We are often asked what the difference is between cast and minted bars. Here’s a short summary of the most relevant points, including the pros and cons, as well as a few comments beyond the obvious.
When it comes to the fabrication of bars, two principle manufacturing processes are differentiated – casting and minting. Minted bars are generally considered more beautiful and are also generally handled with more care.
The process of casting has existed for thousands of years. Estimates go back to 5000 to 7000 years. While the technique has evolved over time, the modern process does not greatly differ from the ancient days.
In essence, cast bars are fabricated via a method of “molding” or “pouring”. The metal is heated and then poured into a mold in its liquid form. The mold is designed for a certain weight and shape. The metal becomes solid quickly and is taken out of the mold after it has cooled off. Subsequent steps frequently include the stamping or engraving of the bar, identifying things like the refiner, format and bar number. However, often the information is also already included in the mold.
Minting creates a bar that is often more creative, with more intricate and finer design details. Minted bars are cleaner, straighter and perhaps more fitting of the image that many of us have for gold bars.
Historically, the minting process started at a much later point than casting. In fact, it was a further step in the processing of cast bars. After molding, the cast bars were fed through a machine that compressed them into a uniform shape. Although this method is still known and used at times, most mints today use “continuous casting” machinery.
Long strips of metal are produced in a certain width and thickness. Then the strip is cut to pieces of precise length, thus resulting in neutral “blanks” without distinguishing character.
The minting process differs depending on the metal being fabricated between silver, gold or platinum. In any case it is a process that is multi-staged and more complex than the casting process. Therefore, the premium asked for minted bars is generally higher.
Pros and cons – a comparison
Whether you prefer to own a minted or cast bar may come down to nuances of personal preference, some of which may be purely emotional. In our team at Global Gold, some of us just love the beauty and craftmanship of minted bars. Others prefer the ruggedness of cast bars and are more focused on the bullion content and value of the product.