Gold was widely used throughout the world as a medium of currency or exchange. India imports approx 800 tons of gold every year. Most of the gold in India goes in to jewelry making. Gold is used as a hedge against inflation and currency risk. also it has industrial uses. Generally gold is kept in the form of coins or bars.
Pure gold is soft therefore, it is alloyed with base metals for use in jewellery, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color.
Gold is the most popular investment asset compared to other precious metals. It is traded in the bullion markets around the world. Traders speculate through futures contracts and derivatives which results in lot of volatility in the prices.
Gold Exchange Traded Funds
Gold exchange traded funds are traded on the major stock exchanges. In India too, Gold exchange traded funds were introduced by UTI in the year 2007 and are traded in the stock markets. Physical gold is held in the bank against which ETFs are issued by the asset management companies. Each unit approximately represents one gram of pure gold. The units issued are credited to investors demat accounts in electronic form. In addition UTI, ETFs issued by Reliance mutual fund, Kotak Mutual Fund, HDFC mutual fund, Birla Mutual Fund and IDBI mutual fund. You can invest up to 5 to 10 percent of your money into gold. If you look at the history, gold was traded at approx 25 dollars an ounce in 1968. Since then due to oil crisis in 1973 and Iran/Iraq war, gold has been rising. It is currently trading at us dollars 1600 an ounce. Now you can see the value of investing in this asset class.
It is advisable to invest into ETFs rather than physical gold. ETF units are kept in electronic form in the demat accounts thus there is no worry of getting lost or stolen.