When we think of gold, we may naturally conjure images of gold bars stored in huge bank vaults. Our own storage facility, known simply as The Vault, reflects that very image. But precious metals come in a variety of forms, with investors having the opportunity to make buying choices that are flexible, allowing for some very practical uses of gold. Let’s take a closer look at this precious metal in its varying forms:
Would you eat gold?
Although a great meal can always lift the mood, how many of us have considered eating gold? Chefs, food producers and wine experts are increasingly relying on gold as an ingredient, aiming to transform their creations. Something you may also be unaware of – Gold is listed as a safe food additive by the EU as E175.
The owners of a burger restaurant in New York City, for example, decided to create a hamburger that was a little bit different: the burger came wrapped in gold leaf, with a price tag of more than $600. Although this was evidently meant as something of a publicity stunt, the expensive burger was entirely edible.
Chef Domenico Crolla decided that he would turn the humble pizza into a luxury meal. Topping off his pizza with flakes of 24-carat gold, he raised $4,200 for charity when he auctioned off the final meal on eBay.
Meanwhile, the world’s most expensive dessert was created, filled with luxurious chocolate. Served in a solid gold bowl, lined with a gold bracelet and eaten, of course, with a gold spoon, it was estimated to be worth some $25,000 and won a place within the Guinness Book of World Records.
Communicating with gold
Gold has two properties that make it ideal for use within consumer electronics: it’s an excellent conductor and it doesn’t tarnish easily. As a result of these factors, you may well discover that there is a small amount of gold within your smartphone or laptop. The next time that you make a phone call, it’s likely that you’ll be holding a small sliver of gold close to your ear.
Of course, gold may often come close to your ears in another way: the most popular use of gold is in jewellery, with the precious metal’s ability to retain its lustre ensuring that it is an excellent choice in earrings, bracelets, necklaces and other pieces of jewellery. Since gold was first used by humans in the early bronze age, some 6000 years ago, it has always been prized for its attractive qualities. It was particularly prized in ancient Egypt and the coffin of the famous ‘Tutankhamun’ was documented as containing 110 kg of pure gold – that’s over 3500 troy ounces!
The use of gold within coins dates back centuries, although it’s unlikely that you’ll have much gold within your wallet these days. A shiny, newly minted pound coin, for example, may seem to have a golden glow; in reality, however, pound coins don’t contain any gold at all: they are minted using a mixture of copper, nickel and zinc.
Coins that contain gold are more often made specifically for investors, or for those looking to commemorate particular events. The Royal Mint have a dedicated range of gold coins, which have been produced with investors in mind. The flagship coin, The Sovereign, was once in circulation, having first been struck back in 1489. Today, this 22-carat coin is a popular choice for investors, given its high level of purity. Our Sovereign, Lunar, Queen’s Beasts and Britannia coins are legal tender in the UK, which offers the additional advantage of ensuring that they are free of capital gains tax.
We end our tour of gold by coming back to where we started, with the realisation that it is possible to buy solid gold bars. You can buy gold bullion direct from The Royal Mint and with bars weighing in at as little as one gram, you can soon start to build a collection, even with a relatively small investment. Alternatively, many investors are now choosing to buy ‘Signature Gold’ which allows you to purchase gold from as little as £20.
Whether you are intent upon creating your own vault full of gold bars, or maybe enjoying a pizza with a golden topping, we hope that you will derive enjoyment from this precious metal.