Private investors in Switzerland, Austria and Germany are lining up to buy gold bars the size of a credit card that can easily be broken into one gram pieces and used as payment in an emergency.
Now Swiss refinery Valcambi, a unit of US mining giant Newmont, wants to bring its "CombiBar" to market in the United States and build up its sales presence India - the world's largest consumer of gold where the precious metal has long served as a parallel currency.
Investors worried that inflation and financial market turmoil will wipe out the value of their cash have poured money into gold over the past decade. Prices have gained almost 500 percent since 2001.
Syria are attempting to sell their gold reserves at prices well below the market rate in order to raise funds as Western and Arab sanctions on the country begin to bite, diplomats and traders have told Reuters.
"Syria is selling its gold at rock bottom prices," said a Western diplomatic source to the news agency, declining to say where it was being sold. A second diplomat confirmed the information, adding that Damascus was looking to offload everything it could to raise cash, including currency reserves.
Two gold traders in the United Arab Emirates said Syria was offering gold at a discount, making offers at about 15% below market value.