The Assaying Process
Published on May 25, 2011
Why is assaying important? How does it affect you and who governs it?
Assaying is basically a quality control process. What it does is guarantee the purity, weight, size and volume of precious metals. Fancy that – bang on in four dimensions - that is accurate! The jargon for bullion that is up to the mark is that it has ‘good delivery’.
And it's important to you as an investor because you want to know that what you’re buying is what you take possession of. And the real benefit to you is that when you come to sell your bullion, the quality standard has already been adhered to and you should get the cash quickly.
When gold, silver or any other precious metal is formed into a bar or plate, its quality has to be guaranteed. This process is presided over by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the procedure is very exact. You can read all about the process at their website - follow the link. There is an Assay office in London and they can measure whatever is submitted. They're in charge of hallmarks too. They get into very special acids and accuracy is paramount.
The measuring is accurate to 3 decimal places – hence the 999 moniker you see on the larger plates – and that applies to the bar’s weight, purity, volume and mass. The larger refiners are members of the LBMA so it’s a bit of a club but it is very well policed. When you do buy your bars and coins, make sure your supplier has a direct link to an LBMA refiner. Anything else is just not up to standard!