Tag Archives: silver

Wrap-Up of BullionStar’s visit to FreedomFest 2016 in Las Vegas

Saturday July 16 wrapped up BullionStar's attendance at its first FreedomFest conference and convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the event from Wednesday July 13 through to the Saturday afternoon, the BullionStar team interacted with a wide-range of interesting event attendees, discussing topics ranging from the role of precious metals in investors portfolios, to the safety and security of having offshore storage of investment gold and silver at BullionStar's vault facility in Singapore.

Prospective US customers were interested in the fact that there are no sales or other taxes on bullion in Singapore, no reporting requirements on bullion, and that Singapore is a safe and stable political jurisdiction which upholds property ownership rights and where the Singaporean government actively supports the gold sector. On the topic of specific vaulting infrastructure, potential customers learned that BullionStar's "My Vault" facility provides secure, insured, allocated and segregated bullion storage with 24/7 on-line access to your holdings, using multiple levels of auditing, and that you can hold both bullion and cash on your BullionStar account, thereby using your BullionStar account as a real alternative to a bank account in Singapore.

BullionStar Grand Prize Draw - Silver Bars

Throughout the 3 day convention, attendees could enter a draw at the BullionStar stand for a chance to win one of three substantial silver bar prizes. Additionally, everyone who entered the draw received a free 1/10 troy oz silver coin of .999 purity produced by Golden State Mint, a coin with a design based on the Walking Liberty silver half-dollar historically issued by the US Mint.

The prize draw for the BullionStar silver bars took place on Saturday afternoon as the conference was wrapping up. First prize in the competition was a BullionStar 1 kg silver bar worth nearly US $800. BullionStar silver bars are 99.99% pure silver bars with a high-lustre finish produced by German refinery Heraeus on behalf of BullionStar. Second price was a 10 troy oz Heraeus minted silver bar, produced by Heraeus at its refinery in Hanau, Germany, while third prize was a 5 troy oz Heraeus minted silver bar.

Luke Chua, BullionStar COO and Torgny Persson, BullionStar CEO sum up their impressions of FreedomFest 2016

One of the major themes resonating at this year's FreedomFest event appeared to be that the founding principles of the US such as property ownership rights, personal liberty, and freedom of speech are being eroded, and that the government is encroaching on personal privacy. These themes were also picked up by Rand Paul's keynote speech noted in a previous BullionStar dispatch. A common talking point for people who came to the BullionStar stand during FreedomFest was the worldwide banking reporting obligations imposed on banks by the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) rules and regulations.

Beyond the Frozen Monopoly - Third Party Candidates

Given the current media focus on Republican and Democratic candidates in the upcoming 2016 US presidential election, US and international media often forget that there are other parties’ candidate nominees running in the US presidential race such as Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party. And so FreedomFest was eye-opening in that it was a reminder that other political parties do exist in the US apart from these two powerful incumbent parties, and that there is plenty of political thinking in the US outside the mainstream media's narrowly defined consensus.

In a Reason.TV interview conducted at FreedomFest with Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and his running mate for vice-president, William Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, Weld opened the interview with the interesting perspective that there is a “frozen monopoly of the two parties that has frozen a lot of people's thinking in place,… And they think, 'I have to be a right-winger,' or, 'I have to be a left-winger.' They're not thinking, 'What do I think?”

Steve Forbes - Gold Keeps its Intrinsic Value

During another interview at the convention, Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, posed a very timely and interesting question, asking not which way the Fed will move on interest rates but “Why is the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates in the first place?”. Forbes highlighted that interest rates are the cost of borrowing money and rewarding lenders, and that “by manipulating interest rates, the Fed has deformed credit markets”.

On the subject of gold, Forbes said that “gold is an insurance policy against turmoil and against government’s mis-behaviour towards the currency” and he underscored that it was important to remember that "gold keeps its intrinsic value", and that the price changes in gold are just people’s changing perceptions of the value of currencies. No doubt most BullionStar readers would tend to agree with these sentiments.

That wraps up our coverage of the FreedomFest 2016 event. We hope that these insights have been helpful, and we look forward to providing readers with updates at future events around the world that BullionStar may attend.

Gold & Brexit

In what was an extraordinary day for global financial markets, and a day which will no doubt become legendary and enter folk memory in the UK and elsewhere, the electorate of the United Kingdom voted 51.9 % to 48.1% to leave the European Union. As the first count results began trickling in during the very early hours of Friday morning London time from northern England constituencies such as Newcastle and Sunderland, the cosy optimism that had prevailed in the Remain camp became increasingly agitated as the voting majority swung to the Leave side and quickly snowballed, in what was a shock to many.

Gold Philharmonics and Silver Philharmonics with Euro notes

The Sterling – Dollar cable rate plummeted, gold took off, especially in GBP, and BBC presenters became increasingly stony-faced and pale looking. By 3:40am UK time, Leave was ahead by 500,000 votes, and just an hour later the major UK networks of first ITV and then the BBC called the election to the Leave camp. Nigel Farage, promoter of the Leave side and leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who had earlier conceded then un-conceded defeat, reappeared to the press and when asked what he would do next announced that he was going for a celebratory drink. As Farage and his boisterous entourage were undoubtedly finding a suitable early hostelry to settle into in Westminster, an ashen-faced British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared in Whitehall to announce his resignation in what had already become a day of records.

Gold & Silver Prices

All this time gold was soaring and the British Pound was folding. Gold in GBP started moving at 2:45am UK time when it was at £852, and as the voting tide turned, gold in GBP peaked at 5:30am at approximately £1004, an 18% move in less than 3 hours. GBP gold then fell slightly from the peak and has settled into a roughly £950 to £960 range.

Gold In GBP 24th June 2016

US Dollar gold, which had been as low as $1250 before the voting pattern emerged, surged past $1300 before 3am UK time, and peaked at just under $1340 before 6am UK time, for an up move of 90 bucks, before it too fell back slightly into a range of $1310 to $1325.

Gold in USD 24th June 2016

Silver also had dramatic gains intraday, especially in GBP. Silver in GBP 24th June 2016.

Exchange Rates

GBP - USD suffered an unprecedented fall by over 11% at one stage today, moving down 18 cents at one point from $1.50 to a 31-year low of $1.32, a level not seen since mid-1985. It was since recovered partially to trade at $1.375, still down over 8% on the day.

GBP - USD one day rate, 24th June 2016

The Euro weakened significantly against major currencies, one of the reasons being that the uncertainty of the UK’s exit from the EU may precipitate further defections that could include a Eurozone member country. FTSE equity indices fell sharply intraday before recovering somewhat. Bank shares were hammered especially the shares of UK and European banks.

Gold - Flight to Safety

The massive moves and volatility spikes caught much of the financial markets off-guard, hence the dramatic price movements and flight to safety. As gold was bid, it has yet again proved its role as one of the world’s preeminent safe havens and protectors of wealth that investors will flock to in times of crisis and fiat currency uncertainty. According to ICBC Standard Bank, as cited by the Financial Times, the Shanghai Gold Exchange traded a record equivalent of 143 tonnes of gold during its trading day today – 24th June. One person who seems to have been confident of a Leave win is Arron Banks, a rich donor to the Leave side. He was said to have commissioned a poll of 10,000 people (which is a large sample size), and the results of this poll, released today, revealed a 52 – 48 win for Leave. So perhaps some hedge funds and investment banks were privy to similar data last night.

Central Bank Intervention

The world’s major central banks, who were meeting in Basel at the Bank for International Settlements this week, may appear to have been also blindsided by the election result, however, being the conservative types, they seem to have been prepared for this contingency and have, in a not too subtle way, indicated their collective intention to intervene in the FX and funding markets in a coordinate fashion, and with total disregard of the free functioning of financial markets. Central banks are by their very nature interventionist, meddling and secretive in their interventions, so this is hardly surprising. However, its more blatant than usual.

The Bank of England announced that it “will continue to pursue responsibilities for monetary and financial stability relentlessly”. This use of ‘relentlessly, is quite ominous bank-speak and could even suggest intervention in the gold market, since after all, the Bank of England houses its FX and Gold operations on the same desk and is allowed to use all assets of the HM Treasury’s Exchange Equalisation Account (EEA) to pursue monetary stability. So some ‘smoothing operations’ or ‘stabilisation operations’ on the gold price by the Bank of England (or by the BIS) are not beyond the bounds of possibility. In fact, it is logical for the major central banks to intervene in the gold market since they do not want gold to play the role of canary in the coalmine as this counters their ‘stability’ meme.

The ECB said this morning that it “stands ready to provide additional liquidity in Euro and foreign currency, in close contact with other central banks

In its statement today, the Bank of Japan said that it has ”a network of currency swap arrangements is already established by the central banks of major countries. The Bank of Japan will take appropriate measures as necessary, including activation of this network”.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve announced that it is "carefully monitoring developments in global financial markets, in cooperation with other central banks,….The Federal Reserve is prepared to provide dollar liquidity through its existing swap lines with central banks, as necessary, to address pressures in global funding markets..”

Not to be outdone, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) didn’t just threaten to intervene, it did intervene today as the ‘Swiss franc came under upward pressure’. According to an email sent to Bloomberg by the SNB “has intervened in the foreign exchange market to stabilize the situation and will remain active in that market”.

Demand for Physical Gold

BullionStar saw noticeably higher website traffic today with higher demand and sales than normal, but BullionStar does not have the shortages in inventories that are being reported by other dealers. In fact, BullionStar has plenty of stock.

Where there does seem to be tightness in the physical gold market is in the London wholesale market, where gold has now flowed into London from Switzerland for 3 consecutive months (69 tonnes in May, 80 tonnes in April, and over 40 tonnes in March), most likely to top up gold holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, whose inventory has now recorded a latest multi-year high of 915.9 tonnes. This importation of gold into London from Switzerland does seem to indicate that there is not much free float of gold sloshing around the London Gold Market.

The seismic shifts brought about by today’s extraordinary day in the UK will not settle quickly and may only just be the beginnings of further tremors that have been unwittingly released in into the global economic system. Politically, the UK is in a place where it did not think it would be. Cameron is resigning, Boris Johnson is favourite to take his place, and there is pressure on the opposition Labour leader Corbyn to resign with accusations that he is out of touch with the electorate. In the financial markets, the major banks are in deep trouble and dollar funding is an issue, even according to the central bank interventionalists. In such a climate of evaporating paper wealth, gold, and to an extent silver, are stepping forward to play their traditional roles of war chest assets, assets with real intrinsic value.

Silver Bullion in Singapore

Singapore is one of the best jurisdictions in the world for buying silver bullion. Both silver coins and silver bars are exempted from GST in Singapore.

For physical silver bars the criteria is that the silver bar has to be produced by an LBMA-approved refinery and be of a minimum purity of 99.9% silver.

For silver coins, there’s a list of silver coins exempted from GST published by the Singaporean tax authority, IRAS.

When you buy silver bullion in Singapore you should thus make sure that you buy either a silver bar that is produced by an LBMA-approved refinery or a silver coin included on the below list.

The following silver bullion coins are exempted from GST in Singapore:

Canadian Silver Maple
American Silver Eagle
Austrian Silver Philharmonics
Australian Silver Kookaburra
Australian Silver Koala
Australian Silver Lunar Series
Chinese Silver Panda
Mexican Silver Libertad
Silver Britannia

Heraeus silver bars
Heraeus Silver Bars

Why Buy Silver?

One of the most common questions we get here at BullionStar is whether to buy gold or buy silver. It’s a difficult question to answer but we will go through some of the fundamentals for buying silver bullion in this article.

American Silver Eagles - 1 troy oz
American Silver Eagles

The silver price has been dropping the last couple of years. The price of silver has been dropping even more than the price of gold. This means that the gold/silver price ratio is currently at 76 which is a very high level historically.

gold silver ratio

Industrial demand make up as much as 56% of the demand for silver according to the Silver Institute. This is in contrast to gold where a large majority of the demand is originating from investment or jewelry demand. The silver price is therefore more correlated to, and dependent on, general economic factors.

You can read much more about the most important fundamentals of silver bullion in this article.

Is it better to buy Silver Bars or Silver Coins?

When buying silver bullion you have to consider whether silver bars or silver coins is your best option. The choice depends on your personal preferences. There are a few differences consider.

Price premiums for silver are generally higher than price premiums for gold. Silver bars generally have a slightly lower price premium than silver coins. This means that the price per troy ounce or gram is lower for silver bars than for silver coins. It can thus be argued that you get more silver for your money with silver bars.

Albeit a slightly higher price premium, a good case can however be made for choosing silver coins. Most minted silver coins are weighing 1 troy ounce i.e. 31.1 grams and comes packaged in mint tubes of 20 or 25 coins which in turn are packaged in so called monster boxes of 500 coins. In case there’s a meltdown in the monetary system and silver returns as money, it may be better to sit on plenty of small 1 oz silver coins than a few large silver bars. With 1 oz silver coins you can easily sell or barter a small portion of your silver holdings. If you choose to buy Canadian Silver Maples, the most sold silver coin in the world currently, you get a coin recognised around the world. The Silver Maple together with other popular silver coins like the Silver Eagle and the Silver Philharmonic are all highly liquid silver investment coins.

Silver Storage

There’s many different ways of storing silver bullion. With the high gold/silver price ratio, the main difference to storing gold is that silver bullion is bulky and takes space. If you live in a secure area and have a safe and a safe house, it may be convenient to store your silver bullion at home.

BullionStar however offers a superior solution for silver bullion storage. With us, you can store securely in our vault with us as your vault storage provider. You can control your silver 24/7 online through BullionStar’s online solution, My Vault Storage. If you want to sell your silver or withdraw your silver, you can do so in a matter of seconds from the online interface. With BullionStar’s storage solution, you can also physically audit or physically withdraw your silver at any time without any prior notification.

Another alternative is to store your silver bullion in a safe deposit box with a bank. When you store silver in a safe deposit box, the bank isn’t formally allowed to confiscate or encumber your silver. Do however consider what could happen in case of a bank run if the bank simply closes its doors with an angry crowd outside. Will you be able to take possession of your silver?

BullionStar Financials 2015 – The Year in Review

2015 was a momentous year for BullionStar with sales revenues totaling SGD 89.6m*, a 69.1% increase from 2014.  2015 also marked the first full calendar year in operation for our unique bullion retail shop, showroom and built-in vault which was launched in July 2014.

In 2015, we increased our product range to include over 370 different bullion and numismatics products across 9 different product categories. We also released our very own BullionStar Minted Gold Bars and BullionStar Minted Silver Bars – which offer no spread between the buy and sell price.

We also launched the possibility to keep funds on account with BullionStar thereby simplifying the transactional process and allowing for greater convenience throughout the bullion trading process. Furthermore, we enhanced our Bullion Savings Program (formerly Vault Grams) enabling our customers to convert their BSP Grams to physical bullion where they can take full physical delivery at any time without any charge.

Sales in 2015Fin1

BullionStar’s sales revenue for 2015 was SGD 89.6m*, up 69.1% from 2014.

Comparatively, the total global bullion demand increased by 1% in 2015 if calculated in tonnage and decreased 7.9% if calculated in USD (based on data from the World Gold Council for Q1 to Q3 2015 compared with data for Q1 to Q3 2014). BullionStar's strong and rapid growth is thus rather spectacular when compared to the industry development as a whole.


Overall bullion demand in Singapore decreased from 5.9 tonnes to 4.8 tonnes marking an 18.6% decrease for the first three quarters of 2015 according to the same publication. For the first three quarters of 2015, BullionStar sold approximately 0.9 tonnes of bullion gold, thereby contributing to 18.4% of the total Singaporean bullion market based on the data published by the World Gold Council.

Despite consolidating market conditions in the bullion industry as a whole, we grew our sales revenue steadily during the year and picked up the pace during the second half of the year. The sales revenue of SGD 53.7m for 2H15 was markedly higher than the SGD 35.9m reported for 1H15. Our growth is derived from a mix of increased sales to domestic and international customers. 


By comparing the below pie chart to the corresponding chart for 2014, we can see that gold increased in popularity compared to silver in 2015. Gold consisted of 67.20% of total sales for 2014 whereas it increased to 72.39% of total sales for 2015. One explanation for the proportionate increase in the popularity of gold may be the increasing gold/silver ratio, where 76.4 grams of silver was equivalent in value to 1 gram of gold at the end of 2015, a figure being close to its multi-year highs. With the fall in commodity prices in 2015, silver has been affected to a greater extent than gold due to its predominant industrial usage. Gold, on the other hand, has once again re-emerged as the ultimate safe harbor in times of uncertainty.


What lies ahead

The first couple of weeks of the new year has been characterized by renewed volatility on the global markets following concerns about global debt levels and poor growth. We expect global markets to continue to be volatile during the year. Consequently, bullion stored in a safe and stable jurisdiction like Singapore emerges as a natural diversification option for an increasing number of savers and investors. We expect bullion demand to increase globally in 2016 and particularly here at BullionStar where our strategic focus will be to continue our internationalization efforts by marketing Singapore as the world’s outstanding jurisdiction for buying and storing bullion.

Another noteworthy trend is the increasing popularity of gold coins which have been driven by the increased demand for Canadian Gold Maples for which the Royal Canadian Mint introduced an amended design with improved security features in 2015.

Gold & Silver Prices

The gold price, denominated in Singapore Dollars, declined 4.3% during the year. The gold price started the year at SGD 50.48/gram and ended at SGD 48.33/gram.


The silver price, denominated in Singapore Dollars, declined 6% during the year. The silver price started the year at SGD 0.67/gram and ended at SGD 0.63/gram.


BullionStar Vault Storage

When our customers store their metals with us, they have full control of their bullion portfolio online 24/7. We employ no less than 5 different audit schemes, including third party audits by the LBMA-approved auditor Bureau Veritas, to verify the existence and correctness of the stored bullion. With our vault being integrated in the same venue as our shop and showroom, customers can physically audit and withdraw their precious metals without any prior notification.

By the end of 2015, we stored approximately SGD 53m in precious metals as vault storage provider on behalf of our customers. This corresponds to an increase of 39.5% compared to one year ago.


Customer Satisfaction

We are proud to have earned an outstanding reputation in the bullion industry. At BullionStar, we strive to continuously develop our offering by giving our customers usable online tools, physical accessibility and by sharing our competence and knowledge about precious metals.


About BullionStar

BullionStar is Singapore's premier bullion dealer offering a wide range of precious metals products and services. BullionStar is breaking new ground by introducing modern technology into the age-old precious metals industry. With a proprietary online platform, BullionStar offers customers the ability to efficiently handle and control their bullion holdings 24/7 at their convenience.

BullionStar runs a one-stop retail shop and vault for precious metals at 45 New Bridge Road in Singapore where customers can view, buy, sell, value, deposit, test, audit and physically withdraw precious metals.

With original research and analysis covering the precious metals market on a whole and the Asian market specifically, world renowned analysts Koos Jansen and Ronan Manly keep readers updated on the news that matters.

* This is an indicative report. BullionStar's financial year is 1 July - 30 June. All figures are based on reports from our administration system, are indicative in nature and based on our best efforts.

Amazing Gold Videos

Uncertainty in the Chinese economy and sliding stock markets has dominated the financial news as of late. While the stock markets are sliding, gold and silver prices are up a few percent since the start of the year.

So in the midst of all this, we thought it would good to remind ourselves of the primary reasons why we hold on to physical Gold and Silver. The following videos proudly shot by our customers and friends puts forward the case for physical precious metals better than words can.

These videos were the prize winning videos of a video competition we publicized a few months ago and if we may say so - the quality of the responses were exceptional. Our heartfelt thanks to the following people who put their minds and their hearts into this. Here are the winners:

1st prize: Zachary Shepherdson - The Banana Currency

2nd prize: Jake Oh - Why and Where to Buy Precious Metals in Singapore

3rd prize: Tan Li Na - The Silver Odyssey

3rd prize: Angelo Anthony Agujo - Precious Messages Preserved in Precious Metalsangelo_3rd_prize_bright

Chinese Gold and Silver Pandas 2016

The much awaited Chinese Gold and Silver Pandas for 2016 have now been released! Last year, the manufacturer, China Gold Corporation, surprised collectors with their decision to remove the weight and purity inscription on the reverse side of the coin. For this year's edition, China Gold Corporation once again surprised by revising the weight distribution of the coins.  The 2016 Chinese Gold Pandas are minted in 30 gram, 15 gram, 8 gram, 3 gram and 1 gram while the 2016 Chinese Silver Pandas are minted in 30 g! This represents a shift from the troy ounce system to the metric system. The Chinese Pandas are the first coins in the world to be minted in such weights.

                2016-PBC-Panda-Gold-30g-REV                              2016-PBC-Panda-Silver-30g-REV

The removal of the weight and purity inscription on the reverse side of the coin introduced last year was an unpopular decision and the mint has decided to reinstate the inscriptions for the 2016 edition. This makes the 2015 edition the only edition where coins do not feature any weight and purity inscription.

Collector and investor sentiment following the change to the metric system remains to be seen. Will it be popular enough that other mints feel inclined to follow suit? Or will the China Gold Corporation face criticism, like when they removed the weight and purity of the coin for the 2015 edition, and revert back to the troy ounce system? We will find out, come 2017!

Chinese Gold Panda 2016

The BU version of the Chinese Gold Panda was introduced to the world in 1982 and featured a cute panda sitting while clutching and chewing on bamboo. The mintage for the 1982 Gold Panda was a mere 13,532 coins. In contrast, the mintage for the 2016 Gold Panda edition has been fixed at a maximum of 1,000,000 coins.

The reverse of the 2016 edition features a single cute Chinese Panda resting on a tree branch. The weight, purity and symbol “Au”, which is the chemical representation for gold, is also featured at the bottom of the coin. On the obverse, the familiar Hall of Prayer for Abundant Harvests at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing is featured encircled by "People's Republic of China" in Chinese and the year of issue, 2016.

The Chinese Gold Pandas come sealed individually in sheets of 10 pieces. Collectors normally don't cut open the packaging as a coin in original mint seal may be slightly higher priced on the secondary market than a coin that doesn't have the original seal.

Chinese Silver Panda 2016

The BU version of the Chinese Silver Panda was first minted in 1989 and with the exception of 2001 and 2002, the design of the Chinese Silver Panda has changed every single year. Beginning with a very low mintage of just 250,000 coins when it was first minted in 1989, the mintage for the Silver Panda has increased to a maximum mintage of 8,000,000 coins for 2016. While this may sound like a large number, it can be noted that other bullion coins like the Canadian Silver Maple and the American Silver Eagle have a mintage of over 25,000,000 and 47,000,000 coins respectively.

The packaging for the 2016 edition of the Chinese Silver Panda has changed from a sheet containing 30 coins to a box containing 15 pieces. This has several advantages to collectors. The boxes will allow for easy storage and the box will be more visually appealing than the old sheets. Combined, these two factors should help to drive sales.

Premiums for Chinese Pandas

Although produced as a bullion coin, the Gold and Silver Pandas tend to be a popular collectors coin and assume a high premium for previous editions. The Chinese Gold Panda 2013 – 1 oz, in stock at BullionStar, exemplifies that there's a higher premium for previous editions. An important factor affecting the price premium is the uniqueness of the coin. The 2013 edition was e.g. the only Panda coin ever to feature 3 Pandas on the coin making it unique.

Whether you are a collector looking for interesting coins, investor buying for metal value or speculator buying for future value appreciation, the Chinese Pandas are a great choice!

Ordering from Bullionstar

As always, BullionStar is committed to bringing you the Gold & Silver Pandas at great prices. You can read more about the different coins and place your orders under the respective product pages below:

Chinese Gold Panda 30 gram - 2016

Chinese Gold Panda 15 gram - 2016 

Chinese Gold Panda 8 gram - 2016 

Chinese Silver Panda 30 gram - 2016