If you invest in precious metals like gold, it’s important to know that you’re purchasing a genuine and authentic product. Fortunately, there’s a simple way you can verify whether you are about to buy real or fake gold bullion: by checking each gold bar’s serial number.
In this article, our experts from Oxford Gold Group will discuss everything you should know about how to authenticate bullion using a serial number marking and how to avoid buying fake gold bars. Then, we’ll explain the most important factors when purchasing gold bars, including sizing, weight, markings, and more. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Why Do Gold Bars Have a Serial Number?
The law states that every precious metals manufacturer must serialize and mark every gold bar before they can go on the market, regardless of size or shape. You can think of it like designer handbags or fine jewelry: if you splurge on a Louis Vuitton purse or a Rolex watch, it’s essential to verify its authenticity and ensure that you didn’t buy a knockoff.
Well, the same goes for gold bars. Adding a unique number makes it simple for buyers to identify, verify, and trace the origin of its manufacturer. While gold coins don’t require specific numbering, they do have distinct markings and characteristics that make them instantly recognizable and differentiate them from counterfeits.
All accredited government and private mints (such as Perth Mint in Australia or Credit Suisse) must use a serial number when manufacturing gold bars over 250 grams. Smaller gold pieces usually don’t have enough room for this type of marking, so manufacturers stamp it on the packaging instead.
Are Gold Bars Traceable?
Can you trace gold bars? The answer is both yes and no. Of course, you can use the serial marking to determine which mint or manufacturer produced a gold bar.
In addition, some minted gold bars have a protective case that features a holographic identification chip containing information about the gold content, its refinery, the manufacturer, etc. However, as for determining the origin (i.e., the source mine) of the precious metal? It would be close to impossible.
Metals with a lower gold purity may contain specific trace elements and materials that can pinpoint their country of origin. However, every genuine gold bar and high-quality bullion undergo a refinement process, eliminating those trace elements.
Can You Sell a Gold Bar If It Doesn’t Have a Serial Number Marking?
Yes, you can sell gold bars if they don’t have any serial numbers or identifiable markings on their surface. However, you may have trouble finding a buyer that wants to purchase a gold bar that lacks a serial number.
Unsurprisingly, many investors are very cautious about purchasing unmarked bullion because they don’t want to risk buying fake bars.
If you have gold bars or other precious metals with no official marking or number on their surface, you should consider seeking authentication from an expert. For example, you may want to test your bullion for gold fineness, purity, weight, etc.
Should You Purchase Gold Bars with No Serial Numbers?
Investing in precious metals can be risky, but that’s typical of virtually every investment market, including stocks, real estate, etc. However, purchasing a gold bar with no serial number or surface marking is even riskier.
Of course, the decision about how to invest your finances is yours and yours alone. You have a higher chance of losing money on a gold-plated or fake bar if you buy bullion that lacks the official marking or numbers verifying its manufacturer or mint.
How To Spot Fake Gold vs. Real Gold Bars
Before you make an investment in precious metals like gold, you should know how to test the authenticity of gold and determine the difference between real and counterfeit bars. Here are some tips every investor should keep in mind when they’re in the market for purchasing gold.
Look Closely: Take a long, hard look at the gold you want to buy and verify every identifying mark. Check for a serial number or any other marking that could denote its manufacturer.
Check the Hallmark: A hallmark is another sign indicating you’re buying real gold. Counterfeiters will try to erase or imitate this mark, which looks like a lion and two triangles. Also, check for the assayer’s stamp below the lion.
Ask for Proof: If you’re unsure whether the bar you want to buy is pure gold, you can ask the seller for proof of authenticity before you hand over the money. A legitimate gold bar should have a certificate of authentication (COA) that lists details about the bar, including its mint or manufacturer.
Check the Weight: Some scammers will try to unload gold-plated bars or fake bullion on unsuspecting investors. Non-gold metals will weigh around three grams less than solid gold. However, checking the weight isn’t a foolproof test, so use more than one verification method.
Test with a Magnet: Take out a magnet to test the metal before you buy a gold bar or coin. Gold is a non-magnetic metal and will not react if you place a magnet near it.
What You Should Know Before Buying Gold Bullion Bars
Before investing in gold bars, you should educate yourself thoroughly to avoid losing money or purchasing fake metal. Here are a few factors to watch out for if you’re going to buy gold:
An assay card will contain detailed information about the piece of gold you want to buy, whether it’s a bar, coin, or bullion. It should list the manufacturer’s name and address, the metal’s purity level, mint marking, and the date of its assay. It will also list its weight in troy ounces, as is the standard for gold bars. A genuine assay card will have a background color and a smooth edge. Fake cards will have rough edges or contain a white border.
Serial Number Marking
Remember, smaller gold bars may not have official markings or numbers. However, larger bars will most certainly contain an identifying serial number. For smaller purchases, you should be able to see the serial marking on the packaging.
Always keep a list of your serial numbers for insurance purposes, including your smaller pieces of gold. Having an organized list makes it easier to value your collection for liquidation purposes, should you ever want to sell.
Call Oxford Gold Group Today Regarding Precious Metals Investing
As you likely already know, gold investing can be a risky endeavor. However, by educating yourself on the different methods of authenticating gold, it becomes much easier to spot fake or counterfeit metal.
For example, you should look for serial numbers, markings, stamps, etc., and always weigh gold before purchasing it. Plus, checking a gold bar’s serial number makes it easier to verify your assets for insurance purposes and keep track of your collection.
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