Gold can be kept in a variety of forms. Gold of high purity is often kept in the form of bars, but may also be found as ingots and coins. Gold that is officially recognized as being at least 99.5% pure is referred to as bullion, which can be cast into any of these shapes, making it convenient to carry, transfer, or even stack.
When gold ore is mined from the earth, it is a mix of gold and mineralized rock. Using extreme heat or chemicals, the gold is extracted from the ore, creating the bullion. Bullion is often held as reserves by governments and central banks or held by institutionalized investors.
A mint is a company that will mint, pour, or cast precious metals, including gold. Some will say that gold is gold, regardless of where it originates or where it is minted, but for some collectors, the mint does hold importance and, sometimes, it can be quite significant.
Here are some of the mints and manufacturers who produce investment-grade bullion:
The Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint, which opened in 1908, is renowned for producing gold at a remarkable .99999 in purity. This places them at the head of the pack. They are known for the Canadian Maple Leaf gold and silver coins and also produce a Wildlife Series of bullion.
The United States Mint
The United States mint not only produces US currency, but its bullion program also produces gold, silver, and platinum coins that are among the most sought-after in the world. They have an impressive line that includes the American Gold Eagle, Silver Eagle, and Platinum Eagle.
The Perth Mint
The biggest gold coin in the world is the “Red Kangaroo,” weighing in at 1 tonne. They have several flagship coins, including the Kookaburra and Koala, but also produce other products such as the Perth Mint gold bars.
The Royal Mint Gold bars
With a history that stretches back over more than a millennium, the Royal Mint is owned by Her Majesty’s Treasury. Despite its age, this mint is very much in the present day, producing bullion of remarkably high quality. They offer iconic bullion products such as the Royal Mint gold bars, as well as more recent items that include the Queen’s Beasts bullion coins.
Johnson Matthey is a fine example of how mints can and do matter, particularly to collectors. Originally opening in the early 1800s as a gold assayer shop that would inspect gold for quantity and quality, they quickly came to be considered the official Assayer Office and Refiner for the Bank of England. They stopped minting in the 1980s, but before they did, they produced some of the finest gold, silver, and platinum bars, which have now become vintage items that are greatly prized by collectors.
While there are countless mints across the world, there will always be those that rise to the top of the list, due to the purity of the gold or the workmanship. So, while it may be true that “gold is gold,” don’t overlook the role of the mint.
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