Beware of Counterfeit Gold

When it comes to investing, gold is an optimal asset to have – but not all gold is pure.

A long-time New Zealand investor and retired Auckland business owner, Glenn Donald (not his real name), believes the only risk with gold investing is choosing to buy gold from unreputable sources as you could end up with a counterfeit product.

The gold they offer may, in fact, be counterfeit and contaminated with embedded tungsten which has a similar specific weight to gold,” he says. “There is a lot of it out there so it pays to be mindful of where you buy gold from.

As a business owner supplying the jewellery industry for many years, Donald began buying gold and other precious metals in 2006, and has made significant returns. Prices on gold were $NZ850 an ounce at the time, today they are about $NZ2890 – that’s over a 300 percent increase.

Gold is a safe investment option that many people are choosing due to recent world events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. This has resulted in an increase in the demand for gold.

Donald will not sell gold, he chooses to only buy it. He carefully selects where he buys his gold, and will only buy from New Zealand Gold Merchants (NZGM): “My gold and silver bullion comes from them because I trust them and know what I’m getting.

“When and if I need to sell it, I will sell it back to NZGM,” he says. “There will be no issue with the purity of the product because it is their product.”

Although Donald has achieved success in gold, he strongly believes in diversifying his assets. “I only have a portion of my funds in gold and I think it would be ridiculous to put everything into it. It is my opinion that the percentage should be around 15 to 20 per cent, no more than that.

“I also have deposits in a number of banks to spread that risk around and funds under management in a balanced account with one of the major banks.”

Donald says people argue that gold bullion doesn’t generate income or interest, but he believes this argument is flawed because that is not the role of gold investing. Instead, Donald says gold serves as money and as a store of value.

“That’s also why it shouldn’t be viewed as a commodity,” he says. “It doesn’t get used up like oil or cotton, doesn’t need feeding, fertiliser or maintenance and can’t be destroyed by fire, water or time. Indeed, it will outlast us and is an ideal asset to pass on to your heirs.

“Gold requires no paper contract. It is part of the only financial asset class that is simultaneously not someone else’s liability and doesn’t require the backing of any bank or government.”

Donald believes there are no specialised skills or advanced training required to invest in gold bullion: “If you don’t know how to spot a real diamond, aren’t familiar with the paintings of Van Gogh or don’t know which comic books are more valuable than others, just buy some gold bullion.”

He says, despite fluctuating prices, gold and silver retain their value over time. “In 2011 I bought an amount for $1900 an ounce and it soon after dropped to $1300. You’ve got to wear that, but it will go up again.”

In terms of security, Donald recommends that you never advertise to anyone that you own or hold gold bullion, as this invites theft.

“All my gold is held off my property in a secure vaulting facility,” he says. “NZGM offer to store gold in their secure storage and can deliver it to you at short notice if required.”