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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

Last updated on: February 8, 2013 10:20 IST

Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Gold has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewellery, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history.

Let's take a look at divisible gold bars at a refiner and bar manufacturer in the southern Swiss town of Balerna.

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Image: A customer tries on a gold necklace at a shop in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Photographs: Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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An employee divides a gold Combibar at a plant of gold refiner and bar manufacturer Valcambi in the southern Swiss town of Balerna.

The divisible gold combibar has a purity of 99.9 per cent, weighs 50 grams and also has predetermined breaking points which allow it to be easily separated without any loss of material into one gram pieces.

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Image: An employee divides a gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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A total of 171,300 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, according to GFMS as of 2011.

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Image: An employee shows a gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Of all the precious metals, gold is the most popular as an investment. Investors generally buy gold as a hedge or harbor against economic, political, or social fiat currency crises (including investment market declines, burgeoning national debt, currency failure, inflation, war and social unrest).

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Image: An employee shows a one gram piece of a gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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The gold market is subject to speculation as are other markets, especially through the use of futures contracts and derivatives. The history of the gold standard, the role of gold reserves in central banking, gold's low correlation with other commodity prices, and its pricing in relation to fiat currencies during the 2007-2012 global financial crisis, suggest that gold behaves more like a currency than a commodity.

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Image: A gold Combibar is seen in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Gold has been used throughout history as money and has been a relative standard for currency equivalents specific to economic regions or countries, until recent times.

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Image: Gold granulate in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Today, like most commodities, the price of gold is driven by supply and demand as well as speculation.

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Image: An employee holds an unpressed gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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However unlike most other commodities, saving and disposal plays a larger role in affecting its price than its consumption.

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Image: A gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Most of the gold ever mined still exists in accessible form, such as bullion and mass-produced jewellery, with little value over its fine weight - and is thus potentially able to come back onto the gold market for the right price.

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Image: An employee places a gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Given the huge quantity of gold stored above-ground compared to the annual production, the price of gold is mainly affected by changes in sentiment (demand), rather than changes in annual production (supply).

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Image: An employee holds a gold Combibar in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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According to the World Gold Council, annual mine production of gold over the last few years has been close to 2,500 tonnes. About 2,000 tonnes goes into jewellery or industrial/dental production, and around 500 tonnes goes to retail investors and exchange traded gold funds.

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Image: An employee takes a gold Combibar out of a press machine in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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Amazing IMAGES of divisible gold bars in Switzerland

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Central banks and the International Monetary Fund play an important role in the gold price. At the end of 2004 central banks and official organisations held 19 per cent of all above-ground gold as official gold reserves.

The 10 year Washington Agreement on Gold, which dates from September 1999, limits gold sales by its members (Europe, United States, Japan, Australia, Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund) to less than 500 tonnes a year.


Image: An employee places a gold Combibar into a press machine in Balerna, Switzerland.
Photographs: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

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