Part of protecting your precious metal investments involves understanding how to care for them. Too often, customers’ attempts to protect or improve the quality of their bullion can actually accelerate the deterioration of the metal, ultimately lowering its value. Fortunately, customers can preserve the condition of their precious metals through appropriate handling, cleaning and storing. By maintaining their bullion pieces, customers ensure that their value remains consistent enough to yield potential profits.
Proper handling of your precious metals is essential to preserving their condition. It is far easier to keep a coin clean than to restore it once it becomes dirty, and in the event that you are able to restore it, the metal rarely returns to its peak form. It is generally advised to avoid any unnecessary handling of your bullion since there is always a risk of damage. However, on those occasions when you are required to handle them, it is important to know the proper way of doing so.
When handling precious metals, we suggest wearing soft, lint-free cotton gloves since fingerprints, hand moisturizers and your skin’s natural oils can be corrosive to the metal. Do not, however, use latex or plastic gloves. These are coated with powders and lubricants, which can also damage the metal. Plastic tweezers are another good option for those specifically handling coins and rounds. Should you choose to handle these metals with your bare hands, be sure to wash them to ensure that they are free of any dirt or residues. We also recommend using a hand sanitizer to remove any damaging oils from your hands.
Before taking out your precious metals, prepare a space for you to handle them by draping a soft towel or a piece of cloth over your work surface. You need a soft surface to work over in case they drop. When handling coins, rounds or decorative bars, always hold them by their edges. Holding unto their surfaces can damage their design.
If you are handling both pristine and tarnished metals, never handle them together. This prevents contamination. Instead, handle them separately and be sure to clean your hands between each set. Also, resist breathing or talking over the precious metals. The moisture from your breath or saliva can leave spots that are nearly impossible to remove.
There is a common misconception that cleaning your precious metal bullion will help improve its value and condition. This is incorrect on both accounts. Cleaning a coin can actually damage the condition of your collectible, consequently lowering its value. In most cases, collectors would prefer a tarnished well-preserved piece than one that has been subjected to improper cleaning. There are even collectors who collect precious metals based on their toning or discoloration. So as a general note, attempting to clean your precious metals yourself can prove detrimental to your investment.
For those who still wish to clean their bullion, we recommend performing this task on only the most superficial level in order to protect the precious metals. Simply wash your bullion in mild soap and water. Be sure to rinse your bullion thoroughly to avoid any soap residue. Do not attempt to use any specially formulated polishes or cleaners as these have an acidic component that will corrode the surface of the metal. Once you have washed them, gently pat them dry with a soft cloth or towel. Any aggressive rubbing will lead to scratches on the coins surface. Let them completely dry before storing or displaying to prevent any trapped moisture.
When deciding how to display your gold and silver bullion, it is important to choose cases that will not contribute to the deterioration of the bullion’s metal. For instance, as organized and attractive as your coins may appear in the plastic sleeves of a binder or album, they could eventually become discolored since these plastic sleeves are not airtight and can potentially trap moisture. Similarly, plastic or PVC containers and bags release acidic gases that can contribute to the corrosion of certain metals.
The best containers for your precious metals are those which are airtight or made with natural materials. Some options include airtight protective coin slabs or lined wooden boxes. Those wishing to display their collectibles may use wooden shadowboxes with a glass display panel. For coin collectors who like the organization of a binder or album, there is also the option of choosing those with cardboard folders or slots as opposed to plastic sleeves.
Equally as important as the storage container is the way in which you store the metals inside them. Never store tarnished metals with untarnished ones. As with handling, their interaction could lead to contamination. Also, try to avoid placing your bullion in a haphazard manner that can result in them rubbing against each other since this can lead to friction marks. Instead, stack them in piles or separate them with plain cardboard sheets or other non-reactive material. Lastly, some metals may benefit from packs of silica gel to prevent tarnishing.