Golden spike: Boom times for precious metal |

Golden spike: Boom times for precious metal

CHICAGO (AP) – The new gold rush is on.

The price of the precious metal is soaring, hitting a record $1,119 an ounce on Wednesday – confounding market analysts who thought there was no way gold would remain so expensive when it first cracked the unheard-of $1,000 mark last year.

The remarkable run has implications far beyond savvy investors. In New York’s diamond district, more people started showing up late last year to sell their gold, and the crush hasn’t let up, said Anthony Iannelli, owner of Iannelli Diamonds.

“They’re bringing in jewelry from the ’70s and ’80s they don’t wear anymore,” he said. “They’re following the news and see prices are high. They realize they have a little cache, and want to take it out of the vault.”

Typically, gold is a safe place for investors to park their money, not something they buy to make money. It doesn’t earn any interest, and because it’s always sought-after, its value tends to be fairly stable.

For example, when gold first reached $1,000 it was in March 2008, shortly after the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns. Investors bought it up then because they feared for the stability of the financial system.

This time is different. Investors – think of them as the ’09ers – are buying gold to protect themselves against the falling dollar.

The surge has been remarkable. Gold is up 7 percent just this month, and 26 percent for the year. Some forecasters see it going to $1,200, $1,500 or beyond – unless the buying frenzy comes to a halt.

Some analysts are panning the gold speculation.

“You just don’t see increases like this over the short term” that last, says Steve Condon, director of investor advisory services for Truepoint Capital in Cincinnati. “This isn’t materially different from gambling.”

Nevertheless, people across the country are cashing in. More than 100 people a day now come to sell their gold at Ernest Perry’s antique and estate jewelry store in Charlotte, N.C., up significantly in recent weeks.