Email of the day
Comment of the Day

November 12 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day

on gold plated tungsten:
“I have done my best to check if the story below is a hoax. It appears not. I still find it hard to believe but if it's true then God help us all. Can someone please tell me this is not true? Why has this been kept quiet by the media?

“Please view the short video then check the other link below.”

Eoin Treacy's view Thank you for these links which others may also have an interest in. The gold plated tungsten story has been doing the rounds for quite some time and returned to notoriety in September when some bars turned up in New York. However, it is quite a leap to go from the existence of gold plated tungsten bars to inferring that the gold in vaults all over the world has been replaced with such counterfeits.

The simple fact is that as the price of gold appreciates, the incentive for criminals to manufacture counterfeit products becomes ever more attractive. If gold plated tungsten was not prevalent before, we can anticipate that it will become more so in future. This presents some peculiar challenges for anyone intent on holding physical gold.

Holding physical gold has always presented a challenge from a storage perspective. It is for this reason that companies such as exist. The alternative is to buy a safe. Swedish listed Assa Abloy is one of the world's largest lock and safe manufacturers, yields 1.99% and remains in a relatively consistent uptrend. While somewhat overextended relative to the 200-day MA at present, a sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. US listed Tyco International has been ranging above its 200-day MA since August and a sustained move below $26 would be required to question medium-term uptrend consistency.

Mrs. Treacy has a jewellery business and when she decided to begin selling gold in her store we did quite a lot of research on how to identify pure gold from gold plated on another metal. The first lesson is that what one might consider a reputable dealer usually charges well for their services and even then there will always be a doubt about purity.

The vast majority of testing methods rely on acids or salt solutions and require that the item is abraded in order to allow the probe access to the underlying metal. This is time consuming and unreliable for heavily plated items. The simple answer is that there is only one non-invasive way to test gold for purity.

X-Ray Fluorescence machines are the only foolproof way of testing one's gold without damaging the bar. This is particularly important for investors who wish to maintain the deliverable quality of their holdings. The machines are expensive and typically run at more than £25000. The only people I have heard of that use these machines are scrap wholesalers, fabricators and miners.

From the perspective of an investor who is concerned about the integrity of their gold holdings, the alternatives range from buying expensive testing machinery to buying gold that is unlikely to ever be tested. The latter is the more cost effective route and is one of the reasons ETFs backed by physical gold are so popular. Trading gold futures, CFDs or via spread-bets in the UK and Ireland also removes this risk.

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