In the 4,000 years since man began the casting of precious metals into a means of payment, society has changed beyond recognition. The role played by gold, silver and other precious metals has, however, remained essentially the same.
The eternal allure, inherent durability and – due to their scarcity – intrinsic value of precious metals made them the ideal material on which to base a currency. The same still applies today and will no doubt do the same a thousand years from now.
It is this essential stability that makes precious metals such a safe bet for investors. As a physical commodity precious metals are not ephemeral and impalpable investment products like stocks and shares, which are dependent on the financial health of companies whose value is vulnerable at the best of times, not to mention during economic crises. Nor does the marketability of precious metals depend on state guarantees.
When, as now, interest rates are effectively negative, money saved in a static bank or building society deposit account actually depreciates in value due to inflation. But while it can dip temporarily, history has proven that the value of gold, for example, always rises again. Indeed, its value has risen year on year for the past 12 years, increasing by 7.1 per cent in 2012 on the previous year.
Another advantage of precious metals is that you don’t need any knowledge of the stock market nor do you need to follow share prices daily in order to buy and sell them. As such, gold and silver are an uncomplicated investment and are also easy to get hold of, whether at banks or, of course, the Austrian Mint itself.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to start investing in precious metals either. Experts recommend that you start small, with precious metals making up five to ten per cent of your assets, though, as a general rule, the greater the risk, the greater the share they should represent of your investments. In terms of the right time to buy precious metals, experts also recommend that reserves be built up by repeatedly buying small amounts over a long period of time to even out price fluctuations.
An added bonus and safeguard of bullion coins it that Austrian Banks guarantee to buy back Vienna Philharmonics, though at a premium. Vienna Philharmonics now also come in Silver, which due to its many industrial uses may have an investment advantage in years to come.
It has been estimated that in 600 BC one ounce of gold could buy 300 loaves of bread, by 2012 that had risen to 450. In an ever-changing and unpredictable world it is reassuring to know that some things can always be relied on.