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The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

More Countries are Bolstering their Gold Reserves

June 12, 2019 07:00
More Countries are Bolstering their Gold Reserves

Over the past 9 months, a new trend has developed in the world economy: more central banks are buying up gold. According to the World Gold Council, 2018 had the highest level of annual net central bank gold purchases since 1971, and the second highest annual total on record. In total, the world’s central banks accumulated 651.5 tons of gold last year.

With central banks adding another 90 tons of gold to their reserves over the first 2 months of 2019, the trend appears to be going on strong. Just a few noteworthy examples include:

  • Since December 2017, the Reserve Bank of India has added 50.4 tons of gold to its reserves. More than 10% of that total (8.2 tons) was acquired in January and February of this year. According to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s gold reserves currently stand at a record high of almost 609 tons.

  • Russian gold reserves increased 274.3 tons in 2018, marking the country's fourth consecutive year of 200+ ton growth. During the first quarter of 2019, Russia has already acquired an additional 56 tons.

  • Last year, Poland dramatically increased its gold reserves by approximately 20%, going from 103 tons in July to about 128.6 tons by December.

  • The Hungarian National Bank increased the size of its gold reserves from 3.1 tons to 31.5 tons during October 2018 – a 1000% increase. Prior to that, Hungary’s central bank had not altered its gold reserves since 1986.

When it comes to this trend, the exact reasons for investing in more gold may differ for each country, but the overall message is clear: gold is still the asset of choice for lower-risk, longer-term growth strategies.

'Hope Diamond' Dethroned by 'Okavango Blue'

June 6, 2019 07:00
'Hope Diamond' Dethroned by 'Okavango Blue'

Last April, the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) announced that they recovered a massive, deep-blue diamond with better clarity and purity than the world famous "Hope Diamond."

Originally discovered as a 41.11-carat rough stone in the ODC's Orapa mining site, the “Okavango Blue” was given an Oval Brilliant Cut and polished down to 20.46 carats – making it the largest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana, Africa.

Both the Okavango Blue and the Hope Diamond are classified as Type IIb diamonds, meaning that they contain no detectable nitrogen (which cause an undesirable yellow or brown coloring) and significant levels of boron (which cause a gorgeous blue or blue-gray coloring). While both diamonds are extremely pure, the Okavango Blue earned a clarity grade of VVS2 from the GIA – making it one level higher than the Hope Diamond’s VS1 grade. Of the two, the Hope Diamond is definitely larger, weighing even more than the pre-cut Okavango Blue at 45.5 carats.

In 2016, a 12.03-carat blue diamond sold for more than $25 million at auction, breaking the record for most expensive gem of its kind ever sold. Although the Okavango Blue's value has not been appraised publically, we wouldn't be surprised if it becomes the new record holder when it's auctioned off later this year.

Lab-Grown Diamonds are about to get Even Cheaper

May 29, 2019 07:00
Lab-Grown Diamonds are about to get Even Cheaper

Ever since laboratories managed to grow gem-quality specimens consistently and at scale, "synthetic" diamonds have steadily gained popularity with today's jewelry buyers. In addition to being conflict-free and eco-friendly, the main advantage synthetic diamonds have over natural ones is cost. Now, a manufacturing company called Plasmability has patented a new production methodology that may drive down the price of synthetic diamonds even further.

Ordinarily, diamonds are grown using chemical vapor deposition (CVD). As part of the process, a tiny fragment of carbon is placed into a pressurized chamber filled with a carbon-heavy gas (usually argon, methane, hydrogen, or a mixture of the three). The gas mixture is heated to very high temperatures with microwave to produce a plasma. In its plasma state, the gas breaks down and its carbon atoms accumulate and crystallize onto the fragment of solid carbon, causing it to grow. Since the layers of diamond only form at a rate of <60 microns per hour, the process can take up to 10 weeks and requires lots of electricity.

Instead of microwave technology, Plasmability’s method uses an inductively powered toroidal radio frequency generator to heat the gas and create plasma. As a result, the conversion of electrical energy into heat energy improves in efficiency by about 35%. As a bonus, the toroidal radio wave technology is smaller and requires less maintenance compared with microwave generators. If laboratories invest in this technology, we could see further decreases in diamond prices within the next few years.

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