As small as a pendant or the size of a medium chocolate bar; smaller than a fingernail or almost as big as a hand. From the gram to the kilo, the gold that is offered to the public as a store of value takes different rectangular shapes and even fits into the smallness of a coin.
Although it is a somewhat more sophisticated operation than the purchase of dollars, to which Argentines are accustomed, investments in gold are not something exclusive for connoisseurs. On the contrary; Doubts about the international economy and the US economy in particular, which was on the verge of default corralled by a very high deficit, accelerated the purchase of the yellow metal in recent months.
"At the retail level, we notice that gold has been positioned. The public is looking for it more than the euro. Demand has multiplied between five and six times in the last month," Claudio Burelli, head of the table of Puente Hermanos operations.
At Banco Ciudad de Buenos Aires, the influx of people looking for gold also grew as a safeguard against the bad international climate and the need to convert the savings imposed by local inflation. "In the last month and a half, sales to the public have increased exponentially. We went from an average of half a kilo to 4 or 5 kilos a day," said Carlos Leiza, manager of pledge credit and sales of the entity.
The average investment in Ciudad, which is in charge of refining the metal and guaranteeing the quality of the gold that enters mostly through jewelry, is around 20,000 pesos. "In general, the largest sales volume is 100-gram ingots, although there are also those who prefer to buy small amounts," said Juan Antonio Vassallo, an expert in the area that handles metal at the bank. "In some cases, there are clients who went from positions in dollars that they had in an account to gold, or diversified their portfolio including it," Vassallo added, who equated the "fever" of the last month with what happened during the Gulf War, to early 90s. "It is a very important bullfight, which did not happen in 2008," he compared.
This type of conversion of savings forces you to review the possibilities and market conditions to avoid complications and make better calculations for when it is time to return to banknotes.
Regarding the nature of the investment, the experts emphasize that you have to think in the medium or long term –never less than six months- and take into account the volatility in the price.
For example, on January 1, an ounce (31.103 grams) was worth 1,418.31 dollars, while the day before yesterday it had valued up to US$ 1,777.3. The current scenario, of prevailing uncertainty, helped raise the price by 25.31% since the beginning of the year. And the projections for the near future are even higher, but the ups and downs of the economy have shown their ability to refute any forecast. Yesterday, it lost 1.7% due to the rebound in the markets and today it is once again trading low.
What are the possibilities to buy pure gold?
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You can buy ingots from 1 gram to the kilo. The intermediate ones are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 250 and 500 grams. That is, from a price that oscillates between around 250 pesos and around $250,000, depending on recent price variations.
Another of the instruments are coins, whose values depend on the weight due to their composition and the numismatic value of the piece assigned by the market.
In Puente they pointed out that the risks of investing in gold in this way carry the risk of a possible loss of value. "A fall that slightly damages the currency demonetizes it," warned Vassallo, from the city's bank.
The operators pointed out that there is the possibility of acquiring certificates of deposit, without the buyer taking the gold, although it is less frequent at the local level.
Another, slightly more complex option is to buy futures contracts. The purchase of one ounce is equivalent to a contract with a determined expiration, such as those offered by ROFEX. In this way, the buyer does not take the physical, but a document for which he charges if the metal goes up or must add the difference if the value turns out to be higher.
What kind of gold is it?
The gold involved in this type of operation is the highest purity, 999.9 or 999 parts per 1000 grams, the specialists detailed.
Banco Ciudad, for example, sells the gold that the entity itself mints. Of course, before reaching the hands of the public, it goes through laboratory tests where the quality of the metal is checked, it is classified and finally it goes through a refining process where it takes the form of ingots of different weights. At this time, the entity has about 200 kilos, Vassallo reported.
"The gold in jewelry is not the same. The gold in ingots is fine gold. To give it hardness, '75 gold' (or 18 carats) is amalgamated with other metals. Therefore, in the process of refining, the gold is recovered and then it is ingoted," explained the Ciudad coach.
Gold can also come from a foreign source. In Puente they sell ingots from Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank, UBS and the also Swiss Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux (PAMP). "These bars come in a closed [heat-sealed] blister pack with a certificate that guarantees validity," Burelli said.
The offer of gold without certificates can be found in the City of Buenos Aires, in some exchange houses. Due to the fact that it is riskier, this operation implies lower prices.
What are the options once the gold is purchased?
The purchase of gold, for those who decide not to take it with them, can keep the certificate, and the physical remains in custody. Most of the clients choose to take the metal, according to the sources consulted by LA NACION, but there is also the possibility of leaving it in entities such as the City, for a price that must be calculated within the investment. The cost of the service varies according to the period: for three or six months, it amounts to 20 pesos, it rises to 30 for nine months and $40 for one year.
How is quality tested?
In both cases, national or imported, the gold carries the manufacturer's certification that guarantees authenticity. Some titles indicate the weight, brand, grade, an identification number and the date the ingot was made. There are ingots that have this data "printed" on their surface.
LA NACION witnessed the procedures to which the portions of the metal that enter the City are subjected, to detect possible "filling" with alternative metals that falsify the value. For example, they told there, about 20 years ago, the presence of small bars of tungsten (or tungsten) embedded to replace gold was identified through ultrasound, which is applied to ingots from half or one kilo. Metal of equal weight could not have been detected by means of the analysis applied to smaller quantities, based on the density of the material (from Archimedean Principle) by means of which the carat weight is determined.
Where can you buy gold without risking being scammed?
Knowledgers of the market recommend buying gold in reliable entities or exchange houses, with experience. In the case of those who sell gold from abroad, they underline the importance of taking into account the most recognized manufacturers, such as Credit Suisse, from the Swiss bank, and USB.
Is it easy to part with gold?
The procedure for selling gold is similar to buying it. It is an exchange operation comparable to that of dollars. Because of the terms, some compare investments in gold with real estate, but the truth is that gold is more liquid. What can mean an obstacle (solvable, of course) is the acceptance of the ingot in a place other than the one purchased. In other words, some exchange houses or financial entities are more strict regarding the purity and certification of gold. While in some places where only bars of 999 purity are accepted, in others they only buy those of 999.9.
What are the legal conditions to acquire the gold metal?
When carrying out the operation, it is mandatory to present the identity document up to a certain amount. It works in accordance with the regulations that regulate the purchase of dollars, with the same limits and requirements. When spending 20,000 pesos in cash, documents must be presented that can prove the origin of the funds. Since February, resolution 28/11 of the Financial Information Unit against money laundering imposed stricter control on operations.
The most common gold coins on the market are the Mexican, Chilean, South African Kruger Rand, and the English Old Pound and Elizabeth Pound. The composition of these pieces is different, with which the title of the gold varies (they are not completely pure because they are composed of other metals that give them greater hardness).
The weight of each coin and the value given to them by the market also vary. For example, an Old pound weighs 7.3 grams of fine gold, against 31.1 for a Kruger Rand and 37.5 for a Mexican.
There is also a national offering that is highly sought after locally: the Argentines, which weigh 7.2 grams of fine gold. This case serves to exemplify that the same weight does not necessarily indicate the same value: the coin of the year 89 has a higher cost than the others, because they were minted in fewer quantities, Burelli explained. The complete collection of 10 Argentine coins was offered yesterday in the City for around 28,000 pesos.
Below, we show you the different prices corresponding to yesterday, according to Banco Ciudad.