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Don’t Be Scammed: How to Recognise Authentic Gold Bars

Gold has long been a popular investment option for people wishing to build up a portfolio for long-term security or eventual resale. Along with other precious metals, it retains its value well and is easy to store and transport in smaller quantities. However, buyers beware! To recognise authentic gold bars and coins are becoming harder and harder to spot, and they are worth pretty much nothing in monetary value. Gold bar scams can cause huge distress and financial difficulties. If you want to invest in gold, it is vital to understand how to spot real gold bars and know what they are worth.

Getting to Know Gold

Gold is a lustrous, yellow precious metal that is strong, malleable and found in nature in a highly pure state. Throughout history, gold has been highly prized and used as a form of currency. Gold was mined like a precious metal by people going as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. As well as its attractive appearance, gold is easy to work into jewellery, coins and other useful forms. It doesn’t tarnish, rust or corrode. Today, around 45% of the world’s gold is held in government and bank reserves as a highly regarded and valuable asset.

It is non-magnetic and a great conductor of electricity and heat. These key properties are useful for working out if gold is real or not. Gold can be pressed into very thin sheets, as well as made into circuit wires for electronics. Although a soft metal, gold can be combined with silver, nickel, copper and other metals to make a stronger alloy.

How to Recognise Authentic Gold Bars

To test for the purity of gold, it is important to know its fineness value. This is indicated by ‘parts per one thousand’ of real gold contained within the alloy. Fineness and purity results can be indicated by the percentage of gold content, its carat number or by the millesimal fineness system. The highest fineness value is 999, which is equivalent to 24 carats or 99.9%.

Recognise Authentic Gold Bars

There are several ways to check whether a gold bar really is what a seller is telling you it is. Look at it with your naked eye or, preferably, through a magnifying glass. Check for areas of discolouration, tarnishing or rust, as real gold is chemically inert and therefore not prone to this type of damage at all. Check for signs of other metals appearing underneath the surface as this is a sign the gold could be plated, rather than solid. Real gold bars are not overly shiny – they have a softer, yellow lustre. Run a magnet over the gold, to make sure that it is non-magnetic.

Look for hallmarks imprinted onto the gold that denote purity, as well as reveal the refiner’s identity. Some genuine, highly-prized gold refiners include:

o Perth Mint

o Metalor

o Baird & Co.

o Valcambi

o Credit Suisse

o Heraeus

Check that the refiner names, weights, fineness levels and other identifying details tally with what the buyer is claiming about the gold bar’s provenance, content and quality. Purity details are given in millesimal fineness and/or carat value. Anything less than 10 carats is not considered to have a high enough gold content to be genuine, authentic gold and should therefore be disregarded for investment purposes.

Even if the marks check out, it is still wise to carry out further tests into their authenticity. Don’t forget to weigh and measure the gold bar to check it matches the advertised dimensions. If you are still unsure, ask a neutral third-party gold testing expert to carry out more in-depth analyses and report back before you go ahead with any investments.

Some Final Advice…

Never buy gold bars from a source that cannot be authenticated to reduce the risk of scams. Ask for customer reviews, check distributors’ credentials online and do some thorough research before going ahead with gold bar purchases. Ensure that all certification paperwork and genuine packaging is included with the gold bar. A genuine seller will also want to make sure that your purchase reaches you in pristine condition. So, check that your distributor is packaging the product correctly for transit and has taken out the relevant insurance.

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