Woman Make Better Investors When it Comes to Silver and Gold

Sellers of gold have remarked that woman involve themselves with precious metal investing far less than men. However, when woman start to look into making the investment, they do a far better job than men do.Women Vs Men

The male ego blushes at this claiming woman are too emotional. This could be true as much as men may not be emotional enough.  It simply doesn’t matter in precious metal investing. Women tend to be much more cautious when starting the investment inquiry. During the process they demonstrate a higher awareness of personal shortcomings, and, they make decisions only after they feel they have addressed this deficit. Men often decide on the information they have, acting like they should know everything once they believe what they are doing is what they should be doing. This may work well in many situations. In gold and silver investing this leaves out much of the right kind of information.

Gold brokers anonymously admit that woman investors are often difficult to sell at first. Women tend to proceed with caution and act with the following characteristics that make them smart precious metals investors. Maybe brokers don’t like hard start, even though women are more balanced buyers in the long run. Here are a few reasons women are better investors when it comes to silver and gold.

Five reasons women excel in precious metal investing

Patience

Women are patient with investing. Patience in gold and silver investing is a key to success. Woman will wait for a level of comfort before pursuing the investment. If the comfort zone isn’t there, the broker might as well start over as a female investor will usually not buy when out of a comfort zone.

Knowledge before Buy

Women are typically aware of what they don’t know, and what they in general want to learn what they don’t know before proceeding. Many might say investing in commodities of silver and gold is largely a man’s world. Ask a broker and many will say it most certainly is a man’s world and there are very few women who excel in it. A few women excel doing very well for themselves.

Relationship Building

Women build a relationship in their gold and silver business dealings. Sales people observe men willing to start a short term anything if it is something they believe they want. Women seek trust building face time and business contact. If this is rushed, a woman more than a man will simply move on to another sales person willing to provide the relationship.

Checked the Ego

From a broker’s perspective, women seem to have their egos in check. A salesperson is less likely to succeed in selling gold and silver by pushing a reason associated with the ego. Ideas based on ego such as keeping up with others, survivor instinct of us against them, or even vanity carry little weight with the woman investor seeking gold and silver.

Instincts

Many men admit that women have better instincts. When women trust their instincts they do better than men in the investment selection process. Sales people have to learn to trust their instincts to develop and succeed in placing investments that work for customers. Instincts have a two-fold aspect that is part of the makeup women have and the societal factors forming their instinctual behavior.

This last aspect, instinct is what most women need to work on to develop as successful investors. Women who trust and leverage their instincts find this to make the most difference in their success in silver and gold investing.

Tips for Women Investors

Discuss ideas with trusted, credible, knowledgeable and neutral sources before stepping into the buying arena with a salesperson or broker. Find knowledgeable insiders to speak with and research while developing a comfort zone about the topic and a relationship. This way the actual buying is not dependent on the quality and comfort of the relationship discussed in the above five reasons. Gold and Silver brokers, specifically men, will work against the desire for relationship and comfort zones. Obtain the same information the broker might allude to, in detail from a trusted insider whose only interest is you as the client.

Men will fight to be in on the deal. More often they pull the trigger on impulse, before they have all the facts. Because men tend to want information from people who do the deal, the people who do the deal have an upper hand all the way. Salespeople perceive doing business with men as better because of the upper hand. Women who perceive the salesperson’s need to control the deal can move on or find ways to work around the directives imposed by seller with relevant questions.

Women break down the buying process into small segments and spread the decisions farther apart. Most gold brokers will work hard to prevent this thinking. It is part and parcel of the survival of the gold and silver brokerage business. Women make better gold and silver buyers as they approach the purchase with full consideration and due diligence.

Recommend Reads;
1) Precious Metal Diversification
2) Gold Ownership

Precious Metal Diversification

As stable as gold and silver are in diverse economies, investors know that they must diversify their precious metal portfolios for safety and liquidity reasons.  Two metals with very important industrial uses can be successfully used to diversity a gold and silver portfolio.

Buy palladium and platinum to assure diversity in your precious metals ownership.  There is a small window of opportunity opening on these before prices really start to take off.  Analysts and experts claim that precious metals along with most vital substances are becoming increasingly rare and expensive, making them profitable commodities for investors.

Palladium and Platinum

The essential uses of palladium and platinum are especially vital to the automotive industry.  Palladium acts as a hydrogen scrubber that can absorb up to 900 times its own weight of hydrogen.  Platinum known as element 78 is almost twice as heavy as palladium, known as element 46.  Both find extensive use as the main functioning component of the lining of automotive catalytic converters.

Palladium peaked in price in 2000 at more than $1,100 per ounce.  Palladium can be swapped for Platinum in automotive exhaust catalytic converters for as much as 25% of the original amount, and in laboratory uses up to 50% of the original quantity.

With the increased use of palladium prices tend to rise dramatically when automotive makers expand operations.  Emerging markets such as China and India with millions of new auto drivers in the last decade has pushed the demand for palladium and platinum through the roof.  Palladium is twice as abundant as gold, however, only 1 ton of palladium is produced for every 10 tons of gold annually.

Demand is not the only factor affecting the price of palladium.  Palladium is produced principally in Russia and South Africa with 40% of the world’s supply coming from these two countries.  South Africa produces 80% of the world supply of platinum.  South Africa and Russia both have a poor business climate due to lack of observance of contracts.  Investors looking for stable mining companies to invest in have a challenge to look for companies with operations outside of Russia and South Africa.

Types of Investments

 

Exchange Traded Funds

Two of the best ETFs Exchange Traded Funds include ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSE:PALL) and ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSE:PPLT).

The palladium fund PALL has net assets of $530 million and a low expense ratio of 0.53%.  Formed in January 2010 its price was set to 0.1 ounces of palladium, but now due to market changes and expenses its net asset value is about 7% lower.

The platinum fund PPLT has net assets of $886 million with expense ratio also at 0.53%.  Since its inception in January, 2010, it has slipped about 3% from the original share price tracking 0.1 ounces of platinum.

Mining Companies

Operating two platinum mines in Montana, with a third under way in Ontario, Canada, Stillwater Platinum (NYSE:SWC) has market capitalization of $1.46 billion.  It trades at 9.7 P/E and is 1.8 times net asset value.  In 2011, Stillwater mined 399,000 ounces of palladium and 119,000 ounces of platinum.  This 518,000 ounces was up 6.4% from 485,000 ounces in 2010.  Projections are 500,000 ounces in 2012.

North American Palladium (NYSE:PAL) mines palladium in Ontario producing 147,000 ounces in 2011 with projections to 250,000 ounces by 2015.  The company lost $16 million in 2011 annual revenue and wrote off and additional $49 million from an exploratory gold mine that proved uneconomical to use.  Given current operating expenses it produces platinum at a cost of $448 per ounce and expects to have that at $250 per ounce with the 2015 projected production.  A new gold mine coming on stream is expected to produce 30,000 ounces of gold at cost of $1,150 per ounce.  With market capitalization of $440 million, this mining company’s mature operations and pipeline of growing production offer a leveraged opportunity relative to the price of palladium and gold.

This article is written by Joseph Vietor.

Recommend Reads;
1) Gold Ownership
2) Trading Silver and Gold

Gold Ownership

Soaring gold prices and turmoil in the economy have many investors considering the benefits of investing in the lustrous yellow precious metal. Gold has historically held a tangible value and has been used for exchange in many different cultures. Currencies trade without tangible backing and have only the good faith and promise of the government that issued them. These fiat currencies change in value depending on the market influences.

How to Invest in Gold

You can buy gold and take physical possession of it as a primary method of investing Gold Ownershipin precious metals. Gold coins, and silver coins, are easy to transport and to store. Hoping they rise in value, you can stockpile gold coins for long term and lasting value. Depending on your needs, you can also buy gold bars, wafers and other forms of precious metals.

Certificate metals are way of investing in precious gold where you are issued a certificate indicating how much of the metal you own. The physical gold is stored at a dealer’s location. Certificates vary in detail, some only indicating the quantity of metal you own, while more dependable certificates tell you the serial numbers of the gold bars you own. Some other methods include GoldMoney and Bullion Vault to invest electronically in gold and other metals.

Some investors use ETF’s Exchange Traded Funds to buy gold without physically holding the gold. The fund tracks the price of gold but is not in possession of the gold, and therefore does not have the stability and intrinsic value of gold. Physical ownership of gold however, holds the intrinsic value of gold with something tangible, that you can touch. As gold has safety in times of economic trouble, when monetary systems are in dire straits, some investors use gold for the advantage of safety and to possess its inherent value.

It is useful to consider some of the drawbacks of physical ownership of gold.

The cost of gold ownership has a premium over the market value. Gold bars, gold coins and other forms of gold are sold at a premium over spot value. Additionally, if you don’t store the gold yourself, you will have to pay for transport after the purchase, storage and insurance.

Storing gold at your home makes it accessible. If you store your gold at some other location you might not actually be able to access your gold when you need it. If there were an economic collapse, there is risk that the gold might not be available.

If you decide you need to convert gold into money you will find gold is relatively liquid. Although not recognized as legal tender, you can sell gold in many markets and barter as it is recognized as tradable commodity.

Theft can occur and is always a possibility when you physical own any precious metal. You will want to insure your gold. You run the risk of theft if you store the gold at storage facility or if you store it at home. If you store the gold in a safe deposit box, make sure the bank has insurance specifically to cover possible theft. FDIC/CDIC insurance will not cover gold loss.

Most precious metals in the U.S. are taxed as collectibles. Any capital gains from the gold investment are taxed at 28%. There is no special treatment of the capital gain as there is with other long-term capital gains. Jewelry is an exception as it is treated as heirloom.

Gold investments added to your holdings will add safety and diversity. Investors who achieve success with gold consider the pros and cons related to investing in gold.

This article is written by Joseph Vietor.

Recommend Reads;
1) Where to Buy Precious Metals
2) 3 Reasons Why You Ought to Invest in Precious Metals

Trading Silver and Gold

Gold and silver are often traded online without physical ownership of the precious metal. There are many pros and cons of trading precious metals which this article will explore. Gold and silver have significant roles in industrial applications, driving a large percentage of the mining activity. You may have heard of the speculative price changes of gold and silver in the commodities markets. The value of these changes is crucial to traders who use these for gain. Gold and silver are traded as commodities in the commodities markets, similar to a currency in the financial markets. The main advantage of this market activity gives liquidity to a large group of trading investors.

Rewards of trading precious metals

StabilityTrading Silver And Gold

Gold and silver will not likely go to zero due to economic conditions. Liabilities from banks can come due and currency may lose value during troubled economies. The two precious metals have intrinsic value based on their appeal, and rarity. Governments can default on their debts, but your portfolio will keep value with gold and silver.

Hedge against inflation

As nations change the amount of currency they have in the market, inflation ebbs and tides with the float of money. Gold and silver remain constant as a limited resource.  Typically, and especially with gold, the price will tend to go up in times of economic depression. No government currently links gold or silver to its currency. Yet, the price of gold has risen steadily in the last five years, with a lagging U.S. economy.

Liquidity

The market for gold and silver is an international one with interested buyers and sellers constantly at work. This makes the market one of the best liquid markets in the world.  Most investors are willing to buy precious gold or silver as they hold their value.

Risks of trading precious metals

Low short term returns

If you compare the price rate of change of gold or silver to other commodities trading you will see a relatively lower rate of change. These two precious metals change price slowly. You need to trade for a longer period of time to make significant returns.  Precious metals have slow rate of return.

Volatility in price

While gold and silver have substantial price correction, the over positive changes are geared to longer term investment.  The short term speculator may experience price changes with risk of loss, to the disadvantage of gold or silver investment.

Counter inflationary growth

While growth during inflationary periods and currency drops is a stabilizing force, it limits the timing of when price growth typically occurs with gold and silver. There is simply not as much time when gold and silver are experiencing growth that can be exploited short term.

Conclusion

Gold and silver are key playing cards of the investor’s hand in financial markets. They have proven profitable trading tools to those investors who trade short term. Forex trading has made online trading an accessible method of trading without the need to physically owning the gold or silver. With gold and silver trading the trader have many methods to profit from the advantages available in today’s electronic markets.

This article is contributed by Joseph Vietor.

Recommend Reads;
1) Gold Investment Basics: Simple Ways to Invest in Gold
2) Why Buy Silver Now?

Gold Investment Basics: Simple Ways to Invest in Gold

Given countless opportunities for investors to purchase gold in the market, beginners can definitely establish their track towards a successful investment. Gold acquisition depends on three things: amount to be invested, value of items and market prices. The following are ways to invest in gold

Through Purchasing Index Funds

You can buy either an exchange-traded fund or a mutual fund. This form of gold investment goes along with the movements of an index of the gold market. Ownership can be showcased in an investor’s portfolio. Running an index fund costs less than the acquiring physical gold. You do not need to think of secure storage and proper handling. This type also has a low turnover since it is a passive investment that can be managed easily.

Through Acquiring Gold Mining Stocks

You also have the option to purchase stocks in mining companies. Since the mining industry revolves in seeking sources and achieving high levels of gold production, this kind of investment relies on profit margin, which is the difference between expenses and revenue. Mining industries have high operational costs and thus, good management is required. To secure your stocks, make sure you invest in companies that have good management and history, and not on companies that are running short.

Through Buying Gold Coins

You may also try venturing in gold coin investments as this type is an interesting and fun investment. Aside from relatively larger premiums compared to bullion bars and other forms, you will definitely enjoy handling them yourself. Examination of purity is also relatively simple due to the fact that coins are small and flat. One major thing that you would need to keep in mind though is the safety and proper handling of your coins. Since most gold coins are collectibles and contain at least a troy ounce of gold, you should secure them in places that are not vulnerable to theft and fraudulent activities. You can keep them in safes that are durable and fire-resistant.

You may be interested in reading “How to avoid rare gold coin scams

Through Purchasing Gold from Companies Offering Storage Programs

You may want to invest in physical gold like gold bullion bars, coins or mints. If you do not want to think of personally handling the safety of your gold items, you may want to avail of the storage programs that a lot of established gold companies offer. They store the bullions in vaults that are inaccessible to the public, and they manage their clients’ transactions without the hassle of having to deliver items via mail. They would charge a small amount for the storage, but you will be spared from the threats of theft and mishandling.

The ways mentioned are just the basics. There are more ways where you can diversify and use your gold investments as a hedge to back other investments. There will always be risks involved, but you there are several schemes and programs in the gold investment industry to let you handle these risks efficiently. What matters is that you invested in something precious whose value increases over time.

Where to Buy Precious Metals

You can buy precious metals both over the internet and in bricks-and-mortar establishments such as jewelry stores and coin shops. You can even go to private parties especially organized to sell this type of metal. Where you decide to buy precious metal will depend greatly on which form you’d like to the metal to be in. Decide whether you want to buy coins, jewelry, bars or flatware and other large ornaments.

Online

You can buy practically any form of precious metal online. However, Internet retailers nowadays tend to sell new products rather than second-hand ones. As online stores don’t have the same amount of overheads and staff as physical shops, items bought over the internet will be comparatively cheaper than their equivalents in bricks-and-mortar establishments. Buying online also means you can make your purchase and get the order delivered to you without having to leave your house. Unlike professional retailers online, online auction sites actually do give much opportunity to buy second-hand and even antique goods online. Another place online where you can buy precious metal is the mint. You can buy new coins directly from the mint’s website.

Jewelry Stores

When buying jewelry for its precious metal, it’s obviously important to make sure that the gold, silver or platinum within the articles is genuine. Ask the jeweler if you can see the hallmarks on the pieces you’re interested in buying. This is, of course, one advantage of buying jewelry in a bricks-and-mortar store rather than online—you can see the hallmark for yourself, rather than having to rely on a photos that may or may not be fake. There are many jewelry stores in Southeast Asia. In Singapore alone there are hundreds of jewelry retail outlets, the most notable of which include Tiffany & Co, Far East Gemological Institute and Tai Hing Chiong. Hong Kong, however, is considered by many to be the true centre of the Asian jewelry industry. If you’re looking for a particular type of jewelry, call the shop ahead of time to ensure they have it in stock.

Coin Shops

Prior to going a coin shop, it’s a good idea to find out what kind of prices you can expect to pay. Research the prices of coins by looking in coin books and online. The best places to look for coin shops are larger cities. Once you find a coin shop, spend plenty of time sifting through the bins in order to pick out coins to buy. By thoroughly searching through these coin bins, you may find something rare and extremely valuable. If the shop doesn’t have what you’re looking for, ask the coin dealer if they can order in what it is you want. Once the order comes in, the dealer can contact you via phone or email and you can go back to the shop and collect the coins. Coin shops are generally regarded as the best places to buy metals like gold and silver below their spot price.

Private Parties

Private home parties specifically for selling metal are becoming ever more popular. The host opens up their home to friends and acquaintances who come to buy and sell their precious metal. This is a great way for a large amount of people to get their hands on gold, silver and other metals at the same time, from individuals that they trust. Buying metal from this type of party can even raise money for charity, as, in some cases, the sellers will donate all proceeds from the party to the charitable cause of their choice. There will be a scale and sensor at each of these parties, so buyers are able the test the quality and content of the metal in the articles they’re interested in purchasing. These parties also represent a great opportunity to socialize and catch up with old friends, as often food and drink is served at these events before everyone gets down to the serious business of buying and selling.

Wherever you decide to buy precious metals, be sure to do plenty of research before making the purchase and decide beforehand what exactly it is you want to buy. Never get pressurized by a store or dealer to buy something you don’t want or pay a price you can’t afford.

Recommended Reads:
1) How to avoid rare gold coin scams

Buying and Selling Precious Metals

Precious metals have been used in humankind’s economies since the dawn of recordkeeping.   Due to their scarcity, and attractiveness they have been regarded and revered as long term investments as well as decorative ornamentals for temples, statues and jewelry.  Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium to name a few are available to buyers in various forms including coins, bars, powders all of differing grade.  The precious metals can be purchased on stock commodity exchanges.

The prices of these precious metals are affected by economic factors and world events.  The investor needs to pay attention these factors when buying and selling precious metals.  Investment may be done over a chosen period of time from days to years, to average a favorable cost.  The investor can sell at any time if needed.

Many online companies are available to act as an electronic marketplace of rare and precious metals.  Depending on your investment plan it may make sense to use the many services offered by online firms.  You may have the company store your investment metal or you can have them ship it to you to store on your own.  Bulk purchases often have discounts, and companies require minimum purchase to start.

Once the buyer or seller requests a quote, the process begins. It is relatively easy.  The company sends a quote or list of quotes for the buyer or seller to review.  When the investor agrees, the company will lock in the price and write up a trade.  These online companies offer account services of varying levels.  Most accounts have instant trade execution, transparency in the market, 24 hours a day trading, with competitive fees, price charts of different metals, tips and tools, and research.  Mobile phones are utilized and usually the account data is available to your smartphone.

The long term investment in precious metals has shown continuous gains.  The global market is beginning to take a look at gold and silver bullion as smart long term investments.  History shows the increasing value of precious metals over time.  The long term perspective is to add this investment for long term gain.

Gold bullion and silver bullion because of their purity can be converted to jewelry.  This saves a large cost involved in jewelry purchase.  And, jewelry can be custom made into a style that is most wanted.

Any investment is best maintained and started with solid research before buying.  Precious metals require patient knowledge of world events and economic s as they influence the prices.  The investor who will be buying and selling precious metals will want to research and have information available with the many tools offered.

Recommended Reads:
1) Why Buy Silver Now?
2) Why Do People Buy Gold?

Why Buy Silver Now?

Silver has often been called poor man’s gold as it is so much more affordable than gold. With silver trading in ranges of $28 to $45 per ounce over the last few years, and gold trading between $1500 and 1,800 per ounce silver is much more affordable for investors.  Silver is highly undervalued over the last year, and appears to be in a consolidation pattern poised for growth.  In 2011 silver prices rocketed to almost $50 per ounce.

Barclays Bank, Thomson Reuters GFMS both agree that the average price will be $45 in the near term. If you started buying silver today, at roughly $32 per ounce and the price went to $45 per ounce, you’d be making a 40% percent profit.  Many believe once it gets to $50 per ounce it is poised to run up to a new high.

Undervalued

Silver is currently valued 55:1 to gold.  Gold prices are 55 times the price of silver.  Historically it has been 16:1.  Silver hasn’t reached this full valuation since 1980 when it hit $144 per ounce.  If it were to obtain that same valuation in today’s dollars, with inflation adjusted it would cap $500 per ounce.  Many analysts believe silver will go this high for this exactly this reason.

Inflation Hedge

The presence of inflation typically drives up prices of silver.  In times of tough economy the Federal Reserve helps or eases lending by printing more money with what it calls “Quantative Easing.”   With more money in the economy the dollar loses value with inflation.  The price of silver historically has been a hedge during inflation and economic turmoil.  The price typically trends up during inflation.

Growing Demand

About 95% of the demand for silver comes from industrial applications such as cell phones, medical equipment, automobiles, water purification, solar panels, and hearing aids to name a few.  There are more than 10,000 applications but because the amounts of silver used in each use are relatively small, it costs too much to recover.  A large percentage of silver is used up by 95% of buyers in one time use!  And the demand continues to grow from these industrial buyers and investors making up the other 5% of the growing demand.

Dwindling Supplies

Current growing demand uses up more silver than is mined.  Existing silver inventories are rapidly diminishing.  With low prices, silver exploration has almost stopped completely.  There have not been any major discoveries in years.  As silver supplies are reduced, investors will compete with corporate industrial buyers which will drive up the price of silver.  Scientific American
predicts at current production all the silver in the world will be used up by 2029.  With thousands of applications and no quality substitutes, what will happen when silver is used up?

Israel Friedman says, “It is only a question of time when the shortage of silver will come. The USA has enough gold for 1,000 years of future defense needs, and not one day’s worth of silver.”

As a respected mentor to silver Analyst Ted Butler he adds “There is no extra silver left in the world. When the [silver price growth] comes, it will go so high the whole world will ask how this could happen.”

Silver Prices Driven Down

Most people do not know that a group of banks have been under investigation for manipulation of silver prices since 2008.  JP Morgan has been identified by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission CFTC as a key player in this scheme of manipulation.  The bank has come under suspicion from its ownership of more than 25% of all short contracts on silver, betting on declining price of silver.  These “naked shorts” are not covered by physical gold.  There is not enough silver in the world to cover these shorts if needed.  The activities of this group of banks appear to be manipulating prices as much as possible outside the jurisdiction of the CFTC.  One of the CFTC commissioners remarked that any such activities will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  When this prosecution comes out the price and control of silver might explode overnight.

How to Buy Silver

There are four basic ways to buy silver.

Buy direct from local coin shops

If you want to see your silver and buy it while seeing it go to your local coin ship and buy silver coins, rounds, or silver bars.  Avoid numismatic, collectible coins.  You will pay a premium for their vintage.  Buy coins for their silver content.

Dealer

Buy physical silver from a broker dealer who is reputable.  The silver will be shipped to you after your purchase and you will take possession of it.

Online Retailer

Buy silver coins from an online retailer.  Be careful of fees.  Some retailers sell at a large double digit percentage premium over spot price.

Invest Incrementally

Buy silver on a periodic schedule of your choice and an amount of your choice to build up a savings.  You can open an account to store your accumulated savings.  When the silver quantity reaches a predetermined quantity, you can take possession usually having it shipped directly to you.

Recommend Reads:
1) Why Do People Buy Gold?
2) Gold Investment Basics: Simple Ways to Invest in Gold

Hallmarks of Precious Metals

Hallmarks have historically been applied to precious metals as a guarantee of a certain degree of purity or fineness of the metal. Hallmarks vary in appearance depending on the country in which they were applied. For example, in some countries the hallmark consists of several elements whilst in others, it is a single mark augmented by another. Hallmarks are typically applied to gold, silver and platinum worldwide and to palladium in some countries. The hallmarking system protects investors from buying metal collectibles that have had their precious metal content reduced by unscrupulous sellers. Therefore you can expect to find hallmarks on coins, jewelry, metallic art and any other metal item valuable enough to draw interest as an investment vehicle.

Assaying

To determine the degree of purity or fineness, precious metal is subjected to formal metal testing, commonly known as assaying. The institutions that test the purity of the metal are known as assay offices. It is these offices that are responsible for applying the hallmarks nowadays. There are various methods of assay, the main ones being touchstone, x-ray fluorescence and fire assay. Touchstone consists of making a rubbing of the metal object on a special stone, treating it with acids and comparing the resultant colour to references. As the process doesn’t involve any scraping, cutting or drilling, it is particularly suitable for testing extremely valuable pieces. Another non-destructive technique, x-ray fluorescence is also quick and accurate. It not only measures the amount of the relevant precious metal present in the object but also the content of other alloying metals present. Fire assay is by far the most elaborate method and is highly destructive. The object is melted, allowing the alloys to be separated and the constituents weighed. As the process destroys the article, it is usually used to test a random sampling from one lot of items produced by the same manufacturer, such as gold rings.

These main methods of assay are used for testing finished goods. There are separate assay methods for raw materials that are yet to be touched by artistic craftsmanship. Raw silver is assayed by titration, which is a laboratory method of quantitative analysis. Gold is assayed by the metallurgical process of cupellation, in which the ore or alloy is treated under high temperatures and the noble metal is then separated from the base metals. Platinum is assayed using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). ICP-AES is an analytical technique that detects metals by using inductively coupled plasma in the production of excited atoms and ions emitting electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular metal.

Marking

Once the metal article has been assayed, it’s ready to be hallmarked. There are a number of ways in which a hallmark can be struck. They include punching and laser marking, with the latter being the newer technique of the two. Steel punches are used for punching and are available in different sizes, making it possible to punch anything, from the tiniest earring to the largest silver tray. Punches are also available in either straight shank or ring shank. The former is used for normal punching with a hammer, while the latter is used to mark rings, in conjunction with a press. The problem with the punching process is that fragile items and hollowware are at risk of being damaged or distorted, which is where laser marking comes in.

Laser marking is guaranteed to leave even the most delicate article intact and works by using high power lasers to evaporate material from the object’s surface. There are currently two methods of laser marking, namely 2D and 3D. 2D laser marking works by burning the hallmark’s outline into the item, while 3D effectively simulates the marks produced by the punching technique. Some assay offices also use their laser marking technology to personalize jewelry by laser engraving. Although laser marking is fast becoming the prevalent marking technique, traditional punches are still used in some assay offices for particularly big or awkwardly shaped items.

Hallmarking is a fascinating topic and process and will continue to be so as new techniques and methods are uncovered and experimented with. As long as precious metals, and items made from these metals, are with us, then so will hallmarking and all that it entails.

3 Reasons Why You Ought to Invest in Precious Metals

Throughout history, we have been fascinated by and in love with gold and silver. Many societies have seen them as the ultimate symbols of wealth, luxury and success. However, investors are fast realizing that these metals aren’t just symbols of idealized wealth but can help produce real wealth by acting as alternative investment vehicles. What is more, gold and silver are far from the only precious metals worth investing in. Platinum and palladium can both also help add to your wealth and protect it.

1.      Intrinsic Value

Unlike many other asset classes during the current economic uncertainty, precious metals are still valuable. This is partly because such metals will always have an intrinsic value, no matter what the economic conditions are. As the saying goes, gold has never been valued at zero. Although the way in which the prices of gold and other metals fluctuate daily can seem alarming at first sight, remember that all assets fluctuate in this way. The realities of inflation and deflation show us how drastically cash, perhaps the most common asset of all, can fluctuate in value. Indeed, at points in time when it’s feared that inflation will occur in the near future, the price of alternative commodities like precious metals goes up, as such assets become more desirable. With each global financial crisis that comes along, more people are converted to the idea of paper money being potentially worthless in the future, including many experts in investment circles. All investment is a gamble but in even the most extreme financial crises, precious metals are actually the safest bet for protecting your wealth.

2.      High Demand

Demand for precious metals will always be high because of their various uses. After all, people will always need to mint coins and will always want to make jewelry. These are not the only things metals are used for, however. Various industrial sectors also have their uses for these materials. The emergence of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies on the global industrial and economic stages guarantees that precious metals will continue to be used for these industrial purposes, indeed increasingly so. For example, as gold is a vital ingredient in many a high technology component, it’s much sought after by the electronics industry. It also makes for a great electrical conductor and a very effective heat shield. Qualities such as stability and corrosion-resistance make it all the more desirable in an industrial context.

Meanwhile, platinum is used in the manufacturing of medical and automotive equipment and computer parts. Palladium, being softer than platinum, has its own specific uses. These include raw material and photo processing, fuel cells and the purification of water, oil and natural gas.  Silver is used in batteries, bearings and moving parts, mirrors and coatings, medical equipment, surgical tools and electronics. It is also used for brazing and soldering and is increasingly becoming an important part of the solar energy movement, thanks to the use of silver paste in the majority of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. With metals having so many purposes, there will always be a lot of people who want to buy, so it’s worth keeping metal in your portfolio at all times.

3.      Diversification

It’s important to diversify your portfolio in order to give yourself both security and flexibility. By spicing your portfolio up by adding precious metals into the mix, you’re reducing risk and limiting volatility. Not all asset types will move up or down in price at the same time or to the same degree. If you have an equally-weighted portfolio, the damage done to you when one of your investment vehicles crashes in price will not be as severe as it would be if your portfolio was dominated by that one asset class. Indeed it pays to even diversify the precious metals of your portfolio—be sure to keep more than one type of metal as part of your portfolio at all times. Just as gold can perform better or worse than real estate or art on any given day, it can also perform differently to silver and all the other precious metals.

Precious metals aren’t just there to look pretty but can add real value, flexibility, security and diversification to your portfolio. As long as the consumption of precious metals exceeds production and as long as other asset classes also have an element to risk to them, investing in precious metals is the smart thing to do.

Recommend Reads:
1) Why Buy Silver Now?
2) Gold Investment Basics: Simple Ways to Invest in Gold