Glossary/FAQs

This Glossary is in alphabetical order and explains key words and terms used in relation to precious metals and this site.

Advocate

An advocate is one who speaks for or on behalf of another person, group etc. especially in a legal context. It is one who encourages support for something by speaking in favour of that person or group.

Alloy

From the Latin alligare, which means, “to bind, unite or mix ” Pure gold and pure silver are often mixed with one or more metals, usually base (non-precious) metals such as copper, silver and zinc. The result is a lowering of the purity, an increase in hardness and strength, and a change in the color. Alloys of gold and silver are used both for coins and jewellry. The most common alloy measures for gold are 22, 18, 14, 10, 9 or 8 carat. A less common alloy is 19.2 carat used in Portugal. An additional consideration is the 24 carat gold used in the Chinese chuk kam jewellry market. This is an alloy of 990 gold with 1% titanium, which makes a very hard gold. The final color of the gold alloy is determined by the added base metals. Copper lends to a red shade, silver to green shades and zinc lends to yellow. There exists no natural occurring white gold. What is referred to, as “white gold” is gold alloyed with nickel or palladium, often with some zinc and copper to improve malleability. Nickel has a better hardening effect than palladium, but is used less today due to potential toxicity. Adding copper to gold tends to produce a greater hardness of the gold alloy than adding silver or zinc. In the case of silver alloy, copper is the usual choice. A mix of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper is the traditional mix, and is known as Sterling Silver, which has been used in coins for over 1,000 years. This alloy mix does little to change the color of the silver.

Alluvial gold

Also known as “placer gold” it exists as small particles or nuggets of gold, found in easily accessible surface material eroded from larger gold deposits known as veins or lodes.

Approved Refiner

A refiner whose gold and silver bars are accepted as ‘good delivery’ in the spot market or on futures exchanges. Also described as ‘acceptable’ in the London gold market.

Assay

A test used to determine the purity of gold either as ore, bullion, coin or jewellry. This has traditionally been achieved by lightly scratching the gold item on what is called a touchstone, which is a mildly abrasive, dark colored piece of jasper or quartz. This leaves a fine trace of the metal in a line on the touchstone, to which an acid is then applied. The trace changes color and is then matched to standard marks in order to determine the purity. This is where the phrase “the acid test” originated. An ancient and more accurate method is that of “testing by fire” known as a “fire” assay or cupellation, and is basically the same process used to refine gold from ore. There are five steps to the assay process. 1. For a “refined” gold assay, a small sample of the gold to be tested is weighed. In the case of ore assaying, a quantity of raw material is crushed and a sample taken. 2.This is placed in a small crucible or cupel, with lead oxide, a carbon reducing agent and fluxes of silica sand, borax and fluorite, and melted in a muffle furnace. 3. The molten contents are poured into a cone and cooled, leaving the lead, gold and any silver in a single “button” at the bottom. 4. This lead button is then placed into a cuple, which is a dish made of bone ash, and placed into a cupelling furnace to be re-melted. During this process the lead is oxidized and absorbed and into the cupel, leaving any gold and silver as a small button. 5. The silver is then dissolved out of the bead with nitric acid, and the remainder is pure gold. This is then reweighed and compared with the weight of the original test sample. In the case of an ore assay, a report can be given as to the gold and silver content per given ore sample tested.

Assayer

Is a “tester” of the fineness or purity of precious metals, either in bullion form or as coin or jewelry. Each assayer should have recognized credentials, and their own recognized assay mark. Internationally, the London Bullion Market Association accepts the assay mark of fifty- eight refineries in twenty-five countries on its good delivery list for gold, and 62 refineries in twenty two countries on its good delivery list for silver. Additionally the LBMA has a list of accepted former assayers that produced acceptable bars. Numerous other countries have their own registration of assayers and marks.

Atomic Weight

Gold has an atomic weight of 196.967 being the weight of an atom of gold to that of hydrogen.

Au

The Chemical symbol for gold, from the Latin aurum, meaning ‘shining dawn’. Auroma was the roman goddess of dawn.

Avoirdupois Ounce

French word meaning "goods of weight" which equals 28.35 grams. This is not used in gold measurement.

Bank for International Settlements

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) based in Basel, Switzerland, was created in 1930 originally as a financial institution to coordinate the payment of war repatriations between European banks, but many of its functions were taken over by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after World War II. It is often referred to as “the central bank for central banks”, and has been widely used by central banks to buy and sell gold discreetly on their behalf or to act as intermediary in transfers of gold between themselves. Central banks can also swap gold with the BIS for foreign exchange.

Baht

A weight measure of Gold used in Thailand. The Gold purity is a 965.

Bar

Gold is marketed in a wide range of bars, some of which are particular to individual countries. Their weight is always quoted in troy ounces or in grams (kilograms). For international acceptance or delivery however, they must conform to specific standards set by the London Bullion Market Association or futures exchanges and bear the marks of recognized smelters and assayers. The main bars traded internationally are the 400 troy ounces (12.5 kilo) good delivery bar or the 1-kilo bar (32.15 troy ounces), such bars normally being 995 fine or 999.9 fine. American futures exchanges normally accept 100 troy ounce (3.11 kilos) for delivery. Many countries offer various small bars, ingots and wafers in weights ranging from 1 gram to 500 grams.

Other popular bars traded include:

Baht (Thailand) = 0.47 troy ounces or 15.4 grams

Tael (Hong Kong) = 1.2 troy ounce or 37.3 grams

Ten tolas (Indian sub-continent/Arabian gulf) = 3.75 troy ounces or 116.6 grams

Black gold

A rare form of gold, where the black coloration is due to traces of bismuth.

Bretton Woods Agreement (1944)

This agreement, signed at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1944, set the framework for the post-war international monetary system with fixed exchange rates, and a gold exchange standard under which currencies were exchangeable into gold at stable rates. It also led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund.

Bullion

The word bullion originally meant ‘mint’ or ‘melting place’ from the old French word bouillon (boiling), but became the generic term for refined bars or ingots of gold and silver. By the eighteenth century, the Bullion Office at the Bank of England was the crossroads of most gold transactions for the London market, just as many traders call themselves bullion banks today. Although originally used in reference to bar gold, it now includes bullion coins.

Today, bullion is a term used to describe gold and silver in its pure form that being 22 carat gold or greater. For example the American Eagle gold coin and the British sovereign gold coin are considered bullion coins and are 22 carat gold. Some Jurisdictions however determine bullion by a more technical definition, whereby they look at the process in which it came into being. For example, poured gold of a purity of 995 or greater is determined as being bullion under Australian ordinance, but 995 in fabricated form is not classified as bullion.

Bullion Coin

Bullion coins, as distinct from numismatic coins for collectors, were originally privately issued (600 BC). In modern history they then were used as legal tender coins, and since the 1980’s have been made by governments and as private mintings to appeal to the small investor.

The first one-ounce legal tender gold coin, without a declared face value, was released in 1970 in South Africa. The Krugerrand sold at a premium of 3% over its gold content. Its success was so great that it was followed by the Canadian Maple Leaf, China’s Panda, Australia’s Nugget, Britain’s Britannia, the United States’ Eagle, Belgium’s ECU and Austria’s Philharmoniker. The demand for these coins was such that they were soon followed by a ½ ounce, ¼ ounce and 1/10-ounce version. The challenge to investors was that these coins, being legal tender were “owned” by the issuing government, and the investor was merely the bearer or the coin, not the owner. This encumbrance does not exist with private issue gold or silver coin. Today a gold coin of 22 carat or better is referred to as a Bullion Coin. These could be either government or private issue. The British Sovereign and the American Eagle are two 22-carat modern examples referred to as bullion coins.

Carat

The purity of gold is described by its fineness’ (parts per 1,000) or by the carat (karat in the USA). The word comes from the Greek karation, the Italian carato and the Arabic qirat, all meaning ‘fruit of the carob tree’, as the carob seed was formerly used to balance the scales in Oriental bazaars. This is not to be confused with the carat used for the measurement of the gemstones, which is a measurement of mass. Because pure gold is soft and liable to wear, it is often alloyed with other metals. The presence of gold verses other metals in any non-pure gold item is defined by the carat scale. Pure gold is 24 carat, or no less than 995 fine. The proportion in jewellry varies considerably from country to country, and is preserved by either statute or custom. The advantage of a lower carat content is increased strength, hardness, and hence is wear and scratch resistance. As a result a wider range of subtle colors can be attained, hinting of green, yellow, red and “white gold”, depending on the balance of other metals added. The carat stamped on each piece of jewelry is often guaranteed by an official hallmark.

Casting

This process of forming a shaped article, by pouring molten gold or silver into a mould. Jewelry is generally molded by the ‘lost wax’ or investment casting process. In this process, the item to be made of gold or silver is first made of wax. That wax figure is then set in plaster leaving a small external opening. Molten gold or silver is then poured into the opening, vaporizing the wax and filling the shape of the plaster. Gold and silver bars, such as good delivery bars or kilo bars are also cast by pouring molten gold or silver into ingot bar containers. This is not to be confused with small bars and ingots, which are stamped out of a metal strip in a similar method to coin manufacture. Continuous casting allows a constant shape such as wire, strips and tubes to be drawn from the bottom of a mould as the metal cools and solidifies.

Certificates

Gold certificates have long been issued as a convenient way of confirming an investor’s fully paid-up ownership of gold without going through the actual process of delivery. Historically they began their life as “warehouse receipts” for gold coin stored in the banks vault. In modern times, select banks or bullion houses have only issued certificates. Such certificates confirm the ownership of a specific amount of gold at a bank or depository, payable on demand. It is a particularly useful way of avoiding value added or sales tax payable if physical delivery was to occur. It is understood that during the years when Germany charged value added tax and Luxembourg did not, savvy German investors, acquired certificates for gold held on their behalf by Luxembourg branches of German banks. Similarly American residents in the past were able to avoid sales tax on gold holdings by acquiring certificates for gold held in vaults in Delaware. Very few gold or silver certificate systems exist today.

Coins

It would appear that the first coin ever produced was the privately issued "Lydian Lion" in about 600 BC. Interestingly they were made of a blend of silver and gold, known as "electrum", and were about 50-60% gold, minted by King Alyattes in Sardis, Lydia, Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).

Thereafter, gold, silver and copper coins came into increasing usage as a means of exchange. Silver proved to be the most popular, simply because of its greater natural occurrence in the earths crust than gold, yet still being a “rare” metal. There is fifteen times more silver in the earths crust than gold. Many government worldwide, over the centuries have used gold and silver coinage, only to all fall to the same temptation of debasing the coin by replacing the precious metals with common metals, thereby permitting mass issuance of legal tender without any intrinsic value as backing.

Debase

To decrease the amount of gold or silver in a coin without a corresponding change to the face value. This practice was employed by every empire, as rulers soon realized that it was possible to reduce their coins intrinsic value, without changing the weight or outward appearance of the coin, simply by using more common metals such as bronze or copper and less gold or silver. It tended to coincide with the demise of the Empire.

Delivery

The actual transfer of the ownership of gold and silver or bullion certificates, without necessarily taking physical possession of the metal. This is achieved by transferring the deposit receipt or certificate, issued by the warehouse, vault or bank, to the new owner.

Dental Gold

Gold has been in dental use for nearly 3,000 years. Its resistance to corrosion, biocompatibility and its ability to be variably malleable through alloying, make it the perfect choice. Dentistry alloy metals include, platinum, palladium, silver, copper and zinc. The gold content of these alloys will vary from 620-900 fine depending on the application.

Dinar

The name given to the circulating currencies today in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Macedonia and Serbia. Additionally, the Islamic Gold Dinar is a 22k (.917) gold coin weighing 4.25 grams. In recent times it was produced and promoted in Malaysia, by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia for international trade, domestic savings and religious observances. The Gold Dinar is not a legal tender coin, as it does not have a monetary face value, but its value rests in its gold weight. The name Dinar is derived from the Roman coin, the Denarius.

Dirham or Dirhem

Originally the word “dirham” was derived from the Drachma, a Greek coin, but today it is the name given to circulating currencies in Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Qatar, Jordan and Tajikistan. In pre Islamic times when the Byzantine Empire controlled the Levant, much trade took place with Arabia leading Arabs to adopt the dirham as their currency. By the end of the 7th century the silver dirham coin became standard Islamic currency weighing 2.975 grams of fine silver, and remains so today. Under the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Dram as it was known, was traded at a weight of approximately 3.2 grams and in Egypt in 1895 the accepted weight of the dirham was just over 3 grams.

Dry Blowing

A technique adopted in alluvial gold mining, where air currents are used to separate small particles of gold from the other dust, dirt and small pieces of rock.

Electrum

An alloy of silver and gold. The Greeks initially used the term "white gold" to describe this alloy, but eventually used "elektron," a word that became "electrum" to the Romans.

Fabricated Gold or Fabrication

Gold that has been manufactured from the initial cast ingot stage, into semi-finished or final products. This involves mechanical shaping or investment casting to shape and size assembly, to produce jewelry, coin, dental, electronics and other industrial uses and includes gold and silver in alloyed form.

Fine Ounce

Refers to a troy ounce of gold that is 995 pure, or to a troy ounce of silver that is 999 pure.

Fine Weight

The weight of gold or silver contained in a coin or bullion, calculated by: gross weight x fineness.

Foil

Thin sheets of gold, less than 0.15mm thick. These are used in space programs as a radiation shield such as lunar modules of the US Apollo spacecraft, and in artistic decorations and cultural adornments.

Fool’s Gold

Pyrites of iron sulfide, which is gold-like in appearance, and often taken as being gold to the untrained eye.

Force Majeure

French for "greater force", is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as war, strike, riot, crime, act of nature (e.g. flooding, earthquake, volcano), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations.

Fort Knox

In 1933, the United States outlawed the private ownership of gold by its citizens with some minor exceptions being rare antique and unusual items, and items of religious significance, egg Star of David, Crucifix, Wedding rings and Saint Christopher medallions, etc. The government then forcibly acquired the nations gold at USD20.67 an ounce, and needed somewhere to store their hoard, so Fort Knox was built in Kentucky in 1935. Gold was then “re-valued” to $35 an ounce. At the peak in 1949 the U.S. held over 22,000 tonnes of gold, virtually half of all gold mined to that date, most of it in For Knox. There is much debate by conservative thinkers as to how much gold today, if any, remains in Fort Knox.

Four Nines (999.9)

It is generally accepted that there is no such standard of 100% pure gold, and that 999.9 parts per thousand gold is the highest purity of gold bullion or coin available. This is not technically correct as a superior grade of gold wire is made to five nines (999.99) but this is for select elements of the electronics industry.

Gilding

The covering with a thin layer of gold, an ornament, watch case or cigarette lighter, or such bathroom fittings as taps, usually by electroplating but traditionally done “mechanically” by coating in gold leaf.

Gold

A yellow metal, noted for its rarity, resistance to corrosion, malleability and ductility. The chemical symbol is Au, from Aurora or dawn. It can be beaten into leaves only 0.00001mm thick, and once ounce can be drawn into 50 miles of thin gold wire. It is dissolved by cyanide and by aqua regia, a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, which is applicable to the mining of gold. It has been used for ornamental purposes, a storehouse of wealth and as a medium of exchange for over 7,000 years. The main properties of gold are:

Atomic Number: 79

Atomic Weight: 196.967

Melting Point: 1063degrees C

Specific gravity: 19.32 –the sixth heaviest metal

Hardness: (Moh’s Scale) 2.5-3.0

Tensile Strength: 11.9

Found in the Earth’s crust at 0.005ppm. It is estimated that nearly 130,000 tonnes have been mined.

Gold beater

A craftsman who makes gold leaf or gold foil, by continually hammering a ribbon or square piece of pure gold.

Gold and Silver Standard

The Gold and Silver Standard is a term used to describe two similar but distinctly different systems. One is a monetary system where gold and silver coin, and notes redeemable in gold and silver, form the whole circulation of currency within a country. Here a value is placed on the gold and silver exchangeable for legal tender, thus determining that gold and silver are answerable to the dictates of legal tender, thus prohibiting the legal tender to be valued by the standard set by open exchange gold and silver. The other describes a gold and silver standard which in its pure form, determines that gold and silver is the currency used for exchange. Here the purchasing power of the respective precious metal is determined by open market, and it alone determines the exchange value for goods and services. There cannot exist any statutory legal tender currency exchange rate “price fixing” for the gold or silver in this system, as this then places legal tender on an equal footing with these precious metals, which it can never be.

Gold Leaf

Gold leaf has been used for decoration of tombs, statues, cathedrals, temples, fine books and picture frames since Egyptian times. It is still often preferred for adorning the domes or ceilings of prominent public buildings and palaces, as its resistance to corrosion makes it extremely durable. The craft of beating gold into a wafer-thin leaf has existed for millennia, and has changed little over that time. In 1352 BC, King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, was overlaid with gold leaf as fine as any made today. Gold leaf manufacturing is a simple process and although a dying art, is still practiced by a limited few goldbeaters today. Traditionally the gold beater would stands before a granite block set on a wood base or a cut off tree trunk, as this gives bounce and rhythm to continuous hammering required to “flatten” the gold. Today gold is initially rolled into thin ribbons, shaped, and beaten continually with an automated beating machine to produce delicately thin gold suitable for the gilding application.

Gold Leasing

Leasing emerged as a means to provide jewelry manufacturers and other professional users of gold with one of their most expensive business assets without them buying it. It is often cheaper to borrow gold than money, so it all seemed logical. The challenge is that the borrowed gold must be repaid… in gold… Often the solution was to borrow more gold to pay the previous loan, and the debt levels grew. The immediate benefit was that a jeweler could stock his shelves with much merchandise in the hope of realizing greater profits. Should the price of gold go up though, his profit on selling jewelry quickly eroded. Others in need of gold reasoned similarly, but debt is debt, no matter how you disguise it. Lease rates can be a fair indicator of the supply and demand on gold. The higher the lease rate the greater the demand. The term the gold is purchased for is relevant here. The central banks are the main lenders of gold and the borrowers are the larger industry participants. The lending and borrowing of gold is generally only the domain of bullion bankers, mining companies, and jewelry manufacturers. Central banks are the predominant source of leased gold, their reasoning being a need to earn a return on an otherwise “stagnant” asset. However there are those who chose to speculate on the lease rate “shifts”, which is done through options and derivate trading.

Gold Overlay

An alternative term for rolled gold.

Gold Plating

The coating of an article with a layer of gold, often by electroplating.

Good Delivery Bar

The ultimate seal of approval on a gold or silver bar is that it satisfies the exacting ‘good delivery’ requirements of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). According to the LBMA Good Delivery Rules, all bars must have marks that include, the stamp of the refiner, the assay mark, the fineness, the serial number and the year of manufacture. A good delivery bar of gold must contain 350 to 430 troy ounces of gold with a minimum fineness of 995 parts per thousand. All markings on a gold bar are to be on the larger surface. A good delivery bar of silver must contain 750 to 1100 troy ounces of silver with a minimum fineness of 999 parts per thousand. Markings on a silver bar can be either on the larger surface or the end of the bar, the latter being a pneumatic dot matrix system. The LBMA also specifies that the bars must be of good appearance and easy to handle and to stack. The good delivery bars are the medium for international trade and the spot price for gold and silver is in reference to these bars. Refer: http://www.lbma.org.uk

Grain

One of the earliest units of weight for gold was the grain measurement. It was determined by the weight of one grain seed, taken from the middle of the ear of barley.

1 grain = 0.0648 grams or 0.002083 troy ounces.

15.43 grains = 1 gram

480.6 grains = 1 troy ounce

24 grains = 1 pennyweight.

Gross Weight

The total weight of gold or silver in bar, coin or shipment of scrap, as opposed to the weight of the fine gold or silver found in the item. For example, a one troy ounce gold coin of 916 fine will have a gross weight of 1.092 troy ounces.

Hallmark

A mark, or number of marks, made on gold, silver items to confirm that its quality is up to the correct standard. The concept of a “hallmark” dates back to the Byzantine Empire in the fourth century AD, where a system of “marks” was used on silver. From the late Middle Ages, hallmarking was administered by government-authorized assayers, who in time developed the “master mark”, which was the initials and coat of arms of the goldsmith or silversmith. The “master craftsman” was therefore responsible for the standard of goods leaving the workshop, and today the “responsibility mark” is still recognized in France as le poincon de maitre, literally “the markers punch”. During the thirteenth century England and France began to formalize hallmarking. The Goldsmiths Statute of 1260 in France was followed by the statute of King Edward I of England in 1300 that demanded that all silver articles must meet the Sterling Silver Standard, and that such items should be assayed by “guardians of the craft”, and then marked with a leopard’s head.

In 1327, King Edward III of England granted a charter to the “Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths”. This body, based at London’s “Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths” is where the term “hall-mark” originated.

Hard Money.

Historically this phrase was used to mean, quite literally, money that was hard, like gold or silver, as opposed to paper notes. A broader definition now embraces ‘hard currency’, which comprises such major currencies as the dollar, the Deutschmark, Sterling, the Swiss franc and the Yen, which are seen as ‘hard’ in comparison with the rapidly depreciating paper and for that reason have the appeal that hard money had in earlier times.

Hong Kong Gold and Silver Exchange Society

Hong Kong’s exchange first opened in 1910 and in 1918 became the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society, known as Kam Ngan for gold and silver. It is accredited as being the world’s first actual gold exchange. Trading has traditionally been in Chinese taels, and Hong Kong Dollars, but the exchange now trades the popular I kilo investment bar of 999.9 fineness. www.cgse.com.hk

Istanbul Gold Exchange

The Istanbul Gold Exchange opened on 26th July 1995, re- confirming Turkey’s historic role as an important financial center and trade crossroad. Turkey is a country where gold and international trade has enjoyed a long history, and such is the inherent appreciation of gold among its peoples, that even when the importation of gold into Turkey was prohibited (pre 1980), smuggling gold volumes into the country reached 80 tonnes a year. The popular one-kilo investment bar is now traded in Turkey for spot delivery only, in either Turkish Lira or US dollars.

Kilo bar

A one-kilogram bar of fine gold, widely traded in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia, is available as a 995 fine gold bar, which comprises 31.990 troy ounces, a 999 bar, of 32.119 troy ounces, and a 999.9 bar of 32.148 troy ounces.

Kim-Thanh

The wafer thin bars of Kim-Thanh were widely known throughout South-East Asia before and during the Vietnam War in 1970. They were a gold “bar” of approximately 2” x 4” in size, weighing approximately 550 grams of 990 gold, and were used by many refugees and boat people from Vietnam and Kampuchea as the sole means of “trading” their way to freedom, and taking some of their wealth with them.

Legal Tender

Officially, minted coins and printed paper money, which according to statute is to be submitted and accepted as a medium of exchange within a given community for any payment of debts, based on the face value of the coin or paper. As this form of currency has no intrinsic value, it relies totally on the confidence the community has in the issuing government, and looses any perception of value as a result of the issuing government loosing credibility.

Loco

The place at which gold or silver is physically held and to which a particular price applies. The prime example is loco London gold, which means not only that the gold is held in London, but also that the price quoted is for delivery there. Many banks and bullion dealers quote a loco London price automatically, and many institutions keep at least part of their position loco London, although the quote does not apply exclusively to London. Gold may be quoted loco Zurich, New York, Tokyo or any other recognized bullion centre.

London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)

The London Bullion Market Association was established in 1987 to represent the interest of the participants in the wholesale bullion market. It also carries out the functions previously performed by the London Gold Market, and the London Silver Market, in connection with the technical aspects of deliverable material, the rules governing application for the inclusion in the list of Acceptable Refiners and the unified system of market practices in the areas of clearing and settlement. Membership is open to those companies and other organizations, which are actively engaged in trading, refining, melting, assaying, transporting gold or silver within or for persons in the UK.

M1 money supply

Legal tender notes and coins in circulation, plus private-sector current accounts and deposit accounts that can be transferred by cheque.

Mexico

Mexico has a unique history, as they deployed their quest for economic and spiritual freedom. Mexico went through its own “Reformation” in the mid 19th Century known as “La Reforma” which transformed Mexico into a Nation State. This Reformation brought in the 1857 Mexican Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech; freedom of conscience; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly; and the right to bear arms. It guaranteed basic civil liberties for all Mexicans; reaffirmed the abolition of slavery; eliminated debtor prison and all forms of personal servitude; secularized education; and greatly curtailed the power of the Catholic Church. It eliminated all forms of cruel and unusual punishment, including the death penalty. It eliminated all internal tariffs within Mexico, abrogated government recognition of titles of nobility, hereditary honors, and monopolies, and it abolished special court systems outside of government control such as the Church courts for Catholic priests and military courts for soldiers, that had been established under Spanish rule and were championed by conservatives. It provided that any slave who set foot on Mexican territory would become free by that fact alone, and would acquire the right to protection by the nation's laws, thus making Mexico a haven for African Americans escaping slavery in the United States.

Mint

While most governments have their own mint for making legal tender coins, only specialist mints produce bullion coins. The principal mints striking gold and or silver coins are:

Australia; Perth Mint, operated by the Western Australia government’s Gold Corporation makes the Nugget Bullion coin and special issues, such as Sydney 2000 Olympic Coins. The Royal Australian Mint mainly issues collector coins.

Austria: Austrian Mint; making Philharmoniker coin and formerly, the 100 Corona re-strike.

Canada: Royal Canadian Mint; making Maple Leaf bullion coin and special issues;

Chine; China Mint, Beijing, making Panda Coin

Mexico; Casa de Moneda, making Centenario coin and special issue

Singapore; Singapore Mint, part of Chartered Industries, making some special gold coin issues;

South Africa; The South African Mint, making Krugerrand and some special issues of one and two rand coins;

United Kingdom; Royal Mint, making Britannia bullion coin, Sovereigns and some special issue proof coins for other clients;

United States of America; United States Mint, making the Eagle bullion coin.

Nugget

Chunks or pieces of gold, mainly found in alluvial deposits are known as nuggets. The largest nugget is called the “Welcome Stranger”, found in Australia in 1858, which weighed 2,284 ounces (71.04 kilos). It is not unusual for nuggets to have a gold content over 900 fine and may even be close to 995, and they are often sold at a premium over their gold content due to their uniqueness, and are in demand from collectors, and the jewelry industry.

Paper money

The first record of paper currency is found in China around 800 AD during the Tang Dynasty (618AD - 907AD). Europe didn’t start using paper currency until the 17th century AD.

Pennyweight

Originally, the weight of a silver penny in Britain in the Middle Ages. 20 pennyweights equal one troy ounce. This measure is still widely used in North America as the unit of weight in the jewelry trade.

Penoles

Penoles head office is in Torreon Mexico and is number one in the world in silver production. They put out 300 metric tones of fine silver per month. Approximately 50% of Penoles production comes from their own mines, and the balance purchased as raw screenings from other Mexican mines. Their main silver mining facility is Fresnillo, which is the world’s richest silver mine, and is 100% owned by Penoles. From their humble mining beginnings in 1887, their client list today includes the prestigious Swiss investor market, International Industry, Central Banks. www.penoles.com

Proof Coins

The finest quality of coin struck with specially cleaned and prepared dies and usually marketed at a premium for collectors or presentation. Only limited numbers of coins are struck per die in order to maintain high reproduction standards. A small number of proof coins are usually made each year, in both base metal legal tender and bullion coin.

Pure Gold

Although technically there exists no such commodity, gold that is of 999.9 parts per 1,000 is regarded as pure gold.

Rolled Gold/Rolled Gold Plate

The process in which a layer of carat gold alloy is mechanically bonded to another metal. Generally the term tends to be interchangeable with ‘gold fill’, but in the United States, the term “rolled gold” or “rolled gold plate” is used to describe an object where the proportion of gold alloy is less than 1/20th of the weight of the entire article. If it is more than 1/20th, it will be classified as gold filled.

Shekel

An ancient Hebrew unit of weight. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, a shekel-weight is 11.4 grams. Diggings in the Middle East have uncovered limestone shekel-weights dating back to King Solomon (circa 1,000 BC) with their weight denomination engraved. These denominations were tallied up, the stones weighed, and divided by the total of the shekel-weight count. The result was 11.4 grams.

Silver

A chemical element with the symbol Ag Latin: argentum, from the Ancient Greek: argentos. A soft white, lustrous metal. It has the highest electrical conductivity of any metal, and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. Silver is a natural antiseptic and has antimicrobial uses. Alexander the Great insisted that his officers had silver water bottles, as the silver assisted to keep the water free from bacteria. In the days before refrigeration in America, a silver dollar placed in a bottle of milk prolonged its shelf life and freshness. Silver has been used as a currency since the time of Abraham (circa 2300BC)

Atomic Number: 47

Atomic Weight: 107.8682

Melting Point: 961.78degrees C

Specific gravity: 10.5

Hardness: (Moh’s Scale) 2.5

It is found in the Earth’s crust at 0.075ppm

Silver: Gold Ratio

The number of ounces of silver that can be bought with one ounce of gold. Historically, the ratio has found equilibrium of around 15:1. This is somewhat logical as this is the ratio that silver to gold exists in creation, as found in the earths crust. There have been historical periods where it has fluctuated, particularly from continent to continent, which again is logical, but as the world shrinks due to advanced transport and communication, it is conceivable that the equilibrium of 15:1 should be found again. Historically in Mexico and South America, where silver was mined, the ratio has been 1:17; in Europe, 15:1, and in India and China it was 13:1. Naturally the variation in the ratio determines flows of the respective metals, which ultimately balances the equation again to 15:1. During the sixteenth century silver was more highly valued in the east so it was exported there from Europe as payment for goods, while gold tended to be preferred in Europe. After the general demonetization of silver in the second half of the nineteenth century that constant alliance broke. The silver to gold ratio was as wide as 1:90 in the 1930s, returning to 17: 1 in 1980 when the Hunt brothers bought heavily into the silver market. Its position today has found favor with many conservative investors positioning themselves to capitalize on the anticipated return of 15:1

Solid Gold

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission permits any article of 10 carat gold or more that is not hollow to be called solid gold.

Souk

The Souk, sometimes written suk, is the local name for ‘market’ throughout the Arab world. A souk, such as the Dubai gold souk, can often take in many streets, along with all adjoining laneways, crammed with small booths and shops selling gold jewelry, coins and small gold bars. The gold items are sold at a spot price, plus a value add margin for workmanship and artistic creativity.

Spot Price

Sometimes referred to as the ‘cash price’, is the current price in the physical market for immediate delivery of gold. In the absence of a stated location, this is normally taken to mean delivery loco London, two working days after the date of the deal. Not to be confused with gold futures markets, where spot means the current trading month.

Sterling Silver

A mix of 92.5% silver, with 7.5% copper. This form of silver has been used in coins for over 1,000 years. It increases hardness and improves durability.

Taxation

The confiscatory mechanisms designed to pilfer the fruits of ones labor and /or assets, such vice being endorsed and enforced by statute.

Tax haven

An environment where the fruits of ones labor and/or ones assets, enjoys less fiscal confiscation than it would outside that environment.

Tael

Chinese unit of weight being 1.20337 troy ounces or 37.4290 grams. Trading in tael is done on the Hong Kong market and in Taiwan. Standard fineness of the Hong Kong tael bar is 990, but in Taiwan, 5 and 10 tael bars of 999.9 fine are common. The bars traded are normally 1, 5 and 10 taels. The basic contract on the Hong Kong Gold and Silver Exchange is a lot of 100 taels, made up of twenty, 5-tael bars.

Tola

The unit of weight for gold on the Indian sub-continent is a tola, which equals 0.375 ounces or 11.6638 grams of 999 fineness. The 999 ten tola bars are popular in India, and the Arabian Gulf States.

Torreon

Torreon is the capital city of the state of Coahuila in Mexico, and is home to Penoles the worlds largest silver producer. The symbol of pride for the residents of Torreon is "Cristo de las Noas" This is a massive statue of Jesus with extended arms overlooking Torreon. It stands over 70 feet tall and weighs 580 ton. Known as the “Christ Redeemer” it symbolizes divine protection to the inhabitants of Torreon. This statue takes pride of place on the top of "Las Noas", a hill that is 220 meters above Torreon, where the entire city can be viewed. The predominant faith in Torreon (as in all Mexico) is that of the Roman Catholic Church, but with a strikingly obvious difference.... it is Jesus that is openly honored. The absence of figurines and references to Mary’s divinity in this city is somewhat unusual for such a prominent Catholic community. The following encounter by a visitor to Torreon is worth noting. “When a local businessman in Torreon, offered that he was a Catholic, he then enquired if I was. I informed him that I was a Reformer, to which he comfortably replied without need to think, while simultaneously gesturing toward the statue of Jesus on the hill.... “Then we both have the same boss!” “ The prominent place of Jesus in the daily life of the residents of Torroen is refreshingly evident.

Touchstone

The modern touchstone is a mildly abrasive, dark colored piece of jasper or quartz that used to test purity of gold. The touchstone process was possibly the first method of assaying gold and was used at least as early as 500 BC, when the touchstones were made of slate. Excavations at the ancient city of Taxila in North West Pakistan show that the prosperity of this city was due to it being well positioned at the crossroads of three great trade routes. It was here that a slate touchstone was uncovered with traces of gold still on its surface. The touchstone process involves lightly stroking the gold item on the touchstone until it leaves a fine trace of the metal. Acid is then applied, which causes the streak or trace to change color. This color is then matched to standard marks in order to determine the purity. This is where the phrase “the acid test” originated. Although it is less suitable for white gold or high carat gold, it can give a reading to within half a carat, and is frequently used today in Asian markets and the bazaars of India.

Troy Ounce

The traditional unit of weight for gold is the troy ounce, being 31.1034807 grams. It is thought, its name was derived from the annual fair at Troyes in France in the Middle Ages. The troy ounce remains the basic international unit in which the price of good delivery bars of gold and silver are quoted, even though the metric system is growing in use in mining and the gold industry. Other troy values of interest are:

32.15 troy ounces = 1 kilogram

1000 troy ounce bar = 31 kilograms

400 troy ounce gold bar = 12.5 kilograms (1000grams)

1 troy ounce = 480 grains

1 troy ounce = 20 penny weights (North America)

6.02 troy ounces = 5 taels (Hong Kong)

3.75 troy ounces = 10 tolas (Indian)

1 troy ounce = 155.52 metric carats (diamonds and gemstones).

World Gold Council

Founded in 1987, the World Gold Council based in Geneva Switzerland, is an organization formed and funded by the world's leading gold mining companies with the aim of stimulating and maximizing the demand for, and holding of Gold. http://www.gold.org