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(CNN Business) —  

For someone like me that can’t afford to buy an ounce of gold, would it be just as good owning several ounces of silver vs. a half ounce of gold?

Great question. Gold, trading for more than $1,300 an ounce, is a much pricier investment than silver, which currently costs about $15 an ounce. In other words, you could purchase more than 40 ounces of silver for the same price as one half ounce of gold.

Investors treat gold more like a currency than silver, a metal that has many more industrial uses than gold. So if you want to buy silver, don’t necessarily expect it to perform in tandem with gold.

Silver prices are actually down nearly 25% over the past five years while gold prices have been relatively flat. Silver has been hit harder, because investors are worried about slowing global economic growth. But both metals have undeperformed the broader stock market.

Still, investing experts say that gold, silver and other precious metals like platinum and palladium, could make sense as a small part of a broader investment portfolio.

Many people own them simply to hedge against big pullbacks in stocks. They are also viewed as a good alternative to government-backed currencies – which tend to fluctuate more with central bank decisions on interest rates.

Investors view bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as assets that could behave similarly to gold and silver.

Now that the US Federal Reserve is apparently done raising interest rates for the foreseeable future, that should bode well for gold and silver, when rates are low.

“Metals are set to be primary beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve simply catching up to futures markets priced for easing. Further hikes are unlikely,” said Bloomberg Intelligence senior commodity strategist Mike McGlone in a tweet Friday.

But silver might be more attractive than gold right now – and not just because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to purchase. Many commodities analysts closely follow the ratio of the price of one ounce of gold to one ounce of silver. It’s flashing a buy signal.

“Historically, there have been only a few occasions that the gold-silver ratio traded above 80,” said analysts at Blanchard, a precious metals investing firm in New Orleans, in a recent report.

“The gold/silver ratio stands at 85 right now. That signals that silver is dramatically undervalued,” the Blanchard analysts said.

Silver is trading at historically low levels when compared to gold.
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Silver is trading at historically low levels when compared to gold.

That said, if you are going to buy gold, silver or any other metals, it’s probably easier to do so through an exchange-traded fund that tracks the price of the metal instead of pulling a Scrooge McDuck and actually purchasing bars and coins to swim around in.

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) is one of the largest funds in the world, with about $33 billion in assets.

For silver, there’s the iShares Silver Trust (SLV), which has nearly $5 billion in assets.

And if you’re more comfortable owning stocks instead of metals, there are ETFs for gold (GDX) and silver miners (SIL) as well. The industry is in the midst of a major wave of consolidation and mining stocks could benefit from more merger speculation.

What’s the best way to invest for the long haul? Do you have questions about how to build wealth? Ask us here and you may be included in a future column.