If you’re looking to invest in gold bars you’ve probably already done some research and come up with some ideas about the types of bars you want to acquire. Probably the first thing you considered was the sizes to go for, which is a key decision to make; choosing the right sizes for your investment plans will help you get the most gold for your money. It’s not the only option you have to look at though. Although bullion bars are as close as you can get to a generic form of gold they do come in a variety of brands and each of those has benefits – and, potentially, drawbacks.
The branding of a gold bar can affect you in different ways. The most obvious is price. The big advantage of bars is that they let you buy gold at closer to the spot price than any other form of the metal except possibly scrap, while guaranteeing high purity (which scrap doesn’t do). More or less any bar will come with a lower premium than gold coins, but you can reduce it still further by choosing your brands carefully. Some mints are known for high quality or particularly good assaying, and this can make their bars more expensive. Limited edition, commemorative or “art” bars can also carry a higher premium. This isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid them because you’ll usually be able to charge the same premium yourself when you resell, but you won’t profit as much when the price of gold rises. If you find yourself needing to sell quickly then there are advantages to the higher-premium brands; they’re usually also the most sought after and you’ll be able to find a buyer right away and at a good price.
There are hundreds of brands of gold bars, produced by manufacturers ranging from small private firms through banks and up to national mints. Here are some of the most common ones you’ll find when you begin looking for gold bars.
Swiss finance group PAMP Suisse is one of the largest producers of gold bars today, especially for the smaller sizes – they dominate the market in bars under 50 grams. Their most popular product is the Fortuna range of minted ingots, available in sizes from 0.3 gram to 1kg. They also have a selection of other designs in a slightly smaller range of sizes, plus cast bars from 50g to 1kg and 400oz. Any PAMP bar of 1oz or larger can make an excellent investment despite relatively high premiums; they’re always in demand. These bars are highly trusted in the trade, as each one has a unique serial number to confirm its purity and authenticity. The smaller bars are more suitable for use as pendants than for investment due to proportionately higher premiums.
The Credit Suisse bank is another major Swiss bullion producer, selling a range of bars from 1g to 20g and 1oz to 10oz. Their bars are plainer than the PAMP ones but manufactured to an equally high quality and, again, carry serial numbers. The 1oz bar is one of the benchmark products in the bullion market and is always highly sought after.
Johnson Matthey is a British bank that also operates mints in the USA and Canada. They are a major source of larger bars, with the bulk of their production being 10oz and up; a major share of the supply of 400oz Good Delivery bars are made by Johnson Matthey. The brand has an excellent reputation and the bars are always in demand. However they’re so common that despite their popularity and high quality the premium is relatively low, making them a very good way to add gold to your portfolio.
Sunshine Minting is a private US firm known for extremely high quality work. As well as their own bullion bars they produce bullion for a number of banks and are the main supplier of coin and medal blanks to the United States Mint. Their gold bar range takes in 1g, 5g and 10g sizes – these are too small to make good investments, thanks to a very high relative premium – and more practical 1oz and 10oz sizes. Newer bars have very advanced security features which practically eliminate the risk of counterfeiting. While the premium on Sunshine bars is higher than for many other brands they’re guaranteed to find a buyer quickly when you want to sell.
Perth Mint is an Australian government-run mint and one of the largest gold bullion manufacturers. Sizes range from ½oz up to 400oz Good Delivery bars, which are certified by the London Bullion Market Association. The smaller sizes are exceptionally well minted. Demand for Perth Mint bars is consistently strong worldwide and the premium over spot price is also quite low, making them an extremely attractive investment. 1kg and 400oz bars are serial numbered for security.
Engelhard was another US private mint, but was bought out by the German BASF group in 2006 and no longer produces bullion. However large quantities of Engelhard bars are still in circulation. They consist of both minted and cast ingots in a variety of sizes and are eagerly sought after by collectors. The premium is often massive, making them a poor choice for the average gold collector, but if you get the opportunity to buy any at close to spot price you should snap them up – they will be very easy to sell at a good price.
The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the oldest existing mints in North America. Formerly run by Britain’s Royal Mint, it now produces bullion coins and bars from native Canadian gold; they’re all finished to a very high quality and are some of the most popular bars on the market. Again, good availability keeps premiums down and makes RCM bullion an excellent investment.
There are hundreds more brands of gold bars in circulation and if you’re simply looking to build up metal reserves they’re perfectly fine for the purpose, but if you prefer the security and assurance of a respected brand any of those listed here will be a good choice. Just remember to stay alert for good deals, and don’t let brand loyalty deter you from buying a different mark at the right price.