Gold dealers trading in bars and coins or numismatics account for a large share of Retail Gold Investments. The gold is sold in retail shops or online. In contrast to managed gold products (see below), the purchased gold is directly collected or delivered to the customer.

8.1 Bullion gold characteristics


Bullion gold comes in the form of bullion bars and coins. The fact that the value of bullion gold is determined fully or for the very most part by the value of its physical gold content makes it a good choice for gold investors

Bullion gold in general:

  • The value of bullion gold is primarily determined by its gold content and not by other factors, such as brand, design or scarcity.
  • In some geographies, such as the UK and the EU, specific criteria define which bullion bars or coins qualify as investment gold.
  • You should fully disclose the weight and fineness of bullion bars and coins to your customers.

Bullion bars:

  • Gold bars or ingots typically require a purity of 99.5% or higher. In the UK and EU, bullion bars of that purity and with weights accepted by the bullion markets are considered investment gold.

Bullion coins:

  • Gold coins with a high purity, which are primarily valued by their weight and fineness of gold.
  • The UK and the EU define investment gold coins as those coins with a purity of at least 90% and minted after 1800, which are currently or have been legal tender in their country of origin. They are normally sold at a price no higher than 80% above the open market value of the gold content and not regarded as being sold for numismatic interest.
  • In the US, gold coins require stamping by authority of the government, in order to determine their value, commonly called money; otherwise, they must be advertised as rounds.

8.2 Numismatic coins characteristics


Numismatic coins or collector coins are expected to have a value beyond the base value of the contained gold. The additional value is driven by the coin’s rarity and demand from customers. The grade of a coin is also a key determinant of its value, since coins with a higher grade are often rarer or in greater demand.


  • Disclose information on the type of coin and the place and year the coin was minted as well as the coin’s grade.
  • Disclose the coin’s weight and fineness, to enable your customers to calculate its melt value.
  • Disclose information on buy-back options.

Coin grading:

  • Provide documents on a coin’s grade, including the name of the company that performed the grading or certification.
  • coin’s grade refers to the coin’s condition or appearance; it is generally determined by criteria such as strike, preservation, lustre, colour, and attractiveness.

Gold investment jewellery refers to gold jewellery whose value is primarily driven by its gold’s melt value. Gold investment jewellery is characterised by its high purity, which excludes products such as gold-plated jewellery.

9.1 Investment jewellery characteristics


Gold investment jewellery is a popular way to invest in many countries around the world, particularly in the Middle East and South, Southeast and East Asia. Since gold investment jewellery is a means of investing in gold, it is often sold by the gram.

Solid gold

  • Gold investment jewellery should be of high purity, depending on the market this could mean at least 21 karat and go up to 999.9 gold.


  • Gold investment jewellery should include a hallmark as is mandatory or common in the respective market.
  • Gold hallmarks typically include the mark of the assaying office that certified the purity, the fineness or caratage of the gold, the date of the hallmarking, and the trademark of the sponsor of the hallmarking.
  • Provide information on the weight/mass of the jewellery, so that customers can calculate its melt value.
  • Disclose information on buy-back options.

Managed gold products are based on vaulted gold, which is stored in professional vaults on behalf of customers. This caters to investors who want outright ownership of gold and exposure to its price, but do not want to take physical possession of their holdings.

Unallocated gold accounts or other claims against providers do not constitute managed gold products.

10.1 Managed gold product characteristics


Managed gold products can be divided into lump-sum investments and savings plans, with smaller, regular investments into gold. Ownership can also be registered through gold certificates or on distributed general ledgers such as a blockchain (gold tokens). In some jurisdictions, investors can invest into managed gold products through government-approved pension schemes, which provide tax benefits. 


  • Confer outright legal ownership of gold, i.e. full title of gold, to the investor.
  • Make it clear when legal title passes during the transaction process.
  • Hold investors’ gold in the form of allocated gold.
  • Gold should either be allocated to individual investors or pool allocated, where several investors co-own an allocated amount of gold.
  • Customers’ gold should be clearly identifiable, e.g. through bar numbers or other markers.

No lending

  • Do not enter into any lending transactions involving investors’ gold holdings, unless such transactions are specifically authorised by the respective investors.
  • With investors’ specific permission, product providers can offer switching managed gold products into unallocated gold accounts, following which the gold can be lent out or pledged as collateral. However, the World Gold Council’s definition of a managed gold product does not encompass any such lending transactions.

Storage and delivery

  • Store gold holdings on behalf of customers in high security vaults.
  • Disclose and implement investors’ rights with regard to withdrawing or taking delivery of their gold holdings. Provide information on how long deliveries will take.

10.2 Adequate managed gold product operations


Managed gold products which involve, for example, storage, pose different risks to customers than other gold investments, such as bars or coins, where they have direct possession. The implementation guidance below addresses how providers should conduct their operations to mitigate negative risks for both customers and themselves.

Professional custody

  • Gold should be vaulted by an independent, professional custodian.
  • Vaults should meet appropriate security standards and operators should be certified in accordance with local standards, where applicable.


  • Conduct any deliveries through professional and certified security carriers.

Segregated customer cash

  • Hold customer cash balances on a segregated basis, i.e. in a separate account, and do not comingle it with working capital.
  • Keep customer cash with reputable and well-capitalised banks.
  • If cash has to be held on customers’ behalf due to the business model, act legally as trustee with regards to that cash.

Audit and reporting

  • Commission regular, independent audits of customers’ gold holdings; Investors’ and providers’ gold and cash holdings should be audited at least once a year.
  • Audits should include the verification of holdings and reconciliation with investors’ and other holdings, according to providers’ records and information systems.
  • Audits should be conducted by recognised and/or professional independent auditors, such as accounting firms with relevant gold-market experience.
  • Audit results should be published or at least made available to investors.
  • Consider commissioning physical inspection of holdings or samples, and include weighing, assaying, and confirmation of inventory lists. Inspections should be conducted by reputable firms, such as assayers which are members of the LBMA.


  • Insure all gold holdings adequately. Insurance should cover loss, damage, and theft.
  • Insurance should be arranged either by the provider or its custodian/vaulting company.
  • Gold in transit to customers should be adequately insured by the provider or logistics company.

10.3 Tokenised gold characteristics


Ownership of tokenised gold is represented by digital tokens on a distributed ledger – a blockchain. (Tokenised versions of gold-backed financial securities or derivatives are excluded from managed gold products.)

Gold-backed digital tokens are a nascent type of managed gold. It is, therefore, important to adopt the guidance to help the sector gain a reputation for safety and professionalism. Gold tokens should give investors adequate rights; providers should ensure proper business operations and all stakeholders should comply with applicable laws and regulations. 

Implementation guidance for managed gold products:

  • The  implementation guidance for managed gold products (set out in section 10.1) should also be applied, in addition to those specifically for tokenised gold. Gold holdings should, for example, be adequately stored and insured.
  • All relevant information, including specific features, risks and fees should be disclosed.

Token rights

  • Gold tokens on a blockchain or digital ledger should represent legal ownership in the tokenised asset, i.e. gold.
  • Product providers should fully disclose details regarding the tokenised gold products they are offering; in particular whether tokens are on a private or permissioned blockchain or on a public, fully decentralised blockchain. Providers should also explain the respective impact (including the key risks and benefits) to investors. 


  • Tokenised gold should be readily tradable, whether through the provider, the provider’s platform or a public exchange.  Providers should consider the regulatory implications of offering a secondary market in tokenised gold.

10.4 Adequate tokenised gold operations


Proper business operations for tokenised gold should be ensured by adhering to the implementation guidance set out below.

Managed gold products implementation guidance:

  • The implementation guidance for managed gold products (set out in section 10.2) should also be applied, in addition to those specifically for tokenised gold, including practices on cash management, storage, selection of service providers, audit and reporting.

Experienced personnel

  • Key personnel should have adequate experience related to asset-backed tokens or, at a minimum, blockchain technology in general, as well as relevant aspects of the gold market, such as trading and storage.

Financial services and tax regulation

  • Providers must adhere to brokerage or securities regulations in their respective markets.
  • Providers should implement policies and procedures in line with global regulations for tokenised gold. They should also monitor changes in the regulatory landscape.

Voluntary industry standards

  • Providers should adhere to voluntary best practices or standards on tokens, as applicable.

Cyber security

  • Product providers should implement adequate cyber-security controls for token/blockchain operations and supporting infrastructure.
  • The safekeeping of private keys – either for the provider or on behalf of investors – is crucial.