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Perth Mint hoping for lucrative ‘Crown Jewels’

Perth Mint’s new “Crown Jewels” locket coins could prove to be the mint’s most financially rewarding product yet.

Never mind that the 5,000 gold coins sell for $1,350 each, or that there are 50,000 silver coins on the market at $95 each.

After all, that potential $11.5 million in sales could be just the start of a whole new business enterprise for the mint.

For the next five years, Perth Mint will hold the exclusive worldwide licence to produce coins with free-moving parts and, if the international numismatic (coin and medal-collecting) community likes the concept, mints and other companies across the world will be calling into Perth to get their variant of the coin produced.

Importantly, the licence agreement covers not only coins, but medallions and tokens too.

For instance, a market might be found among casinos for the production of collectors’ edition-style chips.

As the marketing world might suggest, wouldn’t this high-roller like to hold onto a “limited edition” $10,000 chip rather than go back to the cashier’s office to exchange it for plain old plastic or paper?

The first locket coins are basically standard coins with their middle cored out and replaced by a capsule of clear acrylic. The capsule contains tiny precious stones – two carats of rubies, sapphires and diamonds in the gold coins, and 1.5 carats of rubies, sapphires and cubic zirconia in the silver coins.

At this early stage in the development of the locket coin, Perth Mint is producing only

its own coins and assessing

what demand there will be in the future.

The mint’s managing director, Veronica Maguire, launched the coins in Perth this week, and has flown to Basel, Switzerland, to launch the coins at a major annual international coin convention.

She said the concept was still

too young to be contemplating revenue figures for the next

five years, though she anticipated the rewards could be “very substantial”.

The Crown Jewels locket coins are legal tender of the Cook Islands, a country with which the Perth Mint has worked since 1986. The silver coin has a face value of one Cook Island dollar, and the gold coin a face value of one hundred Cook Island dollars.

Because the formal production agreement was reached between the mint and the coin’s inventor – a long-term, United States-based client of Perth Mint – only last September, there would have been little time for Australia’s federal Treasury to approve the coins as Australian legal tender in time for the Queen’s Jubilee.

The approvals process is simpler in the Cook Islands and, as coins with face values are “a thousand times more interesting than medallions” for collectors, according to Ms Maguire, it made commercial sense to use that option.

Perth Mint anticipates the international market will claim about 70% of the “Crown Jewels” coins, the remainder going to Australian collectors.

The other Queen’s Jubilee commemorative coins the mint is producing are Australian legal tender and are expected to sell equally between the domestic and international markets.

“With coins, there’s been a huge move to have innovative things happening all the time,” Ms Maguire says.

“In 1995-96, colour started to be produced on coins. Then the next thing was putting tiny gold inserts onto silver coins, and we’ve also put diamonds in coins.

“But everything is fixed – this is a whole new world again, and that’s one of the reasons we think it will be so popular.”

The Mint will be direct-marketing the coins to its existing domestic and international client base, but will also be using national print media to promote the coins more widely.

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