Switzerland might be known for its bank accounts, but did you know that it’s also home to a number of important precious metals refineries? One, in particular, the Valcambi Suisse refinery, located in Balerna, Switzerland, has a long history as one of the world’s largest refineries and precious metals producers.
In 1961, the Valcambi refinery began as Valori & Cambi, but the name was changed shortly thereafter to Valcambi, a combination of the two names. In 1968, Credit Suisse purchased a controlling share in the company, and by 1980 it owned 100% of the refinery. (You may have noticed the Credit Suisse gold bars we carry were refined and minted by Valcambi.)
In the early 2000s, the refinery was again sold, this time to European Gold Refineries SA (EGR), a partnership between the U.S.-based gold mining company Newmont Mining and a group of the original founders of Valcambi.
Then, in 2015, the refinery underwent yet another regime change after it was acquired by the largest gold jewelry manufacturer in the world, Rajesh Exports. Rajesh actually purchased EGR as the company was the sole owner of the refinery at the time.
Valcambi is no stranger to precious metals refining. The facility can refine 1,200 tons of gold and 400 tons of silver each year, not to mention its platinum and palladium refining capabilities. The refinery is so well regarded that it is on the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Good Delivery List, making it an accredited refinery whose products are eligible for trading on the global OTC metals markets.
Valcambi can produce precious metals up to the following purities:
Each precious metal bar refined by Valcambi bears the Valcambi logo made of four equal triangles to symbolize openness, helpfulness, and welcoming. As LBMA Good Delivery guidelines require, each product also has a serial number to ensure its authenticity.
Clients of Valcambi can store their precious metals in the refiner’s secure vaults. Valcambi takes on the full liability of storage risks, and owners can obtain confirmation of all holdings weekly or monthly. However, there are minimum requirements for using Valcambi storage:
Given these minimum requirements, most of Valcambi’s vault space is used by international corporations and world central banks rather than individuals.
Moving precious metals from one location to another can be nerve-racking. Valcambi works with world-class transportation and logistics companies to offer its clients top-of-the-line transportation services.
There are virtually no geographical restrictions on where Valcambi can arrange pickup or dropoff of precious metals at the customers’ request. Transportation services aren’t just offered to those storing precious metals at Valcambi but can also be utilized by miners, bankers, refiners, scrap dealers, and even watchmakers.
Since 1995, Valcambi has offered accredited assaying services based on ISO/IEC 17025 standards. The facility offers many types of testing, including Fire Assay, potentiometric methods, XRF, SPARK, and ICP spectrometry. The testing staff is independently certified in compliance with the Swiss Precious Metals Control Law.
It’s nice to know that every Valcambi gold bar that includes its own assay card has this level of quality control behind it.
One of the refinery’s most significant innovations is the CombiBar, an investment-grade product available in gold, silver, platinum, or palladium versions. In 2010, Valcambi owner ESG noticed that the demand for smaller precious metals bars was increasing. Investors wanted to have physical precious metals bars but didn’t want to necessarily hold them in large weights. However, buying large numbers of lower-weight bars comes with a significant premium over spot price compared to higher-weight bullion bars. With that in mind, the company developed and trademarked the CombiBar.
What makes a CombiBar special is its unique design which makes it divisible and allows you to break the bar into smaller pieces without damaging or degrading the metal. The CombiBar is like a KitKat or Hershey bar; you can easily snap it into smaller, sharable pieces (but it won’t melt in your hand).
For instance, you can break a 50 g gold CombiBar down into 50, 1 g pieces. Each CombiBar is designed with predetermined breaking points for easy separation.
CombiBars come in the following sizes:
Precious metals investors appreciate the CombiBar design as it makes storage and transportation of metals easier. It also allows investors to split their precious metals into smaller portions to sell, increasing trading flexibility. Each individual 1g or 10g unit still has its vital identifying features: the Valcambi logo, its weight, metal, and purity (along with an assay stamp).
Breaking a CombiBar is easy:
With these continuous innovations at Valcambi, who knows what they will come up with next?