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Friday Feature: The Definitive Guide to Buying Gold Bars

June 28, 2019

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Friday Feature: The Definitive Guide to Buying Gold Bars (photo by Michael Steinberg on Pexels)
Originally published by Pete Thomas at linkedin.com on February 25, 2016.

Once you have made the decision to diversify into a hard asset, the first decision becomes which form of gold should I own, Bullion Bar or Coins?

Pete Thomas —

Once you have made the decision to diversify into a hard asset, the first decision becomes which form of gold should I own, Bullion Bar or Coins? All precious metals have a myriad of costs that are associated with their production and delivery to the consumer. For this reason, I’ve outlined the major factors involved in creating what is called the premium, which is the charge over the “spot price”, to the end user.

Here are the factors that contribute to coins and bullion bars that denote the premium over the spot price, and I hope this lends some clarity to this broader side of the metals market.

  1. Fabrication costs (mining, smelting, casting and
  2. Packaging costs, with weighting and quality inspection
  3. Administration costs
  4. Security costs
  5. Storage costs
  6. Marketing
  7. Sales staff
  8. Insurance
  9. Transportation/shipping expenses
  10. Profit margin is figured into all the steps of the supply chain

Coins have the highest premium, as the most fabrication work goes into their creation, and bars have the lowest premium. For these reasons, I’m covering the most inexpensive means to buy and hold gold. Just remember, this also means that when you sell the gold back to a dealer, the premium you receive will be less.

Bullion bars were first cast by the Royal Treasury of Egypt during the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs’ era, by digging an oblong trench in the sand and pouring the molten metal into the sand. This was the creation of the technique called “sand casting” and was used for bullion bar ingot gold creation for the Royal Treasury of Egypt from 3150 B.C. – 30 B.C. The Romans then came along and truly refined both the shape and size of not only bullion bars but coins as well. Still, the early sizes were obviously somewhat erratic by modern standards, but their scales helped them hone the accuracies in the sand castings’ final steps. By contrast, today’s ingots are very exacting with one troy ounce defined as exactly 31.1034768 grams. New scientific innovations in tools for cutting, casting and weighting allow me to offer you a myriad of shapes and sizes from 1 gram all the way up to 400 ounce bars, referred to as “Big Boys” in the metals industry.

Friday Feature: The Definitive Guide to Buying Gold Bars (Image by Ulrich Dregler from Pixabay)

Now let’s add some clarity to making that final decision as to which manufacturers you should buy your Gold Bar Ingot from, as it can be confusing with all the choices that are available to you. Also at this point, I want you to understand just what a Hallmark is, that stamped symbol in a bullion bar, as it tells a dealer just will they buy back from you in the future. The Hallmark is made up of several elements. The stamped or “struck” mark denotes the type of metal and purity, the maker/sponsor’s mark and the year of the marking. I want all my readers to be very clear on this point, I believe that you should never buy a bar that doesn’t have a Hallmark stamped on it that can’t be confirmed by the company that manufactured it. For this very reason I have a certain affinity for Swiss bars because when you go to resell them, you might not have to have them reassayed at a cost. Of course, you pay slightly more for a good Hallmark, but as you can better understand now, it is worth it in the long run.

In 1424 in France, Jean de Brogny, after having consulted with a council of eight Master Goldsmiths from Geneva, enacted a regulation on the purity and hallmarking which still stands today. So after a few centuries, I can get a little more comfortable with the competency of the manufacturer, and for this reason, I have a proclivity to use Swiss gold. In today’s modern age you can now scan the QR code on a bar’s packaging, and the company will confirm it’s their bar, clever little bankers.

I hope that you now have a better fundamental understanding of bar bullion. In the next few closing lines, I’ll try to give you some idea of what you might expect to pay on the open market for bullion bars of one ounce or greater in size.

It is important to remember that gold is a currency and the exchange of one currency for another is a non-taxable event in most transactions. China has three kinds of taxes, namely, Value-Added Tax, Consumption Tax, and Business Tax. The levy of these taxes is normally based on the volume of turnover. Forty-seven states have no sales tax on gold in the U.S., the exceptions are Minnesota, Texas, and California, and these States have a small tax fee, so it is always best to check your local state’s taxable status on gold before you buy it, as all tax laws are subject to change. Now I hope you have a little better understanding of why Ingot bars cost what they do, when and how they are made, and who has the most recognizable product.

A cost-effective purchasing method works like this for your bar accumulations: Get the London Fix price. There is a morning and afternoon “Fixing” price that is published all over the world and freely accessible. Depending on the time and market movement, multiply by 1.6% and you should have your cap for the price that you should expect to pay for top quality bullion bars. Remember that demand will raise or lower the premium price that you will end up paying.


Pete Thomas: Sr. Vice President of Zaner Precious Metals

Zaner Precious Metals has morphed into a multifaceted division of Zaner Financial Services. Our IT division that assists Miners, Refiners & Recyclers does amazing work. At our core, as always, bullion and coin dealers have remained as our backbone for hedging and the buying and selling of metals. Its products include Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium in the form of Bullion bars, and bullion coins. The majority of the bars and coins we sell are “fresh” current year straight from the vaults of our suppliers. Zaner Precious Metals’ services include both buying and selling of precious metal. We also do Precious metals qualified IRA’s.



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