A gold bar is a quantity of refined metallic gold of any shape that is made by a bar producer meeting standard conditions of manufacture, labeling, and record keeping.Larger gold bars that are produced by pouring the molten metal into molds are called ingots. Smaller bars may be manufactured by minting or stamping from appropriately rolled gold sheets.
The standard gold bar held as gold reserves by central banks and traded among bullion dealer is the 400-troy-ounce (12.4 kg or 438.9 ounces) Good Delivery gold bar. Smaller good delivery bars (like 1 troy oz bar) are casted for retail investors.
The kilobar, which is to say 1000 grams in mass, is the bar that is more manageable and is used extensively for trading and investment. The premium on these bars when traded is very low over the spot value of the gold making it ideal for small transfers between banks and traders. Most of the kilobars are flat although you will also find some investors in Europe will prefer the brick shape
Specifications for Good Delivery Bars
Good Delivery Gold Bar
The physical settlement of a loco London gold trade is a bar conforming to these specifications:
The gross weight of a bar should be expressed in troy ounces, in multiples of 0.025, rounded down to the nearest 0.025 of a troy ounce.
Fineness: the minimum acceptable fineness is 995.0 parts per thousand fine gold.
Assay stamp of refiner
Fineness (to four significant figures)
Year of manufacture (expressed in four digits)
Minimum gold content
350 troy ounces (approximately 10.9 kilograms)
Maximum gold content
430 troy ounces (approximately 13.4 kilograms)
Recommended dimensions (approximately)
||255 × 81 mm
||236 × 57 mm
Gold jewelry is certainly nothing new either: at the Varna Necropolis in Bulgaria, excavators found over 3,000 pieces, dating from 4600 – 4200 BC. And in Peru, a gold necklace estimated to be almost 4,000 years old was discovered at a burial site close to Lake Titicaca.
But, as Shakespeare said, all that glitters (glisters) is not gold. At least not pure gold. The only pure gold is 24 karat, and it’s an orange yellow. Anything below 24, and in any other color, is a mix of gold and other metals. The color of the final product depends on what other metal(s) it is mixed with – if you add copper, you get red or rose gold, and if you add silver, zinc, or other white metals, you get a paler gold.
For example, a 22 karat piece has 91.6% gold and 8.4% other metals. 18 karat contains 75% gold and 25% other metals, and so forth. But this “dilution” of pure gold is not all bad – when you add another metal to gold (“alloying”), it helps make the piece stronger and harder. 24k gold is much softer than 18k.
Pure gold is 24 karats, and have a bright orange-yellow color which can be polished to a mirror-like shine. Highly valued all over the world and used as a trading commodity, it is so soft and pliable that it is usually not used for jewelry in its pure form (you can find 24k pieces, just know that because of their softness, they’re more likely to get damaged). Most often, the gold is mixed with another metal (copper and/or silver), creating 22, 18, 14, 10 etc. karats. The jewelry will still be yellow, and sturdier.
White gold can be any karat (not 24, but 21, 18, 14, 9, etc.) and is a blend of gold and other white metals, like silver, nickel or palladium. It became popular in the 1920s as a more affordable alternative to platinum, which was very fashionable at the time.
In the US, nickel is the most common white gold alloy, but for those who suffer from nickel allergies (dermatitis is a common reaction) it is good to know that it is no longer allowed in jewelry in the EU, where the more expensive palladium is used instead. You can find white gold without nickel in the US as well, you just have to know to ask for it. Remember though, that if you buy vintage white gold pieces, they will most likely contain nickel, regardless of origin.
Most white gold today is coated with rhodium, a member of the platinum family, which makes the gold look even whiter and gives it a mirror-like shine. It also provides a bit of protection from any eventual nickel, but does tend to wear off after a few years.
Rose, Red and Pink Gold
Rose gold was “invented” in England the 1500s and used for coins, but the first “famous” pink gold jewelry piece was Cartier’s Trinity ring, which was introduced in the 1920s. Reddish shades of gold are created by mixing pure gold with copper (which is red) and silver. 22k rose gold usually consists of 91.6% gold and 8.4% copper. A 14k red gold piece has 58.5% gold, 32.5% copper and 9.0% silver.
Green gold, which is really more of a yellow gold with a green tint to it, is created by mixing pure gold and silver (18k green gold contains 75% gold and 25% silver). There is actually a naturally occurring silver/gold alloy called Electrum, which was used for coins and jewelry as far back as the Bronze Age, but it is not used for jewelry today.
Purple & Blue Gold
Purple gold (a.k.a. amethyst or violet gold) is an intermetallic compound of gold and aluminum. The blend creates 18k pieces in a nice purple color, but unfortunately it tends to be too brittle to use for jewelry and is more often used as an accent. There are other ways to create purple gold that is less fragile, but you lose some of the purple color in the process. Blue gold is also an intermetallic compound of gold and indium and shares many of the other characteristics of purple gold.
Black gold can be created several different ways, which produce final pieces that range in color from brown and grey to jet black.
In the US, you will most often find the karat (or carat) number, stamped as 14k, 18k, etc. 10k is the lowest karat allowed to be sold as gold in the US, but in other countries you can find 9k (minimum in the UK) and 8k (minimum in Germany). Note that older gold jewelry in the US can be 9k, but it won’t have a stamp.
In Europe, the stamp tells you the percentage of gold. .916 means 91.6% gold (i.e. 22k), .750 is 75% (i.e. 18k), .585 is 58.5% (14k), .417 is 41.7% (10k), .375 is 37.5% (9k) and .333 is 33.3% (8k).
In Portugal, the standard is 800 – 80% gold (19.2k), and in the Middle East, it’s 875 (87.5% gold, 21k).
Occasionally, you can find other numbers as well, such as 625, which is 62.5% gold (15k). This karat was discontinued around 1935, so if you see that, you’ll know it’s an older piece.
If you see any of the following abbreviations, the piece is not solid gold:
GF (gold filled), GP or RGP (gold plated), GEP (gold electroplated), HGE, EG, HG (heavy gold electroplated)
And any of the following numbers: .800, .835, .900 or .925, Vermeil (gold plated) are silver.
Gold fineness is as follows:
999.99 (The purest type of gold in the market)
999.9 Pure high bullion grade
999 (Fineness equivalent to 24 karat, also known as three nines fine)
995 the minimum allowed in Good Delivery gold bars
990 also known as two nines fine
958.3 (equivalent to 23 karat)
917 (equivalent to 22 karat)
875 (equivalent to 21 karat)
833 (equivalent to 20 karat)
800 (equivalent to 19.2 karat)
750 (equivalent to 18 karat)
625 (equivalent to 15 karat)
585 (equivalent to 14 karat)
417 (equivalent to 10 karat)
375 (equivalent to 9 karat)
333 (equivalent to 8 karat; minimum standard for gold in Germany after 1884)