Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, have existed since 1993, although it took 15 more years for the first actively managed ETF to reach the market.

Since then, ETFs have risen in popularity, in large part because they are a cheaper investment option than traditional mutual funds. Today a huge number of ETFs are in play, and they focus on a variety of spaces, from derivatives, to bonds, to commodities.

Within the commodities space are silver ETFS, and investors interested in these have many options to choose from. For instance, some ETFs focus solely on physical silver, while others focus on silver futures. Still others focus on the silver-mining industry itself.

In order to determine which silver ETF will best suit their needs, investors should examine the options available to them. Here’s a brief look at five silver ETFs that may be worth considering.

1. iShares Silver Trust (ARCA:SLV)

As the iShares Silver Trust’s website warns, it is not your standard ETF. Why? Put simply, the iShares Silver Trust is not an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 or a commodity pool under the Commodity Exchange Act. Further, its shares aren’t subject to the regulatory requirements that apply to mutual funds.

Investors who are not put off by those conditions may find the iShares Silver Trust appealing. It uses the LBMA silver price as its benchmark and holds silver bullion – 9,847.08 tonnes, to be exact. Its net asset value clocks in at $5,202,738,277, and since its inception it has achieved an average annual return of 2.31 percent for its investors.

2. Sprott Physical Silver Trust (ARCA:PSLV)

The Sprott Physical Silver Trust is also different from a typical ETF. It’s geared at investors interested in holding physical silver, and has a total net asset value of $931,883,346.

Silver held by the Sprott Physical Silver Trust is stored at a secure third-party location in Canada, and is subject to periodic inspections. Investors who own a certain value equivalent in dollars can redeem their units for physical silver each month, and it can be delivered nearly anywhere in the world via armored carrier. The Sprott Physical Silver Trust only invests in London Good Delivery physical silver bullion, less 3 percent of net assets devoted to expenses and anticipated redemptions.

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3. Horizons COMEX Silver ETF (TSX:HUZ)

Established in June 2009, the Horizons COMEX Silver ETF seeks to deliver to investors results that mirror the performance of the COMEX silver futures contract for the subsequent delivery month. The silver ETF is denominated in Canadian dollars, and for that reason can in most cases hedge any US dollar gains and losses back into Canadian dollars.

The Horizons COMEX Silver ETF manages $21,064,206 in assets, and its three-year return on investments is -0.54 percent. Its management fee is 0.65 percent, and its portfolio exposure is currently entirely in silver.

4. Global X Silver Miners ETF (ARCA:SIL)

The Global X Silver Miners ETF gives investors access to many silver-mining companies and benefits from the fact that those companies can enjoy quick gains when the price of the metal is rising. Given that it provides exposure to a basket of global silver miners, it also allows investors to avoid the risks associated with individual companies and lets them add geographical diversity to their portfolios.

The silver ETF’s annualized return since inception amounts to -3.98 percent at the market price of silver.

5. PureFunds ISE Junior Silver ETF (ARCA:SILJ)

The PureFunds ISE Junior Silver ETF bills itself as “the first pure-play ETF that exclusively aims to hold silver explorers and junior silver producers.” The index provides a benchmark for investors to track public small-cap companies in the silver space.

The company’s investments span Canada, the US and the UK, with major holdings including Endeavour Silver (TSX:EDR,NYSE:EXK), First Majestic Silver (TSX:FR,NYSE:AG) and Fortuna Silver Mines (TSX:FVI,NYSE:FSM).

Which – if any – of these silver ETFs would you invest in? Let us know in the comments.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2014.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.