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The Almost Infinite Variety of Gold Bars

Though many assume that a gold bar is strictly the large 400-ounce (12.5kg) bars that are kept at financial institutions such as Fort Knox or the larger International banks. It is thought that about 2.5 million of these bars can be found in banks and treasuries worldwide. The hefty price that one of the 150,000 produced each year presents to a consumer buying gold bullion makes other forms of gold more attractive to the average investor.

Even when processed into another bar form, the gold bar product will acquire a slightly higher sale price over the spot price of gold. In the case of the massive gold bars, this is minimal to non-existent, but the interaction and processing required to make smaller bars does add to your price. However, when compared with coins or jewelery, gold bars are the most economic way to purchase the commodity. Denominations of an ounce or higher usually afford the best “price over spot.”

The most commonly traded gold bar among investors is the kilo-bar. As the name would imply, it is 1kg of pure gold. Kilobars of 99.99% purity (or higher) are sold by dozens of firms around the world. While most are in a wide and flat design that can be stacked in a safe, some larger investors request they be shaped more rectangular, like the 12.5kg “bricks.” The weight and content is stamped on the top of each bar. When buying gold bullion it is good to note that some decorative bars are not pure gold. Many gold bars for sale in Asia, Oceania and the Middle East are from crude, hand-made castings.

Often banks or mints will sell these products with their name or mark. Some companies liven up their bricks into decorative or otherwise value added products, to appeal to a wider consumer audience including non-traditional investors from newly-wealthy regions such as the Middle East, South America, Russia and Asia.

Some designs include hologram-decorated bars, design-stamped reverse bars and “Rainbow Bars” with different alloys fashioned into simple designs. Art bars and those of commemorative interest are also popular, with some even being applied in full color, as has been applied to coins since the early 1990s.

Other variations on buying gold bullion are modifications of the bar shape to be more useful. So-called gold leaf bars, gold stamps, gold fillet and gold cards are meant to be thin enough to be hidden and flexible, usually in smaller denominations. Some bars are cast into design shapes, pendants or miniatures. One Swiss company even manufactures a solid gold Bullion Watch. Other decorative shapes are meant for display as iconic sculpture, such as lucky pigs, turtles and toads.

Cast bars are normally closer to the spot price of good but, are rarely sold in denominations under an ounce. Minted bars can be made in much smaller sizes and are normally the sort used in jewelery applications or decorative items.

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Kenneth Hansen

March 12, 2009

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