iShares Silver Trust (SLV (opens in new tab)), the largest silver ETF on the market at $12.7 billion in assets under management, is a little more than a fifth of the size of the $60 billion SPDR Gold Shares (GLD (opens in new tab)). Fewer silver funds are vying for those assets, too.

Still, there are several reasons to consider investing in silver, even if it's just a small allocation.

"While gold tends to get the most attention, silver, along with platinum and palladium, is also an important piece of a precious metals portfolio," says Charles Sizemore, principal of Sizemore Capital Management. "While silver also has more industrial uses, and is thus somewhat sensitive to the economic cycle, it has also been a viable inflation hedge over time."

Several tailwinds are conspiring to lift silver even higher in 2022.

"The silver market has rebalanced on production discipline and demand from new applications including solar panels," say BofA Securities strategists, who add that more solar panels could drive silver higher, as could a general return to industrial demand if and when COVID wanes.

Here are five silver ETFs to buy if you're bullish on this often-snubbed metal.

Data is as of Feb. 10.

Kyle Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of Young and The Invested (opens in new tab), a site dedicated to improving the personal finances and financial literacy of parents and children. He also writes the weekly The Weekend Tea (opens in new tab) newsletter, which covers both news and analysis about spending, saving, investing, the economy and more.

Kyle was previously the Senior Investing Editor for Kiplinger.com, and the Managing Editor for InvestorPlace.com before that. His work has appeared in several outlets, including Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, Barchart, The Globe & Mail and the Nasdaq. He also has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, among other shows and podcasts, and he has been quoted in several outlets, including MarketWatch, Vice and Univision. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism. 

You can check out his thoughts on the markets (and more) at @KyleWoodley (opens in new tab).