Acid Test - A means of determining the fineness of gold through the use of nitric acid and aqua regia.

Actual Gold Content - The amount of gold that exists in an object when all the alloys have been subtracted.

Ag - The chemical symbol for silver.

Alchemy - The search throughout history for a chemical process that would turn Base Metals into gold.

Allocated - A bank storage account in which the client's metal is individually identified as his, and physically segregated from all the other gold in the vault; in the event of a default by the holding bank, the investor becomes a secured creditor. (See Unallocated Account, Pool Account, Certificates)

Alloy - A mixture of two or more metals. Metals such as silver, nickel, copper and zinc are frequently mixed with gold to provide certain characteristics, (such as colour or hardness). Common alloys used in the jewellery industry are 22 karat, 18k, 14k & 9k.Pure gold is 24 karat. (See Karat)

Alluvial Gold - Gold nuggets and particles which are found in rivers and streams and are recovered by dredging or panning methods.

American Numismatic Association (ANA) - A nonprofit educational organization that encourages the study of money throughout the world. (See Numismatics)

Approved Refiner - One of a select group of refineries whose metal production is seen as meeting minimum standards for purity and appearance, and whose bars are accepted for delivery against contracts on Futures Exchanges and on the "Spot" market. (See COMEX, Futures Contract, Spot, Spot Market)

Assay - The act of testing gold or silver to determine its purity.

Au - The chemical symbol for gold.

Auction - An offering to sell an item or group of items in which the price is determined by the highest bidder, sometimes with a reserve (minimum) price.

Avoirdupois - The system of weights and measures commonly used in the U.S. and Great Britain in which 16 oz. = 1 pound. It is used for most solid objects except precious metals and gems. One avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 grams or 437.50 grains. (See Gram, Grain, Troy Ounce)

Base Metal - Base metal is a mixture of non precious metals. Typically a metal from the group; copper, aluminum, nickel, tin, zinc and lead. It is frequently used as a base for gold-filled, gold plated or rolled gold plate coverings.

Bar - A generic term for a bar of gold or silver and a non-numismatic form of precious metal bullion. Typically 400 oz gold or 1,000 oz silver, but can come in various sizes. (See Kilobar, TT Bar, Numismatic, Ingot)

Bear - Someone who believes prices are going to fall. A Bear "claws the market down". (See Bull)

Bear Market - A market in which the primary trend is down. (See Bull Market)

Bid / Ask - Bid or buy is the price at which a dealer is willing to pay. Ask or sell is the price at which a dealer is willing to sell.(See Spread)

Bourse - A location where dealers buy and sell coins with each other and the public, such as at a coin show. (See Coin Show)

Brilliant Uncirculated - Generally a generic term used to describe a coin that is near proof like status and has not been circulated. (See Circulated, Mint, Proof, Proof-Like)

Bull - Someone who believes prices are going to rise. A Bull "tosses the market up".

Bull Market - A market in which the primary trend is up. (See Bear Market)

Bullion – Precious metals that are at least 99.5% pure in negotiable or trading shape, such as a wafer, bar, ingot, or coin. (See Fineness, Wafer, Bar, Ingot)

Bullion Coin - A legal tender coin whose market price depends on its gold content, rather than its rarity or face value. Typically of BU condition, rather than proof and have little or no numismatic value. (See Premium, BU, Spot, Legal Tender, Numismatic, Face Value)

Business Strike - The strike used by the mint to manufacture coins for everyday use. This differs from a proof strike. (See Proof, Mint)

Bust - The head, neck, shoulders and upper chest of an image generally found on the obverse of a coin. (See Obverse, Reverse)

Carat - A measure of the weight of precious stones. It is not to be confused with Karat which is a measurement of the fineness of gold. (See Karat, Grain, Gram, Troy, Fineness)

Cash Market - A market in which delivery and payment have to be made within two working days of the transaction date. (See Spot Market)

Cash Price - Price required for immediate settlement since most gold and silver purchases are cash transactions. Also known as Spot Price. (See Spot, Spot Price)

Central Device - The main design found on either side of a coin. (See Obverse, Reverse)

Certificates - A common instrument issued by banks to signify ownership of a quantity of precious metals without taking delivery. Certificates confirm an individual's ownership while the bank holds the metal on the client's behalf. The client saves on storage and personal security issues, and gains liquidity in terms of being able to sell portions of the holdings (if need be) by simply telephoning the custodian. (See Liquidity, Allocated, Unallocated, Pool Accounts)

Certified Coin - A coin authenticated and graded by a professional service. (See Grading Service, NGC, PCGS)

Circulated - Denotes money that is no longer in mint state, generally as a result of normal handling and exchange. (See Mint State, Uncirculated)

Clad Coinage - Coins that have a core and outer layer made of different non-precious metals, such as the copper-nickel over copper composition of U.S. dimes, quarters, and halves minted presently.

Clipping - Deliberate shearing or shaving from the edge of gold and silver coins. Patterns and mottos are included on edges to discourage the practice.

Coin - A piece of metal with a distinctive stamp and of a fixed value and weight issued by a government and used for commerce. (See Legal Tender, Face Value)

Coin of the Realm - A legal tender coin issued by a government meant for general circulation. (See Legal Tender)

Coin Show - An event where numismatic items are bought, sold, traded and often exhibited. (See Bourse, Numismatic)

COMEX – One of the world's major commodities futures exchanges where gold and silver are traded. The COMEX is in New York City and is a division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). (See NYMEX)

Commemoratives - Legal tender coins or medallions usually minted of gold or silver to commemorate themes, events, places, or people. (See Legal Tender)

Correction - A decline in prices following a rise in a market.

Counterfeit - A coin designed to imitate a specific real coin and deceive would be buyers. Many fakes have been found coming out of China. (See Copy, Fake, Mint)

Copy - A copy is a coin designed to imitate a real coin. (See Fake, Mint)

Cu - The chemical symbol for copper.

Cull - A coin that is extremely worn and/or damaged

Currency - Paper money (See Fiat, Legal Tender, Silver Certificates)

Delivery - The actual transfer of the ownership of gold or silver. This does not necessarily involve physical shipment but can be done on paper with the bullion remaining in the vaults of a specified bank

Denomination - The face value of a coin. (See Face Value)

Device - A design found on a coin. Frequently it is the bust or profile of a person who symbolizes a particular country at a particular time in history or a country's coat of arms or insignia. (See Bust)

Design - The devices, lettering, etc. appearing on a coin and their arrangement with respect to each other.

Die - An engraved metal object used to strike or stamp a design upon a blank piece of metal to make a coin.

E Pluribus Unum - "Out of many, one"; the motto on many U.S. coins

Edge - The side of a coin which may be reeded, lettered or plain.

Extraction - The act of mining ore from a mine.

Face Value - The nominal value given to a legal tender coin or currency (for example a 1-oz gold American Eagle has a face value of $50). It is the minimum value guaranteed by the issuer but does not necessarily reflect the current market price of the metal. (See Legal Tender, Spot)

Fake - Similar to a copy and counterfeit coin but generally made with an inferior metal. (See Copy, Mint)

Fiat Money - Paper money made legal tender by law, although not backed by gold or silver.

Field - The open area or background on a coin.

Fine Gold - Pure, 24 karat, .999 fine gold. (See Karat)

Fineness - The purity of a precious metal alloy usually expressed in parts per thousand (for example a gold bar of .995 fineness contains 995 parts gold and 5 parts of another metal. Thus 995 or two nines five is 995/1000 or 99.5% pure).(See Karat)

Fine Ounce - A troy ounce of gold or silver which has a minimum purity of 99.5% (.995) (See Fineness, Troy Ounce)

Fine Weight - The metallic weight of the pure metal (either gold or silver) that a coin, bar or ingot contains, as opposed to the item's gross weight which includes the weight of the alloying metal. Example: a 1-oz American Gold Eagle has a fine weight of one troy ounce but a gross weight of 1.0909 troy ounces. (See Alloy, Troy Ounce, Fineness)

Fineness - The purity of a precious metal alloy usually expressed in parts per thousand (for example a gold bar of .995 fineness contains 995 parts gold and 5 parts of another metal. Thus 995 or two nines five is 995/1000 or 99.5% pure). (See Karat)

Fine Ounce - A troy ounce of gold or silver which has a minimum purity of 99.5% (.995) (See Fineness, Troy Ounce

Fine Weight - The metallic weight of the pure metal (either gold or silver) that a coin, bar or ingot contains, as opposed to the item's gross weight which includes the weight of the alloying metal. Example: a 1-oz American Gold Eagle has a fine weight of one troy ounce but a gross weight of 1.0909 troy ounces. (See Alloy, Troy Ounce, Fineness)

Fix - The London Gold Fixing. A meeting of representatives from Bullion Banks at 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day to determine (fix) a benchmark value for gold that is used to settle various contracts between buyers and sellers.

Fools Gold - Iron pyrite is often mistaken by novices for gold. Although its color resembles gold, its properties are very different from gold. It is hard and brittle while gold is soft and malleable.

Fractional - A coin with a odd metal content amount. The British Sovereign contains a gold metal content of .2354oz and is a good example of a fractional.

Gold - A precious yellow metallic element that is resistant to oxidation and is highly ductile and malleable. In the United States, a metal must have 10 Karats of gold or more to be called gold.

Gold Color - Variations in the alloys used with gold create different colors of gold such as yellow, green, red and white. The most common alloys used with gold are: silver, copper, zinc, and nickel. Silver and zinc tend to give gold a greenish hue, copper a reddish cast and nickel a white color.

Gold Electroplate - Process by which 24 karat gold is deposited on another metal electrolytically. The plating must be at least seven millionths of an inch thick.

Gold Filled (GF) - A process by which a layer of at least 10 kt. gold has been mechanically bonded to another metal (usually a base metal). This layer usually constitutes AT LEAST 1/20th of the total weight of the metal in the piece. Items are marked G.F. preceded by the karat fineness of the veneer.

Gold Flashed - A gold coating which is less than seven millionths of an inch thick. It is sometimes called gold washed.

Gold Loan - A financing mechanism whereby gold is borrowed from a bullion bank (which has usually borrowed it from a central bank), and sold into the market to raise cash, usually to finance a gold mining operation. The metal is then repaid over an agreed period of time. The interest on the loan is usually paid either in dollars or in gold subject to the agreement between the counter-parties.

Gold Nugget - Placer gold which has been washed out of the rocks generally into river beds where it has been beaten by the water and rocks into a "nugget" shape.

Gold Plate - A common term for electro-gold plating.

Gold Standard - The term to designate the monetary standard of a country who’s currency is backed up by physical bullion and where the notes and coins of a country can be exchanged for the underlying metal. (See Currency, Silver Certificate)

Good Delivery - The specification that a bar of precious metal must meet in order to be acceptable for delivery at a particular exchange.

Good Delivery Bar - A bar of gold or silver that is acceptable for delivery against a metals contract. (See Good Delivery)

Grade - A term summarizing the overall condition of a coin or other numismatic item. (See Certified Coin, NGC, PCGS)

Grading Service - A company that grades numismatic coins. Generally, graded coins are encapsulated in plastic, a procedure called "slabbing." PCGS and NGC are the two dominant grading services in the United States. (See NGC, PCGS, Grade, Certified Coin, Slab)

Grain - The earliest known unit of weight and was originally one grain of wheat or barley. It is equal to 0.0648 grams Troy and 24 grains are equivalent to one pennyweight. There are 480 grains in a Troy ounce and 437.5 grains in an Avoirdupois ounce. (See Troy Ounce, Avoirdupois, Pennyweight, Gram)

Gram - A basic unit of weight measurement equivalent to .0322 Troy ounces. 31.1035 grams = 1 Troy ounce, (See Troy Ounce)

Hallmark - A mark or impression made on gold and silver bullion which indicate the producer and purity of the particular item. (See Assay, Mint Mark)

Ingot - A generic term used to describe a gold or silver bar. (See Bar)

Intrinsic Value - The value of a coin's metal content.

Karat - A measure of gold fineness or purity, scaled from 1 to 24. Pure gold is considered to be 24 karat and has at least 999 parts pure gold per 1 thousand. For this reason, the actual gold content of any object is the percentage relationship of its purity to 24. For example, 18 karat gold is 18/24 kt or 75% pure gold. That’s 750 parts pure gold and 250 parts alloy fine. (See Fineness)

Karat Gold - Gold which is 10 karat or better used in the manufacture of jewelry. According to U.S. law, the metal must be at least 10 karat or it cannot be called gold. (See Karat)

Kilobar - A standard gold bar containing 1 kilogram (32.1507 troy ounces) of fine gold and traded widely around the world. (See Troy Ounce)

Kilogram - 1,000 grams (32.1507 troy ounces). (See Gram, Troy Ounce)

Legal Tender - The coin or currency identified by a government to be acceptable as a medium of exchange and which may be legally offered in payment of an obligation. (See Currency, Coin)

Legend - The inscription on a coin. (See Coin)

Liquid Market – A market where selling and buying can be accomplished with ease.

Liquidity - The quality possessed by a financial instrument of being readily convertible into cash without significant loss of value. A liquid market has many buyers and sellers which allows for large volumes of business to be transacted, while an illiquid market can mean that small volumes of business have a tendency to push prices higher or lower quickly.

Luster - A frosty appearance on the surface of a coin.

Market Maker - A member company of the London Bullion Market Association who is prepared to 'make' a price to other wholesale bullion banks in order to ensure a steady supply of liquidity to the market. (See Liquidity)

Market value - The price at which a coin or bullion item trades. (See Bid / Ask)

Medallion - A round piece of metal resembling a coin but not a "coin of the realm." A medallion may be issued by a government or private mint. (See Round, Coin of the Realm)

Melt Value- The worth of precious metal in a coin, determined by multiplying the amount of the metal it contains by the spot price of the metal. (See Spot)

Metric Ton - 1,000 kilograms or 32,151 troy ounces.

Mint - The place where a coin or bar was manufactured.

Mintage - The total amount of coins struck of a specific coin.

Mint Mark - A letter or symbol stamped on a coin to identify the minting facility where it was struck. (See Hallmark)

Mint State - Describes an uncirculated coin in "perfect" condition. (See Uncirculated, BU)

Modern Issues - Current coins, whether struck for circulation or for sale to investors or collectors.

MS-60 - The lowest grade of Mint State coins. Higher-grade coins are labeled MS-61 up to MS-70. Coins showing wear are graded below MS-60 and fall into grades from AU down to G, with G being a coin showing great wear and AU being a coin showing little wear. (See Mint State, Grade)

NGC- Acronym for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America, one of two major coin grading services in the United States.(See Grading Service, PCGS)

Numismatic Coins - Coins whose prices depend more on their rarity, historical significance, condition, dates, and mint marks other than the value of the precious metal they contain. Generally, premiums for numismatic coins are higher than for bullion coins.

Numismatics - The scientific study of coins and currency and their history. (See Numismatic Coins)

Numismatist - A coin collector.

NYMEX - The New York Mercantile Exchange, an exchange where commodities are traded on a future basis. (See COMEX)

Obverse - The front side of a coin which contains the principal design. The device on the obverse usually consists of a portrait and date. (See Reverse)

Ounce - A unit of weight. In the precious metals industry, an ounce means a troy ounce equal to 31.1035 grams. (See Troy Ounce, Avoirdupois, Gram)

Paper Gold - Contracts to buy or sell gold which do not involve an actual exchange of physical metal. Paper gold could be used to describe futures contracts, options or certificates. (See Certificates)

PCGS - Acronym for Professional Coin Grading Service, one of two major coin grading services in the United States. (See NGC, Grading Service, Certified Coin)

Pennyweight - An American unit of weight for gold in which one pennyweight equals 24 grains or 1/20 of a Troy ounce. (See Troy Once, Grain)

Physical - Refers to actual underlying metal as opposed to a claim on the metal represented by paper gold. (See Paper Gold, Certificates)

Physicals Market - A marketplace in which the physical product is traded, as opposed to a futures market where “contracts” are traded and physical delivery of the product may or may not take place.

Planchet - A blank piece of metal used for stamping a coin or medallion. (See Coin, Medallion)

Pool Account - A precious metal account held with a bullion bank where the account holder's claim is for unallocated bullion. This is in contrast to an allocated account which is really just a safekeeping arrangement. (See Allocated Account, Unallocated Account, Certificates)

Precious Metals - Metal of great value being gold, silver, platinum and other platinum group metals.

Premium - The dollar amount or percentage a coin sells above the spot price of its metal content. The premium includes the costs of fabrication, distribution and a minimal dealer fee. Rare coins carry an additional premium called numismatic value. (See Spot, Numismatic Coin)

Proof - Highly polished dies and special plainchants are used to produce coins with a mirror-like finish. Proof coins are created by striking the coin multiple times, using higher pressure, and polishing the dies. A proof strike is very different from a business strike and proof coins are generally made for collectors and not for normal use. Proof refers to the manner in which a coin was minted and not to its condition. (See BU, Business Strike)

Pure Gold - Gold having a purity of 24 karats or 99.99%.

Red Book - A Guide Book of U.S. Coins, a retail price guide for U.S. coins published annually, originally written by R.S. Yeoman

Refining - The separating and purifying of gold and silver from other metals.

Restrikes - Government issued reproductions of a former circulating coin. Restrikes are new coins made from old dies which is why they are referred to as new mintings. They generally have the same specifications as the original coins of which they are copies - this includes the same dates, composition, and dimensions. Restrikes are considered bullion coins because such a large number were made that they have no numismatic value. In fact, the original coins made from the dies used for restrikes have no numismatic value because there is no way to tell them from the copies.

Reverse - The back side of a coin. (See Obverse)

Round - A disc shaped non-numismatic piece of precious metal bullion. (See Numismatic, Bullion, Medallion)

Safe - A metal container usually having a lock, used for storing valuables.

Safe Deposit Box - A safe deposit box is a type of safe usually located at a bank or post office, rented to customers for storing of valuables.

Silver Certificate - A note (paper money) once redeemable for its face value in silver. (See Currency, Certificates)

Slab - A coin certified by a professional grading service as authentic and encapsulated in a sealed hard plastic holder also containing a label bearing the service's opinion of its grade and other information (See Certified Coin, NGC, PCGS, Grading Service)

Spot - The current market price of a precious metal based on delivery in two business days. The closing spot price varies with markets located in numerous cities and countries throughout the world. When buying gold and silver in the United States, the price will generally be based on the prices in New York or Chicago.

Spread - The difference between Bid (the price a dealer is willing to pay) and Ask (the price a dealer is willing to sell). (See Bid / Ask)

Swap - Commonly used in physical gold markets to describe a transaction entered into with another party whereby gold in one location is swapped for gold in another location. The cost of the swap implies theoretical shipping, insurance, and financing costs, and also reflects demand for metal in a particular location.

Troy Ounce - A unit of measure equivalent to 31.1034768 grams or 480 grains. When the price of gold or silver is quoted per ounce, the ounce being referred to is a troy ounce, not a standard (Avoirdupois) ounce. One troy ounce equals 1.09711 Avoirdupois ounces. It takes 14.5833 troy ounces to equal one standard (Avoirdupois) pound. The name troy is derived from the town in the Champagne region of France called Troyes which was an important center of commerce for precious metals during the middle ages. (See Gram, Grain, Avoirdupois)

Two-Nines Five (0.995) - Gold with a purity of 99.50%. This is the standard accepted by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) for delivery against "Spot" bullion contracts.

Unallocated - An account in which the client's bars are not separated from other metal that may be held by the bank, and which may be cheaper than an allocated account as some banks do not charge for storage. The client carries higher counterparty risk, however, as he is an unsecured creditor in the event of a default by the holding bank. For example; a person depositing $100 in a bank account will have a claim on $100 but will not (likely) get back exactly the same banknote. (See Pool Account, Allocated, Certificates)

Uncirculated - A coin in new condition, sometimes said to be brilliant uncirculated or BU. The term is often used interchangeably with Mint State. (See BU, Mint State, Circulated)

Wafer - A generic term used to describe small gold bars, (usually less than 50 grams). So-called because they are thin and resemble a wafer biscuit.

Wear - Metal lost during handling and contact with other objects.

White Gold - A gold alloy containing whitening agents such as silver, palladium or nickel as well as other base metals. Often used as a setting for diamond jewelry.

World Gold Council - An industry based organization sponsored by a number of gold mining companies who pay an annual fee based on their level of production. The role of the World Gold Council is to promote the use of gold around the world.

Popular Bullion Coins

  • U.S. Gold Buffalo

    Gold Buffalo

    U.S. Silver Eagle

    Silver Eagle

    U.S. Morgan Dollar

    Morgan Dollar

    U.S. Peace Dollar

    Peace Dollar

    Canadian Maple

    Australian Nugget

    Australian Gold Nugget

    Australian Lunar Series

    Australian Lunar Series Dragon

    BritishBritannia

    BritishBritannia

    Austrian Philharmonic

    Austrian Philharmonic