Tuesday, April 8, 2008

USA Gold

This write up of USA Gold explains who USA Gold actually are and what they deal in and is worth reading before you buy gold from www.usagold.com

Who Are USA Gold
USA GOLD Centennial Precious Metals are a Gold, Silver & Platinum Dealers based in Denver, Colorado USA. The original starting date is credited by the Better Business Bureau as being 1973.

The business went online as www.usagold.com in 1998 with a couple of pages and a very few gold coins and a order form. Since then it has steadily grown to be one of the biggest gold dealers in the US. The President, Michael Kosares is well known as a prolific author and gold commentator expounding the virtues of owning gold and other precious metals. They are also expanding into the European market with facilities and sales available to most European countries.

USA Gold Customer Service
You can place small orders online and there is a shopping cart that can be used.

You can also place a call 4:00am - 7:00pm (U.S. Mountain Time) Monday - Friday and maybe speak to either Michael Kosares, the President himself, or to four other consultants about what you would like to order. The consultants are generally very helpful and will guide you through to a purchase painlessly and with a minimum of fuss.

Usagold.com place a lot of emphasis on gold information and education and there is plenty on the usagold.com site to help a new person buying gold or buying silver.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) rates them as 'Satisfactory' and gives them one gold star.

USA Gold Product Range
USAGold have a very extensive and prolific product range of gold coins, silver coins, gold and silver bars. The range includes all the usual American, Australian, Canadian, South African gold coins as well as China, Mexico, Argentina and many other countries.

Here is a list of the precious metal coins currently available.
American Buffalo gold bullion coins
Australia Kangaroo gold bullion coins
Austria Philharmonic gold bullion coins
Canada Maple Leaf gold bullion coins
South Africa Krugerrand gold bullion coins
United States Eagle gold bullion coins
Chinese Panda gold bullion coins
Mexico 50 pesos gold bullion coins
Argentina 5 pesos gold coin (Argentino)
Austria trade ducat gold coin
Belgium 20 francs gold coin (Leopold)
Brazil 10000 reis gold coin (Pedro II)
Brazil 20000 reis gold coin (Pedro II)
Chile gold coin (100 pesos)
Colombian 5 pesos gold coin (Simon Bolivar)
Denmark 20 kroner gold coin ('Mermaid')
Finland 20 markkaa gold coin
France 20 francs gold coin (Louis Philippe)
France 20 francs gold coin (Ceres)
France 20 francs gold coin (Napoleon III)
France 20 francs gold coin (Angel)
France 20 francs gold coin (Rooster)
Germany 20 marks gold coin (Wilhelm I)
Germany 20 marks gold coin (Wilhelm II)
Hungary 20 korona gold coin (Franz Joseph)
Great Britain Sovereign gold coin (Young Victoria)
Great Britain Sovereign gold coin (Jubilee)
Great Britain Sovereign gold coin (Veil Victoria)
Great Britain Sovereign gold coin (Edward, George)
Italy 20 lira gold coin (Vittorio Emanuele II)
Italy 20 lira gold coin (Umberto I)
Mexico 5 pesos gold coin
Mexico 10 pesos gold coin (Miguel Hidalgo)
Mexico 20 pesos gold coin
Mexico 50 pesos gold coin
the Netherlands trade ducat gold coin
the Netherlands 10 guilders gold coin (Willem)
the Netherlands 10 guilders gold coin (Young Wilhelmina)
the Netherlands 10 guilders gold coin (Wilhelmina)
the Netherlands 10 guilders gold coin (Elder Wilhelmina)
Peruvian One Libra gold coin
Russia 10 roubles gold coin (Nicholas II)
Sweden 20 kronor gold coin (Oscar II)
Switzerland 20 francs gold coin (Confederation Helvetica)
Switzerland 20 francs gold coin (Helvetia)
Tunisia 20 francs gold coin
Uruguay 5 pesos gold coin
United States $5 gold coin (Liberty)
United States $5 gold coin (Indian)
United States $10 gold coin (Liberty)
United States $10 gold coin (Indian)
United States $20 gold coin (Liberty)
United States $20 gold coin (St. Gaudens)
Graded U.S. $20 gold pieces, U.S. silver dollars
Graded U.S. Liberty $20 gold piece
Graded U.S. St. Gaudens $20 gold piece
In addition usagold.com carries a range of Gold Bullion Bars of various types and sizes including.
1 oz. Metalor and PAMP
10 oz. Metalor and PAMP (with cert)
KILO Bars (32.15 oz.) (w/o cert)
0.98 oz. Austrian/Hungarian 100 Corona
1.2056 oz. Mexican 50 Peso
The gold bars size range include: 1 troy ounce, 10 oz., 1 kilo, 100 oz., 400 oz., etc. Bars originate from such refineries as: PAMP, Credit Suisse, Johnson Matthey and the fineness of all gold bars ranges from .995 to .9999 pure gold

The gold prices of usagold.com gold coins and gold bars compares well to many other dealers. The bars are particularly well priced.

USAGold Payment Options
USAGold accepts the usual credit card, Visa, Amex, MasterCard and Discover. However there is, understandably a maximum that can be purchased with a credit card and that is $10,000 USD. And that is for US orders only.

For larger orders other payment arrangements would be made, including bank wires and bank to bank transfers.

All payments would need to clear before delivery of the gold is begun.

USAGold also pay shipping and insurance expenses for online coin orders larger than $2000. For coin orders totaling less than $2000, a $35 shipping and handling fee will be charged to the customer.

Gold bullion is available by phone only and is not eligible for free shipping.

Delivery is usually 15-20 business days by US Postal Service or FedEx, insured and with a signature required.

USAGold also offer discount pricing available on volume orders and on payment by check or bank wire. This has to be arranged by phone however.

There is no return policy, all sales are final.

USA Gold Security
www.usagold.com use a shopping cart which is fully secured by a 128bit Secure Server. They have a privacy statement also.

USA Gold Options and Features
USAGold offer U.S. gold depository accounts for clients who prefer secure, fully-insured storage in the United States. This mostly applies to overseas transactions and customers.

USAGold is expanding to serve clients in the following counties, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

The Last Word on USA Gold
Michael Kosares, Founder and President of USAGold, is the guiding force behind USAGold. He spends a lot of time writing about and promoting the concepts of owning gold in these uncertain times, as well as running the business of www.usagold.com.

If you have bought any gold coins or gold bullion from www.usagold.com, please feel free to leave your feedback on the quality of service and products including any www.usagold.com online complaints and special attention or service given by www.usagold.com online.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Perth Mint

You can find out who the Perth Mint are in this write up on the Perth Mint. Find out what gold bullion they have and how safe they are.

In all transactions with gold or other precious metal with any gold dealer or mint, it is always wise to do your own due diligence and find out as much about them as possible.

Who are the Perth Mint
The Perth Mint opened in 1899 and was Australia's third branch of Britain's Royal Mint - the others being the Sydney Mint and the Melbourne Mint at that time but since closed.

Sir John Forrest, The visionary leader and first Premier of Western Australia, is regarded as the founding father of The Perth Mint. 'Big John', as he was known, could foresee the importance of gold in the development of Western Australia's economy, and successfully lobbied the British Government to establish a branch in Perth, Western Australia.

Currently the Western Australia State Government owns the Western Australian Mint through the wholey owned Gold Corporation, (established under the Gold Corporation Act 1987) one of the Perth State Government enterprises who, in turn, own the Perth Mint 100 percent. They also have share ownership associations with AGR Matthey, Johnson Matthey and Newmont Australia who are concerned with the manufacture and refining of bullion bars and industrial products.

In 1988 the Government of Western Australia merged The Perth Mint (also known as Western Australian Mint) and Gold Corporation Australia under a new entity called Gold Corporation. Gold Corporation was formally created by the Gold Corporation Act 1987 on 30 June 1988 and it and all of its subsidiaries are wholly-owned by the Government of Western Australia. In Australia each state has its own government as well as Australia having a federal government. the Government Guarantee was included in the Gold Corporation Act 1987.

The mint, in effect then is not just a dealer in gold coins. The Perth Mint is also a manufacturer and, through its associations above, a refiner and caster of its own bullion and manufactures it’s own coins.

The current Chairman of the Perth mint is P J Unsworth Chairman. The executive officer is Ed Harbuz. Their Registered Office is the Perth Mint Building in Hay Street East Perth. Western Australia.

Perth Mint Customer Service

You can call the Perth Mint and talk to someone on the phone. Also email is available and they usually get back to you within 24 hours depending on when you call. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is around 12 hours ahead of the US and so phone calls should be in Western Australia business hours.

Placing an order online is relatively simple. You will need to open a free account with the Perth Mint and provide your basic details but then you can easily choose gold or silver coins or any other of the many and varied products the Mint sells and add them to your shopping cart.

When you order a product, such as a gold coin or silver coin or bullion, from the perthmint.com then the process is very straight forward and clear. The shipping times are given depending on where you are and how you would like your purchase shipped.

With investment products one can call a specific phone number and to call for any trades such as buying and selling allocated and unallocated gold or silver. The service here is brisk and professional. The consultants are helpful without being chatty.

The Perth Mint has a formal complaints procedure where any complaints can be emailed and a response given notifying the complainant of what action is being taken and when it will be resolved.

Something should be said about the "Government Guarantee".

There is no other dealer, or mint for that matter, in the world that advertises they have a government guarantee.

Perth Mint's Government Guarantee
According to the Perth mint website, "The Perth Mint operates under a Government Guarantee, which is enshrined in Section 22 of the Gold Corporation Act 1987. Clause 22(1) of the Gold Corporation Act 1987 explicitly states that "The payment of the cash equivalent of gold due, payable and deliverable by Gold Corporation, the Mint or GoldCorp under this Act and all moneys due and payable by Gold Corporation ... is guaranteed by the Treasurer, in the name and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State."

This guarantee is particularly important when it comes to investments and pooled gold.

Although the guarantee is applied to gold it is also indicated on the perthmint.com site that it applies to other precious metals such as silver and platinum also.

Perth Mint Products Range

The perthmint.com product range is very extensive and diverse. Along with the usual gold and silver bullion there are commemorative issues, theme issues, peripheral products such as jewelry, gifts and watches.

To give a complete list of products would be beyond the scope of this review but here is a small list of examples of what you can find on site available to the public.

This list applies mostly to gold coins and silver coins. There are other sets in other precious metals available also.
Discover Australia Fauna
Australian Lunar series
Year of the Mouse
Year of the Pig
Year of the Dog
Year of the Dragon
Year of the Goat
Year of the Horse
Year of the Monkey
Year of the Ox
Year of the Rabbit
Year of the Rooster
Year of the Snake
Year of the Tiger
Chinese Astrological Series
Themed Coins
Australian Treasures
Historic Replicas
Indigenous Culture
Lucky Symbols
United Kingdom
War (Military)

The above is generally available in silver and platinum coins also. In addition there are such items as:
Chinese Astrological Series
Kailis Pearl Jewelery
Gold Jewelery Collection
Australian Lunar Coin Pendants
Coin Watches
Baby Gifts
Wedding Gifts
Executive Gifts
Gold Bars
Coin Watches
Interestingly, the Perth Mint are one of the few pleases where one can buy natural gold nuggets. Natural gold nuggets are almost always found on the surface and never underground. They can be found in river beads and buried in earth. Each often has a story to it which also includes the name of the finder. The size can range from fractions of an ounce up to many ounces although sizes are very rare. The premium on natural gold nuggets is very high however. Usually about two to four times the spot value of gold depending on the weight. For example, with gold at 900 dollars an ounce, a 1.23 ounce nugget will cost around 1855USD. A nugget just over two ounces would be 3060USD. They do not have a lot of investment value due to the high premium, but are a great, if expensive, curiosity.

Gold Services of the Perth Mint
Other services and products include allocated & un-allocated storage, certificate programs, depository services and private minting.

The Perth mint operates allocated and unallocated gold and silver bullion accounts. With the allocated accounts the account holder owns specific physical gold and or silver in coin or bar form and that is stored within the Perth Mint Vaults. If a person owns unallocated bullion then they are simply sharing in a pooled account and no one part of that shared bullion can be said to belong to any one particular individual.

So with unallocated (unsegregated) bullion you have title to unspecified precious metal deposited in a metal account. You pay the precious metal cost at the time of your purchase as well as a certificate fee. There is no storage fees on unallocated bullion. You pay NO storage fees on this option.

With allocated (segregated) Coins or Bars (Gold and Silver only), You own title to specific coins and/or bars, which are placed in a physical form in the PMCP storage facility. Here you must pay the quoted precious metal cost, fabrication charges and storage fees at the time of your purchase. The storage fee is based upon the value of the bullion at the time of purchase so does not rise even if the value of your purchase subsequently rises.

The above comes under the certificate program and when you buy gold or silver bullion under this program you will get a non transferable certificate to indicate your holding.

To do this, an account has to be opened to utilize all but the last of these services. In this case opening the account is similar to opening a bank account, substantiated proof of identity is required. Once this is done, one calls the mint and asks for a "trade". It can be done by email, phone call or fax. Once the gold price for that trade is established one then forwards the funds, usually by bank to bank transfer or bank wire, to the Mint and they will send a certificate outlining the trade.

A Depository service is also available for those wishing to deposit bullion in the Perth Mint. These naturally incur storage fees which will be dependent on the bullion, quantity and time of storage.

The Perth Mint Depository stores bullion in a high security environment which includes physical security (such as vaults and security staff), electronic security (such as surveillance and alarms), and an impressive level of procedural security for receiving, releasing and accounting for precious metal deposits. As a result, The Perth Mint offers one of the world's most secure locations for hard asset storage.
In addition a client can also hold funds in AUD and USD (interest is not paid).

Deposit and withdraw funds in currencies other than AUD or USD. Place market orders monitored 24 hours a day (100oz minimum for gold and platinum, 10,000oz minimum for silver) and even purchase European style put and call options over gold (in lots of 500oz) and silver (in lots of 250,000oz);

Private Minting is also available where an individual, company or other entity can have gold or silver coins and small bars fabricated to specific requirements.

Perth Mint Payment Options
All the usual payment options are available including credit cards, bank to bank transfer, bank wires and checks. Basically for consumer products such as gold bullion, gold and silver coins, credit card is the norm.

For larger ticket items and investment products then bank to bank transfer, or bank wires, are preferred. Credit cards cannot be used to purchase investment products

Perth Mint Guarantee Refund Policy

The Perth mint have a refund policy whereby, if you are unhappy with your purchase from the Perth Mint online shop, the Perth Mint will refund the full purchase price, not including shipping costs, within 30 days.

However this guarantee is applicable only to website and Mail Orders. The Perth mint must be contacted and approval obtained before returning the good.

Perth Mint Security
The Perth Mint has a secure shopping cart for credit card transactions. For investments, when you have an account all transactions require a password to be quoted and applied.

The Perth Mint has extensive terms and conditions and a strict privacy policy. In fact it is stated on site that "Under Section 74 of the Gold Corporation Act 1987 employees of the Mint face imprisonment of 1 year if they divulge any information concerning clients' transactions and 2 years imprisonment if they destroy or falsify the Mint's records."

Last Word on the Perth Mint
The Perth Mint is not a dealer per se but an actual Mint. You can go there and be taken on a tour of the mint and see coins being manufactured. A fascinating activity.

The Perth Mint is geared more towards a consumer and to some degree, a collectors frame of mind than the serious bullion investor. Most of the products are not particularly suitable as investment vehicles due to the high premium the Perth Mint sets, except perhaps allocated bullion.

Never the less it can be a fun experience buying and collecting "theme" gold coins provided one is not worried about increasing the value of ones collections in the short term.

If you have bought any gold coins or gold bullion from the Perth Mint, please feel free to leave your feedback on the quality of service and products including any perthmint.com online complaints and special attention or service given by perthmint.com online.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


It is a good idea to read this write up to find out who Apmex are and what they are like before you deal with them.

In all transactions with gold or any other precious metal with any gold dealer, it is always a wise thing to do your own due diligence and find out as much about them as possible.

Who are Apmex
Apmex is an acronym for "American Precious Metal Exchange" and they principally deal in gold coins, silver coins, gold and silver bullion and other peripheral products. According to BBB (Better Business bureau) ampex.com has been in business since 11/01/1999 but their website, under the name of apmex.com, was started around May/June 2004.

Their President and CEO is Chris Thomas and he is approachable online through the various emails on the site. He also posts regularly on the goldismoney forum giving updates of apmex.com and answering questions.

Apmex have an address in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA and can be visited personally as well as dealt with online.

Apmex Customer Service
Apmex are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can be contacted anytime.

Apmex claim they only buy the highest quality precious metals available. Each gold and silver coin and bar is inspected to ensure it meets with Apmex’s standards.

Processing and shipping of orders is swift, provided the payment is confirmed then the bullion is usually shipped within 1-3 days. It is fully insured by Apmex but that insurance ceases the moment it is left with you or your representative.

A good point is that all products are wrapped so as not to give any indication of the contents. The return address is simply given as APMEX and the actual address. All deliveries require a signature also.

One point is that Apmex only ship to the US. There is no International or overseas shipping.

As far as ordering online is concerned, Apmex state their site is compatible with the standard Microsoft products and browser and Netscape browser.

However it appears this information may be out of date and Vista is not included and Firefox, not Netscape is the second most used browser after MSIE.

Apmex Products
Apmex have an extensive rang of products including gold coins of many types including the standard and also many unusual overseas gold coins. They also do a brisk trade in silver coins and rounds as well as a diverse range of foreign coins of various precious and other metals. Some examples are:
2008 & Prior Gold American Eagles & Gold Buffalo Coins
2007 First Spouse $10.00 Gold Coins
Gold Bars .999+ Fine 1 Gram - Kilo - 32.15 oz
Pre-1933 US Gold
2008 & Prior Gold Canadian Maple Leafs, South Africa Krugerrands and Gold European Coins
1996 - 2007 Australian Gold Lunar Series 1
2008 Australian Gold Lunar Series 2
2008 & Prior Gold Australian Kangaroos
Perth Mint Items 2008 & Prior Gold
Chinese Panda's
2007 & Prior Austrian Philharmonics
2007 & Prior Gold Mexican Coins
Many Chinese Gold Items
Many other Unique Gold Products
Also Pre-1933 US Gold
Half Dollars
Half Dimes
2, 3 and 20 Cents
1/2 & Large Cents
Proof & Mint Sets
Civil War Tokens
Tokens & Medals
Foreign Coins
Coin Supplies
The price for each product listed includes all charges except shipping which is extra depending on the shipping method, the quantity of products and where shipped to. Apmex only ships to the USA and not overseas.

The prices are pretty much average and are comparable to other major gold coin and gold bullion dealers.

Apmex Payment Options
The minimum order you can place with Apmex is 50 USD regardless of payment method.

Payment options include, credit card, bank wire, certified checks, cashier checks, money orders and personal checks. Most option clear with a few days but personal checks and money orders are held for 10 banking days before any order is shipped.

Credit Card Orders over 5,000 US dollars are only accepted by phone and Apmex will carry out additional checks that can add additional delays to an order and Apmex recommend that such orders are paid for by such options as bank wires, certified check etc.

Once an order is confirmed you will get a confirmation number and it is important that you retain this number and quote it in all communication regarding your order. When you order a price is “fixed” and there can be penalties for subsequent returns or cancellations. See below.

Apmex are very strict on payments and have a set policy on the receipt of funds which must be adhered to so it is a good idea to send payment immediately you place the order.

If a payment is not received within an appropriate time then Apmex are liable to cancel the account and refuse to trade with you in the future.

Paying by any option other than credit card can give you discounts off the shipping and handling charges also.

Apmex Market Loss and Returns Policy
Apmex have what they call a Market Loss Policy. Many dealers in volatile precious metals have similar policies.

In their words, "When purchasing from APMEX, once we have issued a confirmation number, the price is locked in for you and the transaction may not be canceled, but only offset at our current ask price. Any deficit between the price at which we sold to you and the offsetting purchase price and/or prices, is your responsibility only if your item(s) is canceled or returned. That amount will be charged to you, plus a $35.00 cancellation fee. That is our Market Loss Policy. Any market gain on cancellations shall remain the property of APMEX."

In other words, if you order a gold coin shall we say. Get a fixed price and then a day later cancel and the price has gone down then you are up for the difference as that is what it has cost Apmex plus a possible 35 dollar penalty.

Apmex also offer customers a refund return or exchange on all products sold including all bullion and certified coins. They limit this refund/return/exchange to three (3) days from the date on which the customer receives their items and notifies them and, provided they are kept in their original packaging, will accept the product back. However, in keeping with the market loss policy above the customer may be charges for any market loss if the value of the product drops since purchase..

Note that a 5% restocking fee is charged for all credit card orders returned.

If you have purchased a gold or silver coin or coins from Apmex and want to return them you will have to call during business hours and get Return Authorization Number.

This is when the market loss, if any, will be calculated.

Selling to Apmex
Apmex will buy gold and silver bullion. Pretty much the same products as they sell. The gold price and silver price they pay will be less of course as they want to make a profit on the resale.

They have selling prices on the apmex.com site so you can compare this will other buyers of gold and silver bullion.

The minimum transaction when you sell to Apmex is 1000 dollars. To sell to Apmex you simply call their trading desk, tell them what you have to sell and get a confirmation number. Keep a note of the number, the time and date of the call and who you spoke to. Ship the product to Apmex, putting your details in the package including your name address, contact number and email and, most important, the confirmation number, and then call them with the Registered Mail number or UPS/Fed-Ex tracking number so they can locate your package.

You will usually get payment sent within 3 to 5 days.

Be warned that if you do not send the product you intend to sell or even if you do NOT call with the Registered Mail number or UPS/Fed-Ex tracking number then Apmex may cancel the transaction and even ban you from buying and selling with Apmex.

It will pay to fully read and understand all the details and terms of agreement with Apmex before you set about doing a transaction with them to be sure that you fully understand the terms under which they operate.

Security at Apmex
Apmex.com have a very detailed privacy policy and extensive user agreement and disclaimer. As there can be penalties for misusing the Apmex service it would be wise to read these and ensure one fully understands them. Also reading the Frequently Asked Questions is a good move.

Their shopping cart is standardly secure for credit card facilities provided the purchase adopts the usual standard security measures.

Apmex, the Last Word
Apmex are members of the Better Business Bureau. They are also active members of The American Numismatic Association and ICTA, The Industry Council on Tangible Assets. Both organizations help to protect the rights and serve the members of the numismatic profession and investing public for coins and tangible assets. Apmex are also a member dealer of PCGS & NGC Grading services.

If you have bought any gold coins or gold bullion from apmex.com online, please feel free to leave your feedback on the quality of service and products including any apmex.com on line complaints and special attention or service given by apmex.com online.