If your business prepares financial statements pursuant to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the balance sheet must reflect the value of gold your company owns. However, the accounting principles provide different categories that you can report the gold under. The appropriate category depends on what your company intends to do with the gold, and whether it holds it in its physical form.
The balance sheet separates a company’s assets into two broad categories: current and non-current assets. The non-current asset category covers assets that a company doesn’t intend to sell within one year of its acquisition. Common non-current assets include the buildings and equipment the company owns, as well as any other long-term investment. If your company purchases gold with the intention of holding it for more than one year to realize appreciation in value, you should report it as non-current asset.
The current assets category on your company’s balance sheet reflects anything of value it owns that the company expects to either consume in a manufacturing process or liquidate for its cash value within one year of purchase. This also includes the balance in company bank accounts, even if there is no intention to spend the funds. Therefore, if you purchase the gold as a short-term investment, reporting it as a current asset is most appropriate. By reporting it this way, investors and analysts who review the company balance sheet will know the company has assets it can easily convert into cash, if necessary. At times, this provides some assurance to investors and lenders that the company has sufficient cash to meet future expenses.
Within each of the two asset categories, there are subcategories that provide additional insight on each asset. For example, if the gold the company owns is an intangible asset, such as a future or forward contract, accountants treat the investment like a security. As a result, it is appropriate to classify the company’s holdings in gold investments as marketable securities. A marketable security is an investment that can easily be liquidated, if necessary. However, if there are terms attached to the investment that require the company to hold onto it for more than one year, you should classify it as a long-term investment under non-current assets.
Companies that operate jewelry retail outfits or that manufacture jewelry are among the few industries that can report gold on a balance sheet in different ways. If you are a retailer of gold jewelry, classifying the gold as inventory under current assets makes sense. This is because in most cases, retailers anticipate selling inventory before one year. However, if you buy gold to use as a raw material to manufacture jewelry, you also want to list it under the current assets of the balance sheet as raw materials.