Professional Jeweler Archive: The Coin of the Realm

December 2000

Precious Metals/News

The Coin of the Realm

Coins – mounted in pendants and charms or sold loose – are a logical added product you can offer customers

If you're looking for something a little different to lure new customers and turn them into repeat buyers, consider coins. Manfra, Tordella & Brookes Inc., New York City, is the U.S. distributor for the Perth Mint of Australia and the Pobjoy Mint of Great Britain. MTB offers a variety of coins whose beauty, design and history make them easy conversation-starters for your sales associates and highly collectible for your customers.

Perth Coins

The Perth Mint is one of the oldest in the world. It began as a branch of Britain's Royal Mint in 1899. Today, its coins are distributed around the world and are in such demand they've made the mint one of Australia's top exporters. In 1996, the Perth Mint began the Australian Lunar gold uncirculated series of coins, which are legal tender under Australia's Currency Act.

One side of the coins bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II. The obverse depicts the animal symbol for the Chinese lunar year in which the coin is minted. The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, dates back to before 2600 B.C. and is the longest chronological record in history. The Lunar cycle has 12 years. The first coin in 1996 features the mouse. Subsequent coins depict the ox, the tiger, the rabbit and, this year, the dragon. Next year is the year of the snake. The coins will continue to be minted until all 12 animals represented in the calendar have been honored.

A silver series began in 1999 with the year of the rabbit and will continue until 2010 so all 12 years will be available in silver also.

Each year's coins are available as coins or set in frames, making them usable as pendants or charms. Promotional material describing the historic and symbolic importance of the animal depicted also comes with the coins. The gold series is available in 1, 1/4, 1/10 and 1/20 ounce. The silver series is available in 1 kilo and 10, 2, 1 and 1/2 ounce. All coins are sold uncirculated at a premium over the metal content price.

The Pobjoy Collections

MTB also imports from the Pobjoy Mint, a 350-year-old family-owned mint in Great Britain. In 1998, the Pobjoy Mint began to mint the Cherub Angel collection of Gibraltar Royal coins, which are issued as legal tender by the government of Gibraltar. The 1998 edition features a depiction of Bouguereau's "The First Kiss." Subsequent years also capture the purity and radiance for which angels are known. The obverse bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II. The coins are available in 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10 and 1/25 ounce and are sold uncirculated at a premium over the metal content price.

Many of the company's customers are coin dealers who then sell retail to collectors and investors, says Mirela Kolega, assistant precious metals trader for MTB. She notes, however, that retail jewelers are increasingly coming to appreciate how easy it is to interest their customers in collectible coins and coins finished as jewelry. Coins are marketing and promotion vehicles because once you've piqued someone's interest, says Kolega, he or she will visit your store to see new coins as they are issued. Because of their history and foreign origin, coins create an easy opportunity to talk with customers and create rapport.

MTB also offers 24k gold hologram heart pendants sold as finished pendants. A 21/2-gram heart is $96 keystone. A 5-gram heart is $150 keystone.

• MTB, New York City; (212) 858-3318, fax (212) 858-3430.

– William H. Donahue Jr.

These gold coins can be worn as charms; 24k gold hologram hearts can be worn as pendants.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications