Best Silver ETFs

SIVR, SLV, and DBS are three silver ETFs

Silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs) closely track the price of silver and are generally more liquid than the precious metal itself. Like other precious metals, silver tends to be favored by investors seeking a hedge against inflation or a safe haven in times of market turmoil.

Below, we look at three top silver ETFs, ranked by one-year trailing total returns. All numbers are as of Sept. 6, 2022.

In order to focus on the funds' investment strategy, the main holdings listed for each of the top silver ETFs exclude cash holdings and holdings purchased with securities lending proceeds except in unusual cases, such as when the cash portion is exceptionally large.

Key Takeaways

  • Silver has drastically underperformed the broader equity market over the past year.
  • The three U.S. silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs), ranked according to one-year trailing total returns, are SIVR, SLV, and DBS.
  • The holdings of SIVR and SLV are silver, and the holdings of DBS are silver futures.

Silver ETFs are generally structured as grantor trusts, a typical structure for funds whose assets are a single commodity held physically in a vault. This grantor trust structure means that each share of ownership in the ETF corresponds to a specific quantity of the underlying silver, making silver ETFs a convenient option for investors wanting to own physical bullion without the hassle of insuring and storing the metal themselves.

Note that these ETFs hold silver as a commodity or silver futures, not stocks of companies that mine or process silver.

Three silver ETFs trade in the United States, excluding leveraged and inverse ETFs. These ETFs trade the silver commodity, as opposed to ETFs that trade silver-mining companies. Silver has dramatically underperformed the market in the past year, with the Bloomberg Silver Subindex providing a one-year trailing total return of -26.1% compared with -12.2% for the S&P 500, as of Sept. 2, 2022.

Of the top silver ETFs, the best-performing, based on performance over the past year, is the abrdn Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR).

ETFs with very low assets under management—less than $50 million—usually have lower liquidity than larger ETFs. This can result in higher trading costs that can negate some of your investment gains or increase your losses.

The abrdn Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR)

  • Performance Over One Year: -27.6%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.30%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 503,759
  • Assets Under Management: $835.3 million
  • Inception Date: July 20, 2009
  • Issuer: abrdn PLC

SIVR is a grantor trust that is physically backed by silver bullion held in a vault in London on behalf of investors. Its objective is to track the performance of the price of silver less the expenses of the operations of the trust. The metal’s price is based on the specifications for good delivery outlined by the LBMA, a globally recognized independent metals authority.

Because SIVR holds only physical silver, this fund does not utilize futures contracts. This eliminates the risk of contango and backwardation. Like other silver and precious-metals ETFs, SIVR may be a useful safe haven during market uncertainty, but it may not suit a long-term, buy-and-hold investment strategy. The single holding of SIVR is silver.

The iShares Silver Trust (SLV)

  • Performance Over One Year: -27.7%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.50%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 22,582,836
  • Assets Under Management: $8.4 billion
  • Inception Date: April 21, 2006
  • Issuer: BlackRock Financial Management

SLV is a grantor trust holding physical silver on behalf of investors. It tracks the price set by the LBMA. The fund’s objectives include providing investors with an inflation hedge and exposure to the daily movements of the price of silver bullion.

Because it holds silver instead of futures contracts, the fund is not subject to backwardation or contango. In many aspects, SLV is nearly identical to SIVR above, although SLV levies a higher expense ratio. The single holding of SLV is silver.

The Invesco DB Silver Fund (DBS)

  • Performance Over One Year: -29.8%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.77%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 2,061
  • Assets Under Management: $14.6 million
  • Inception Date: Jan. 5, 2007
  • Issuer: Invesco

DBS is structured as a commodity pool, a private investment tool structured to combine investor contributions for trading futures and commodities markets. Unlike SIVR and SLV, the fund is designed to give investors an easy way to invest in silver futures. Because it is exposed to futures contracts, DBS is subject to backwardation, contango, and other risks associated with futures-backed contracts.

The ETF tracks changes in the DBIQ Optimum Yield Silver Index Excess Return, which is composed of silver futures plus the interest income of the fund’s holdings in U.S. Treasuries and money market securities. The fund’s holdings are silver futures.

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  2. YCharts. “Financial Data.”

  3. abrdn. “abrdn Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR),” Page 1.

  4. VettaFi. “SIVR: abrdn Physical Silver Shares ETF.”

  5. iShares by BlackRock. “SLV: iShares Silver Trust.”

  6. VettaFi. “SLV: iShares Silver Trust.”

  7. Invesco. “Invesco DB Silver Fund: DBS.”

  8. VettaFi. “DBS: Invesco DB Silver Fund.”

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