Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Seduction of Gold on Two Fronts

I've written a few things lately about this precious metal we call gold, mostly from a financial value viewpoint.

Lately I've been thinking about this lovely malleable metal in terms of adornment. I lived in Miami during and after the first influx of Cuban Refugees in the early 1960's. It wasn't until they had been amongst us a year or two that I frequented some common areas. One thing I remember is all the heavy gold chains and ID bracelets the men wore and it wasn't 14KT either.

The only jewelry I could afford as a young adult was silver, and I soon learned I couldn't wear it without my body reacting to it. I began to wish I had some gold jewelry, other than small gold studs in my ears. When I divorced my first husband, I immediately bought myself a heavy gold nugget ring which I wear to this day, and a Museum Movado watch with an 18KT gold case. Eventually I bought a few more select pieces that I wore with my corporate drag.

Now I dress comfortably in jeans and hiking boots, and seldom wear any of the jewelry except my nugget ring, and a couple of small gold chains. I've given some of it to nieces, but even they dress down these days. However, the allure of gold still remains deep within me.

As to the value of gold jewelry... would I trade what few pieces I have left for food in a real crisis? I really don't know since I have never been in that kind of situation. I do regret some pieces I hocked, or sold, to pay rent. I was friends in the 1960's with a Hungarian man who came to the US as a refugee in WWII. He would buy any kind of gold jewelry at yard sales, auctions, etc. I remember him describing people in the war-torn areas of Europe who wore coats with gold jewelry sewn inside. They were always able to trade for food with it.
I guess once you have seen it happen, you know it can happen again.

On the financial/market value side of gold... if you have been watching the market, gold is up further in value, well over $1,000 now. The IMF has announced they want to sell 403 tonnes of gold, which is about 1/8 of their gold holdings. 403 tonnes has a market value of close to $13 Billion.

Unconfirmed via Reuters reports say China is interested in buying it, if the price is right. They said $13 billion is small beans to the Chinese, who have more than $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. The Chinese report having 1,045 tonnes of gold already, accumulated slowly over the last 10 or so years. I wonder how much the US still has?

Last year in a moment of panic about the banks, a neighbor withdrew $25,000 from her savings and installed a home safe. I suggested she buy gold with it; gold was $928 then. That would have bought around 27 ounces of gold, worth about $2500 more today. Her savings were paying a pittance, even the CD's. After about 60 days, she put it back in the bank.

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