The ancient Romans used it as everyday currency while the ancient Egyptians confined its use to royal jewelry and religious artifacts. And it was 1849 in the United States when fortune seekers made their way west to California in search of the precious metal.

Today, gold still remains a sought after commodity for jewelry, coins and collectibles. For those seeking gold purely as an investment, local dealers say there are risks and rewards like any other investment and that caution should rule the day before sinking tons of cash into the commodity.

“Many people are not happy with what their savings accounts are making for a percentage and with the way the U.S. debt has risen, many are worried about the future of our dollar,” said Dan Cunliffe II, owner of Republic Jewelry and Collectibles on Center Street in Auburn. “This is an example of why a lot of people have been investing in gold. People see gold as a safe haven in times of crisis.

“Gold has done extremely well over the last 10 years,” said Cunliffe. “As a matter of fact, nearly everyone who has purchased investment gold from us in the last 25 years is making money on it. We have had people coming in to sell us gold they bought from us 10 years ago at $300 so they are making almost five times their investment on it.”

While the rewards have been great for his customers, Cunliffe falls short of saying that gold is a risk proof investment.

“Investing in gold is like anything else, there is a risk. Don’t believe what one person tells you. Do a little research,” said Cunliffe. “We have seen many people get scammed by buying gold from telephone solicitors and really overpaying for it.”

Cunliffe also cautions that everything that glitters is not gold. Many of his customers have bought gold coins through Internet websites only to discover that the coins were gold-plated and worthless.

“Talk to someone you trust or people with a good reputation before buying any gold,” added Cunliffe.

Norm Rousseau, owner of Compass Coins and Jewelry on Lisbon Street in Lewiston for over 35 years, believes that the advertising craze surrounding gold gets people’s attention, but not always in a positive way. He said that some customers have tried to sell gold through dealers that set up temporarily in hotels while others have sold gold through the mail.

“Through the mail can be risky… that’s why you don’t see many companies doing it anymore,” said Rousseau. “If you want to sell gold, go to dealers you trust and compare prices.”

While Rousseau believes that gold is a good stable investment, he often advises customers to invest in silver, what he refers to as “the poor man’s gold.”

“You can get more coin for your money and silver has outperformed gold in the last two years,” noted Rousseau.

Marcel Morin, owner of Pine Tree Trading Incorporated on Lisbon Street in Lewiston for 22 years, buys and sells gold on a daily basis. On a recent visit, he proudly displayed some of his favorite gold items that he recently purchased.

When asked to comment about investing in gold, his answer was bold and abrupt.

“Gold is a terrible investment today,” said Morin, while two of his customers lounging in his shop nodded in agreement. “With gold at $1370 to $1400 an ounce, it is a terrible investment.”

Morin explained that with gold at such a high rate, an average investor would need lots of money and a high volume of gold to see a substantial return. “At its current price, it has to go up a lot more to get a return,” said Morin, who often advises his customers to invest in silver because it is much more affordable. “I’m what you might call a ‘working man’s’ investor.”

While area dealers may differ on investing strategies, they all agree on these basics about gold investing.

Buy it from someone you trust. All agree that face-to-face transactions with a reputable dealer are the best way to go.

Keep it in a safe place. The last thing you want is to have gold stolen. There’s no way to replace it. Dealers advise using deposit boxes at banks or to have large home safes.

Only invest what you can afford to invest. While gold has done well, it could also decline. Investors should diversify and not have everything invested in gold.

While there are many websites on the Internet with information about investing in gold, most are run by gold buyers and sellers. You’ll find interesting information at these sites including www.usgoldbureau.com, www.usagold.com, www.gold-investment.info and www.cmi-gold-silver.com.


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