In 1967, the government of South Africa minted the gold krugerrand to increase the marketing of South African gold. Although the krugerrand is considered as legal currency in South Africa, it is rarely used for that purpose. Instead, it has become a favorite of coin collectors all over the world, known as “medal coins.” This was the first coin to be valued at the monetary value of gold, or the current rate of gold prices.
For example, a U.S. silver dollar is worth exactly one dollar unless it is unusual in some way that makes it more valuable to collectors. The krugerrand was originally a one-ounce piece of 22 carat gold with no monetary value imprinted on it; its value is based upon the market gold price that frequently fluctuates. Today krugerrands are made in a variety of weights, including half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth ounce.
Coin dealers and collectors often obtain krugerrands through estate sales. The price that the dealer or collector will pay depends upon the current gold market price on that particular day. For example, imagine that a family man invests in buying 100 krugerrands when the gold prices are $300 per ounce. When the man dies ten years later, the value of the krugerrands will be based upon gold prices at that time.
Like any investment, buying gold krugerrands is never a “sure thing.” When the man dies, gold may be priced at $150 per ounce, meaning that the family will have lost money on the investment. However, gold prices may well be $700 per ounce, giving the family a sizeable return on the investment if they decide to sell the krugerrands. In cases like this, probate attorneys recommend that surviving heirs consult a coin dealer about the fluctuation of gold prices; knowing when to sell and when to hang on is a matter that requires professional consultation.
If you buy gold krugerrands as an investment, keep in mind that these coins are 22 carat gold; an extremely high grade in quality. Pure gold, at 24 carats, is too soft to be minted so it is “cut” with various amounts of metal to make it hard enough to mint. Novice investors often make the mistake of comparing the gold prices for jewelry items made from 18, 14, or 12 carat gold with the gold price or market value of the 22 carat krugerrand. All gold is not created equal!
The South African krugerrand was the prototype model for other one-ounce coins like the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, the Australian Nugget, the Mexican Gold Peso, and the United States Golden Eagle. Since these coins are not as widely available as investments as the krugerrand is, they are sometimes subjects of counterfeiting. Have a coin consultant investigate the current gold price, the authenticity of the coin, and the coin’s carat weight.