Just imagine the scenario that could have happened to any young Romeo who longed to marry the love of his life.
Imagine Romeo on bended knee, asking Juliette her hand in marriage — say in August 2010. At that time, gold was approximately US$1,224 per ounce.
“Oh yes!” Juliette cried, casting her hopeful eyes about as she looked for a ring, which she hoped would confirm the engagement.
But Romeo, being the thrifty sort, asked Juliette to wait. In December 2010, gold still hovered around US$1,200 per ounce. Romeo couldn’t quite find the funds for a ring so he gave Juliette rhinestone earrings instead.
Sadly for him, by April this year, the price of gold jumped to over US$1,500 per ounce. Romeo started to sweat.
In mid-August, Romeo finally bought a ring, just as gold peaked at US$1,800 per ounce. Ring in hand, he ran to see fair Juliette, who, tired of waiting, told him, “So sad, too bad.”
Gold has been going down in price ever since and, hour by hour, Romeo watches the online gold listings. By press time on Tuesday, gold was priced at US$1,791.60.
Forlorn though Romeo may be, his little ring may not have lost its shine, because most gold buyers have a policy of maintaining their prices unless gold jumps or drops by a large percentage.
“I don’t adjust prices day by day,” said Luc Guillemette of Gemport, who sells and purchases gold on a daily basis.
Jack Jensen, owner of West Edmonton Coin and Stamp, who sells gold from the Canadian Mint, said the prices on gold collector coins is set when they are issued, and is maintained until that series is sold out.
Similarily, Marc Dolph, owner of Marcus and Company Estate Buyers Inc., which this week was set up in the St. Albert Inn, only changes his payout price if gold goes up or down by 10 per cent.
“I tell people, ‘Be greedy, but not too greedy!'” he said, as he explained that, since he began trading in gold, he’s seen its ups and downs.
“Remember, what goes up can go down. The last time gold really went up was in 1980. It started the year at US$160 per ounce, jumped to $850 per ounce and finished the year at US$340 per ounce,” Dolph said.
He also cautioned that the price of gold is always given in American dollars and fluctuates as the value of the American economy and currency goes up or down.
All that glitters
Certainly people were selling gold to Dolph on Monday, or at least they were trying.
One man came in with a heavy briefcase. He opened it to reveal a gold dinner plate. He was told it was gold-plated. No sale.
Other couples came in with baggies full of rings and hoped for a ka-ching to go with them. Most were in luck.
A puzzle ring from the Middle East was valued at more than $500, but Grandma’s 100-year-old gold watch was valuable only for the gold. Strangely, the chain was worth more than the watch.
Dealers consider more than the worth of the gold when they estimate value. A pocket watch isn’t as fashionable or as functional as a wristwatch, and therefore it’s harder to sell. Some watchmakers were also more desirable than others. The gold in Grandma’s watch was worth about $500, and once weighed, the chain was valued at about $750.
People bring all manner of golden-coloured objects in to gold dealers to be evaluated, including the gold from their teeth.
“We buy gold in bullion form — meaning in bar form — in jewelry form and we buy dental gold,” said Guillemette, as he explained that gold is gold, and its value is based on how pure it is.
Gold that is marked 24-karat is pure. Gold that appears different in colour is that way because of the alloy that is mixed with it to give it strength.
Gold mixed with silver has a greenish tinge. White gold was usually mixed with nickel and pink-tinged gold was mixed with copper. Gold from the Orient or the Middle East often has a purer gold content.
Gold purchased by dealers is sent back to the refinery, where the gold is separated from the alloys and then purchased back by jewellers in pure form.
“We don’t remake something from gold because we don’t know what’s in it. We send it to the refineries, unless someone wants us to remake them a ring from their own gold,” Guillemette said.
Gemport goldsmith Chad Gopal quickly transformed two gold wedding bands, weighing a total of 8.91 grams, into a gold ingot about four centimetres in length.
He put the rings into a ceramic crucible and fired them with a torch. In seconds, someone’s wedding gold changed in shape and form, but not much in value.
“There’s about four grams of gold in each ring. In one day, the value changed about $8, but most of that is because of the change in the value of the American dollar,” Guillemette said.
All three dealers purchase gold as an investment and as a hedge against changes in the value of their other portfolios. Each, in their own way, recommended caution.
“Yes, gold has gone up in price since I started coming to St. Albert to buy it in 1994. Then it was US$385 an ounce. But remember, it made no interest,” said Dolph.
When Romeo goes to sell that ring, he must also consider sentimental value, and in the end may decide the sentiment is worth more than the cash.
“Gold is a good investment, and if it has no sentimental value, then, these days — when the value of the Euro and of the American dollar fluctuate so much — it’s a good time to sell and turn that scrap gold into dollars,” said Jensen.
You could turn your gold into cash but you might also consider a huge gamble and trade it in for silver.
“Gold is worth more per ounce. But if you look at silver, it’s more volatile and now, at $40 an ounce, silver is worth seven times what I could have purchased it for five years ago. But five years ago, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of gold and $1,000 worth of silver, your silver would have earned you more money than your gold,” said Dolph.
Whether it’s gold or silver, look after it and be very wary of sending it away to unknown dealers.
“Don’t let something of value out of your sight, said Dolph. “The post office tells you not to send money in the mail. Don’t send gold. Find someone locally to let you know what your valuables are worth and shop around, just as you would if you were purchasing a car. Deal with someone who tells you up front what they are going to pay.”