A. Positively. Most of the strong demand globally since the beginning of 2016, has been driven by the low-to-negative-rate environment. At a time when fixed-yield investments pay little to nothing, gold and silver at least provide some upside potential. In addition, these metals protect against the downside risks implied by the low to non-existent rates of return. Those two very persuasive arguments have translated to strong institutional and fund demand at the ETFs as well as demand among individual investors for physical coins and bullion. A mid-2016 Bankrate survey of investors is telling in this regard. One in six chose gold as the best place to park money they would not need for the next ten years, the same number that chose stocks.
Gold was used in commerce (beside other precious metals) in the Ancient Near East since the Bronze Age, but coins proper originated much later, during the 6th century BC, in Anatolia. The name of king Croesus of Lydia remains associated with the invention (although the Parian Chronicle mentions Pheidon of Argos as a contender). In 546 BC, Croesus was captured by the Persians, who adopted gold as the main metal for their coins. The most valuable of all Persian minted coinage still remains the gold drahms, minted in 1 AD as a gift by the Persian King Vonones Hebrew Bible new testament (Matthew 2.1–23). Ancient Greek coinage contained a number of gold coins issued by the various city states.
Though most bars, coins, and rounds manufactured across the world, be it in Austria, USA, or China, contain 99.9% pure gold, a few mints like the Royal Canadian Mint surpass the typical purity levels by using 99.99% pure gold in their products. Even though a 0.09% purity increase might not seem like a lot, it vaults the gold products into an elite category of products.
Bullion coins sell for a premium over the market price of the metal on the commodities exchanges. Reasons include their comparative small size and the costs associated with manufacture, storage and distribution. The amount of the premium varies depending on the coin's type and weight and the precious metal. The premium also is affected by prevailing demand.