The Royal Wedding Coin

People throughout the world are anxiously awaiting the upcoming nuptials of the oldest son of the Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness William and his college sweetheart, Catherine “Kate” Middleton.

The engagement was announced several months back to great fanfare with the immediate release of commemorative memorabilia that has generated great interest and millions of dollars in sales.

One such commemorative product is Australia’s Official Royal Wedding Coin, being offered by the Perth Mint, which is owned by the State Government of Western Australia.

Endorsed by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Wedding coin features an official image of the beamingly happy couple, stunningly portrayed in color. In the background, sculpted in 99.9% silver is Westminster Abbey, which is the setting for the April 29, 2011, nuptials. The coin itself weighs in at one ounce.

The other side of the coin features an image of Her Majesty along with the inscriptions, “Elizabeth II,” “Australia 2011,” “1 Dollar” and “IRB” (which are the initials of the artist’s name, Ian Rank-Broadley).

With the weight at one ounce, and 20 pennyweights per ounce, the actual value of the silver in this coin is approximately $45, but the coin itself is priced by the Perth Mint at $105, with a limit of five coins per collector. So obviously the value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or collector, in this case.

Inflation of actual value of the metal based on the event or subject being memorialized by a coin is obvious in other similar kinds of coins. For example, the 2011 Chinese Panda 1 ounce commemorative coin is being sold on eBay for anywhere between $50 and $70, currently, driven by online auction buyers. This coin is the same weight, metal and quality of silver, but clearly available at a much different – lower – price. Evidently in the current collectable market, the royal couple fetches more than pandas do.

Similarly, Charles and Diana Wedding coins (also for sale on eBay), although not official or made of any precious metal (there is no precious metal stated on the auction page, where one would assume that information would be stated, if the item were made of a precious metal) are selling for a lower $30-40, at present. Also, no pennyweight measure is available.

But will “Kate and her Prince” stand the test of time? Will the worldwide popularity of “Kate and Will” endure as long as their love? We can’t know about that, but with a limited run of just 12,500 coins, it is very possible that their coin, like many other commemorative coins, will continue to be valued by consumers more for its exclusivity than its metal content for some time to come.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold…

The title of this post is probably the most famous, oft-repeated phrase about gold in history. It comes from William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and, hang on to your leggings and pantaloons, the actual phrase is slightly different:

"All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold."

Glisters, by the way, is the 17th-century version of glitters. And even before then, this was an expression in use, in various forms, as far back as the 12th century. Of course in those days, they could have been talking about panning for gold. When you dip a shallow pan of gold into a bit of rocks and shake out the sediment, you're every bit as likely (if not more probable) to get pyrite, also known as false or fool's gold, because the false gold usually reflects more light than authentic gold ore does.

"All that glitters is not gold" is more regularly spoken in terms of what is authentic and what is sham in terms of people. When you look for good business deals and true friends, you often find the "real gold" of best friends and high profit ventures among those that aren't as flashy, or false gold.

That's why we don't offer advice on speculating in precious metals. We think the only sure way to make a profit, or real gold in any business is to stick to what you know. Instead of trying for the tantalizing but elusive pot of gold by attempting to ride the market (which is very unpredictable), we find the best way to benefit your business is to recycle your scrap and waste precious metals in order to put the money back to work in your business.

And of course if everything that glittered really was gold, there’d be no need to refine gold, since it wouldn’t be as rare and precious any longer.

What Does It Mean When Music “Goes Gold” or “Goes Platinum”?

We've all heard the disc jockey on the radio describing a song as "going gold."  It sounds like something that could only be topped by "going platinum," and that's actually the next tier up when it comes to record-industry measurements.

"Going Gold" is the music industry's parlance for selling 500,000 copies of an album.  "Going Platinum" means the album has gone to the next step, doubling the sales to 1 million copies.

Pop culture has an amazing way of using analogies to symbolize highs and lows. And, in this case, “going gold” or “platinum” demonstrates that a band has truly arrived. In the days when radio announcers "spun platters" (as vinyl records were sometimes called), these sales stats were huge accomplishments for an album. They represented the crème de la crème – or gold and platinum standards of music industry success. Today, it’s still a badge of pride when a record “goes gold” or “platinum”, but it’s even more likely to hear of records “going double platinum” or “multi-platinum”. As technologies have changed and audiences have grown, so too, have general sales numbers for the industry’s most successful acts. But regardless of the increased numbers, “gold” and “platinum” remain the standards of measurements for an album’s success.

The rarity of and interest in precious metals makes them a continued source of comparison and measurement when it comes to describing value and desirability, especially in popular culture. The music industry’s use of these terms is just one more fun metal fact to be aware of.