The “Swiss made” Valcambi cast gold bar
Switzerland’s reputation for producing high quality luxurious products is not limited to the watch industry but applies equally to investment gold. Switzerland is to gold what France is to wine, a statement supported by hard facts which show that most of the world’s gold is refined in this prosperous alpine country. Information from the London Good Delivery List shows that six refineries hold 90% of the gold market and four of those, including Valcambi, are based in Switzerland. On average, Switzerland refines between 65-75% of the world’s annual supply of gold, making it the number one country in the world when it comes to refining gold and manufacturing bullion bars. The reason why Switzerland commands this position is because of the country’s high level of security, efficient logistics, a strong financial system that accommodates some of the world’s leading international banks, and, most importantly, stringent laws that set high standards regarding the quality and purity of finished bullion products. For example, every Valcambi gold bar contains an assayer’s stamp, seen on the obverse as “ESSAYEUR FONDEUR”, which guarantees the purity of the bar. To be able to put this marking on its bars, Valcambi needs to comply with strict Swiss federal laws (Precious Metals Control Act) and employ an affirmed assayer who has acquired the needed federal assayer’s licences. Affirmed assayers must keep proper account of the determination of fineness that they perform and at any given time must make their books available to the authorities for inspection. In other words, every Valcambi gold bar has its purity accredited by government and industry bodies, its quality complies with the highest industry standards and is perfected by the best Swiss engineers, resulting in a product with golden integrity that surpasses all standards of excellence. After all, it is Swiss made.
The process to manufacture a cast gold bar starts by heating gold material in a furnace until it turns to a molten slurry. During the heating process, all unwanted impurities in the slurry are removed until only molten gold of high purity is left, most often at around 99.99%. The refined gold is cooled and then either converted into gold granules or small gold bits. Either of these forms is weighed and adjusted according to the required weight of the desired cast gold bar and is then placed in an iron cast mold. The mold is put into a furnace which melts the small pieces of gold inside the iron cast mold. After the gold has melted, the molds are cooled and the gold solidifies inside. The result is a cast bar. These newly cast gold bars are then inspected and weighed. The bars that pass the test are cleaned and inserted into a hydraulic press that applies the needed marks on the top side of the cast gold bar.
Investors need to take into consideration that unlike minted bars which are created from uniform gold panels and have even surfaces, the surface of a cast bar is sometimes rough and uneven. This makes them a perfect choice for those who like to handle and “feel” their gold bars since the re-sale value is not affected by mild scratches or dents.
Valcambi is a Swiss-based precious metals refiner that was established in 1961 and is world renowned as one of the largest producers and suppliers of cast and minted bullion bars. Valcambi’s bullion bars are hailed throughout the world for their outstanding quality and are a hallmark of Swiss craftsmanship, making them sought after by precious metal connoisseurs. The company manufactures its products in Balerna, Switzerland, where it operates one of the world’s largest precious metal facilities capable of refining an impressive 2,000 metric tonnes of precious metals per year. To put this number into perspective, the annual gold mine supply in 2013 reached 3,000 tonnes. The total value annually processed in this plant is impressive to say the least, and the fact that Newmont Mining, one of the world’s biggest gold mining companies, holds a majority stake in the company is an indication of Valcambi’s importance as one of the world’s topmost precious metal foundries. Accredited by all major precious metal exchanges, Switzerland’s central bank and the LBMA (London Bullion Market Association), Valcambi’s gold and silver bullion bars are recognised worldwide, with clients ranging from retail investors to some of the largest international financial institutions, governments and central banks.
Valcambi a member of the London Bullion Market Association
The LBMA, or London Bullion Market Association, was established as an independent oversight body by Britain’s Central Bank in 1987. The roots of the LBMA can be traced back several centuries to the 1700s when London started to emerge as the world’s leading trading hub for precious metals. Referred to as the “London Gold Market”, it was self-regulated by the London’s foremost bullion traders and fabricators who oversaw the market by accrediting precious metal refiners to the London Good Delivery List. Only those refiners that met the quality and purity criteria set down by the “LGD” list were allowed to enter the London bullion market. Today, more than 135 companies, which include some of the largest precious metal refiners, storage providers, manufacturers and bullion traders, are members of the London Bullion Market Association. They all form part of the LBMA, the world’s most respected and trusted international authority that monitors the production and refining process of gold and silver bullion. LBMA’s primary role is to manage the Good Delivery List which is today the international standard for the quality and assaying of gold and silver bars.