In 1981, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl, her parents and nine brothers and sisters began preparing for a perilous journey, a journey they knew they might not survive.
Since the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, life had been hard for the little girl’s family. The Communist government of North Vietnam inherited a country deeply divided, devastated by war, and on the verge of economic collapse. In an attempt to unify the country, the government instituted a centrally planned program of economic reform, instituting price controls, forcing farmers into agricultural collectives and nationalizing manufacturing. It was the beginning of what would come to be known to the Vietnamese people as the “10 bad years.”
In September 1975, the Vietnamese government declared the new “liberation” dong to be worth 500 of the dong previously issued by South Vietnam, where the girl and her family lived.
From 1976 to 1980, the Vietnamese economy barely grew, even as the population swelled by a million people each year. Inflation soared upwards of 700%. Food grew scarce, and starvation ensued, as Soviet-style farming collectives failed, and drought, flooding and typhoons exasperated the crisis. Many businessmen lost everything, and the suicide rate skyrocketed. The little girl’s father’s family business was seized by the Communist government, and the family faced the reality of having to raise a family of 10 children in a hostile environment, amid civil unrest and an uncertain economy.
Finally, the little girl’s parents knew they had to choose: to leave their home and everything they owned behind in the hope of finding a better life for their children, or to stay in Vietnam, where their prospects for the future seemed to worsen by the day.
In those days, many people were fleeing the coast of Vietnam in boats, desperate for the chance at freedom and a brighter future. Those considering the voyage heard horrifying stories of pirates, rapes, capture by Vietnamese soldiers, and drownings at sea. Sixty-eight passengers prepared to join the little girl’s family on a boat, carrying what little wealth they had with them on their bodies, in the form of gold jewelry. It was a stark memory the little girl would carry with her for the rest of her life.
The 80 passengers in the tiny fishing boat were among the lucky ones: After seven days at sea, they were able to land in Indonesia, where they found shelter in a refugee camp. All had survived the voyage, but their struggles were not over. Food was scarce in the camp, and there were few resources to support the constant influx of tired, hungry refugees. The little girl’s family used their gold jewelry to trade with the local merchants for food, medicine, and other necessities of life. It was that gold jewelry that enabled them to survive the many months they endured on the island.
Eventually the little girl and her family made their way to the United States. Today, her parents, now in their 80s, are still living, and most of her siblings reside near her in Southern California. And today she is a member of the GoldSilver.com team.
“I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of the danger,” she recalls of that long-ago journey. “It was a life-changing experience that shaped who I am. It is my history. I am very fortunate, and very appreciative of the life I have.”
Our staff member’s story really hit home with those of us at GoldSilver.com, where our mission is to educate others about the importance of holding physical gold. Throughout history people have turned to gold to preserve their wealth and provide security for their families in times of crisis. Similarly, the tradition of investing in, giving, and wearing gold jewelry is deeply ingrained in most of the world’s cultures. That remains true of Vietnam, the fourth largest consumer of gold in Asia, after China, India and Thailand, according to a 2012 Standard Chartered report. As is true of many Asian cultures, many Vietnamese people still save in gold rather than currency, particularly now, with spiraling inflation and the dong losing value. Gold jewelry is traditionally given to new Vietnamese brides by the groom’s family. In India and China, gold jewelry has both ceremonial and financial significance, a symbol of abundance by which a family’s wealth can be passed from generation to generation with the fastening of a clasp.
But there is a deeply practical aspect to the owning of gold jewelry as well. In societies such as Vietnam’s, where political orders have undergone frequent turbulence and economies have been centrally planned into crisis, the people even today trust gold far more than they trust their national currencies. In Vietnam today, currency is used for most transactions, but the purchase of real estate or capital goods requires gold.
But historically, governments whose national currencies are floundering inevitably look for ways to disincentivize the use of gold as money. In many parts of the world, that’s happening today. Currently, in an attempt to persuade people to sell their gold bullion, the State Bank of Vietnam has forbidden banks from paying interest on deposits of gold, and forced banks to charge customers a fee to store their gold instead. Similarly, with the rupee at an all-time low, the government of India, the biggest gold consumer in the world, has increased import duties on gold bullion. And much closer to home, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 forced U.S. citizens to sell their gold bullion to the Federal Reserve and banned them from owning gold coins or bars.
But gold jewelry, that lovely bracelet or sparkling necklace that catches the light as your daughter turns to greet you, has never in modern history been subject to those kinds of government interventions. While one is almost certain to be stopped at Customs for his or her bag of gold coins, the passenger wearing a beautiful gold chain raises nary an eyebrow. A significant amount of wealth can be transported anywhere in the world simply by wearing it as a beautiful accessory rather than carrying it as money.
Of course, most of us will not be forced to flee in fear for our lives, as that 10-year-old future GoldSilver employee and her family were back in 1981. But all of us are at risk of losing the value of our savings, as the purchasing power of our national currencies falls lower and lower. Most of us will probably never need to transport our wealth to foreign shores in response to political upheaval or government heavy-handedness. But in our uncertain modern world, conditions change quickly, governments and the financial elite hold enormous power, and when our unsustainable, debt-addicted monetary system crashes for the final time, events will turn on a dime.
It is these unsettling prospects and the desire to provide our customers a range of options for preserving wealth and securing the future that inspired us to expand our product line to include 22K gold bullion jewelry.
Why Gold Bullion Jewelry?
We at GoldSilver.com don’t generally recommend gold jewelry for investment purposes nor invest in it ourselves, just as we don’t recommend investing in numismatics, or collectible coins. That’s because high-quality gold jewelry typically sells for two, three or even four times the spot price of the gold contained in the jewelry. In other words, when you purchase gold jewelry as a beautiful ornament, you’re really paying for the craftsmanship and appearance rather than for the gold it contains.
However, as one of the world’s largest gold and silver dealers, we are able to offer our customers our 22K gold bullion jewelry closer to gold's spot price. In other words, when you purchase our 22” men’s or women’s gold necklace or 7” women’s bracelet, you will be purchasing the gold content of the pieces, just as you would if you were to purchase a U.S. Gold Eagle coin.
Gift That Keeps On Giving
Gold bullion jewelry has characteristics different from gold bullion coins that for some people make it an attractive addition to an investment portfolio. To begin with, as we approach the holiday gift-giving season, our 22K gold bullion jewelry makes a wonderful gift for loved ones: not only is it beautiful, but its investment value and prospective increase in value make it a far-sighted and highly practical gift. In fact, these pieces are so beautiful the receiver won’t even care that their value is based on their gold content. A gift of these investment-quality pieces can be a way of passing down generational wealth in a way that is both traditional and pragmatic.
Discrete Way of Transporting or Transferring Wealth
Anyone crossing international borders is required to declare whether they are carrying $10,000 or more worth of financial instruments. But jewelry—even our 22K gold bullion jewelry—is not a financial instrument. Although we advise anyone planning to cross into another country to research the specific laws governing gold jewelry, in most instances one could wear far in excess of $10,000 worth of gold jewelry without triggering any reporting requirement.
Likewise, in the event of a currency crisis, taking a piece of gold jewelry in to sell for cash would draw far less attention than going to the corner gold dealer carrying a sack of coins. You could even break off a few links to sell rather than selling an entire necklace or bracelet. In fact, were the government to ban ownership of gold due to currency crisis, gold jewelry would most likely be exempted from the ban, just as it was when the U.S. government outlawed ownership of gold in 1933.
Just as gold and silver bullion coins represent the surest way to transfer to another asset class when the precious metals cycle ends, we are offering a two-way market for our gold bullion jewelry as well. In other words, we promise to buy back our 22K gold jewelry from you, when the time is right for you to cash in on your investment.
Practical Addition to Your Portfolio
We at GoldSilver, including Mike Maloney, continue to believe that gold and silver bullion coins will offer the safest, best-performing long-term return on our investment. But because of the high-quality content, practicality and discretion offered by our 22K gold bullion jewelry, we’re adding these beautiful pieces to our own portfolios as a means of diversifying our holdings.
As Mike advises all of our customers, the most important thing is that each individual create a financial plan that makes sense for his or her unique circumstances. If investing a portion of your portfolio in our beautiful gold bullion jewelry makes sense for you and your family, we have made it as easy as possible for you to do so. Simply select the products you want and add them to your shopping cart, just as you would any of our other products. We hope your purchase of our 22K gold bullion jewelry will bring pleasure to you or someone you love; we are confident it is a purchase that will always be valued.