A special gold testing method of using nitric acid and hydrochloric acid solutions (aqua fortis and aqua regia) to test the fineness of gold. Some acid samples are also used for testing the authenticity of silver and platinum.
Actual Gold Content
The volume of gold that remains in an item, once all the other types of metals have been removed. The term’s abbreviation is AGW.
Silver's chemical symbol.
A combination of two or more types of metals. Different metals such as copper, zinc, nickel, silver and gold are often mixed with each other to increase their durability and hardness. This results in greater resistance against nicks, but also changes the color.
A date mark on the bullion that has been purposefully changed after the minting process to appear as the product was issued earlier (to make it more valuable).
Official US bullion products struck by the US Mint in gold, platinum, and silver versions. The American Silver Eagles are issued beginning with 1986, and since then became one of the most fashionable bullion coins of US. The gold versions are usually made of an alloy that comprises 91.7% pure gold with the rest being copper and silver while silver coins are made from .999 pure silver. These popular bullion coins are legal tender, yet their intrinsic value is much higher than their denomination. The US Federal Government backs the American Eagles weight and purity.
The process of heating the coin blanks to soften the metal for further pressing and shaping.
A solution obtained by mixing 75% nitric acid with 25% hydrochloric acid, used for testing gold.
The process of selling and buying products simultaneously in different markets to make use of the price differentials in both.
The Latin word for ‘Silver’.
The price at which a dealer is willing to sell a particular commodity.
1. An evaluation procedure to determine the weight, fineness, and quality of precious metals in alloys, or ores.
2. A method of ensuring that a bullion product was produced by the mint in accordance with its purity standards and contains the specified precious metal content. If a product is delivered with an “assay” mark, it means that the assayer guarantees its content.
Gold's chemical symbol, derived from the Latin word “Aurum”.
The Latin word for ‘Gold’.
Australian gold bullion coins, first struck in 1986 as Australian Nuggets, comprising .9999 fine gold (99.99% pure gold). The design of the bullion has been changed every year since 1989, having different kangaroo depictions.
Austrian 100 Corona
A restrike of one of the bullion coins from the 19th century containing .9802 ounces of gold.
Austrian bullion coins made of 99.99% pure gold, depicting the Vienna Concert Hall's famous Great Organ on the obverse side, and the Austrian Philharmonic Orchestra's musical instruments on the reverse side. Minted since 1989, these coins have become Europe’s most popular bullion coins. Also available in silver version.
A system of weight measurement commonly utilized in Great Britain and the US. 16 avoirdupois ounces are equivalent to one pound, while one avoirdupois ounce is equal to 28.35 grams (437.50 grains). This system of measurement is mostly used for solid items and commodities, except for gems, precious metals or stones.
A condition of the market in which the spot price is seen to be higher than the forward prices for a particular commodity. It's often experienced in markets with supply shortages. The opposite of ‘Contango’ market.
A small scratch, ding or blemish on a coin that occurs from the contact with other coins from the bag. These marks usually refer to uncirculated coins and can influence the coin’s overall value.
Precious metal bullion, usually having a rectangular shape, cast or minted from a mass of metal.
A mixture of metals which are not precious (such as zinc, nickel, copper, lead, iron, and aluminum), mostly used as a base onto which gold plating and gold filling are done.
A market condition where prices of stocks or other commodities are expected to decline in the near future (usually occurs during the recession). The opposite is the ‘Bull’ market.
Coins which are made from two metals bonded together.
The price at which a dealer is prepared or willing to buy a particular commodity.
A plain metallic disc that serves as the basis for making bullion or coinage. Essentially, it’s a coin or bullion that has not been struck with a front, back or edge design.
A .2354 troy ounce gold coin which served as a measurement standard for other gold coins for a long time since 1489. Each sovereign contains 91.7% pure gold. The coins have been manufactured by various mints of the British Empire including Sydney, Perth, Ottawa, London and Bombay.
BU (Brilliant Uncirculated)
Coins that haven’t been in public circulation. These coins show original luster and are in a flawless condition or have minor imperfections.
A market condition in which prices are expected to rise in the near future (usually occurs during economic recovery or boom). The opposite is the ‘Bear’ market.
1. Coins or rounds made of silver, platinum, gold or palladium, with the value determined by spot prices and usually having little to no numismatic value.
2. A state in which a metal has been shaped, such as a wafer, bar or ingot. In the United States, the most commonly traded gold bullion weighs less than 10 ounces.
A coin made of a precious metal, whose value is ascertained by its inherent precious metal content. Most of them are bought and sold as investments. Such coins might have a denomination and can be issued by a government mint, yet their face value is relative to their intrinsic value (low selling premium).
Bullion Precious Metals
Refers to gold, palladium, platinum and silver. They are offered in a particular trading shape (bars, coins, rounds, etc.) and are bought or sold at prices based on their intrinsic value.
See Intrinsic Value.
A method of manufacturing coins for everyday usage which is used by mints. Opposed to proof technique, which is reserved for producing coins for collectors.
The image of the upper chest, shoulders, neck and head of a certain person that is usually found on the front of most coins.
The prices set by the precious metal trader for the metal amount to be purchased or sold. These prices are usually relative to the precious metal’s spot price and, ideally, they are kept as low as possible.
A right (not an obligation) to purchase a specific commodity at a future specified date with a specific rate (price).
Canadian Maple Leafs
Canadian bullion coins produced by the Canadian Royal Mint, being the first .999 fine gold coins released in 1979 to compete with Kruggerands (See South African Kruggerands). Since then, these modern coins have become even finer, being currently offered as .9999 gold bullion coins.
Weight measurement unit used for gems, such as diamonds, and pearls. One carat is equivalent to around 3.086 grains (0.2 grams).
Though usually used in reference to American dollars, it may also refer to any locally circulating currency as well.
A public market setting in which the delivery of commodities or financial instruments and the payment for them must be completed within two working days after the transaction date.
The price quotation in the cash (spot) market.
Coins manufactured from pouring molten precious metal into a cast or mold. This method was used for ancient and numismatic coins.
See Mexican Peso.
The body that is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the nation’s fiscal and monetary policy, as well as for controlling interest rates and money supply. In the US, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors that manages the Federal Reserve System takes on this duty.
The design that’s seen on both sides of any coin.
Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
A small sticker or a seal on a paper which authenticates that the bullion item is legit.
A coin that has been authenticated by a third party professional coin grading service (NGC or PCGS) is usually sold encased and has a much higher premium.
A collector that looks for errors, variations, or other oddities (double dies, die varieties, repunched mint marks) in unattributed lots or coins, that makes them more valuable.
A special mark or character struck on the coin as a certification of its value and fineness, applied by the government or trades.
Chinese gold bullion coins produced for the first time in 1982, being the first ‘premium’ priced coins made of .999 pure gold and featuring a different panda depiction every year. By the late 80s, they became extremely popular collectibles because of their low mintage limits. The silver versions were introduced in 1983.
Coins that have been in public circulation as currency. These coins have a lower condition than brilliant uncirculated or uncirculated coins.
Coins with a copper center and an outer layer made from non-precious metals (copper-nickel) or silver, like the 1965 circulating quarters, dimes and half dollars (40% Kennedy Half Dollars)
The official ending of a trading session.
Any stamped metal piece having a definite fineness and weight produced for commercial use.
Coin of the Realm
Any government-issued coin (legal tender coin) which is meant to be used for public circulation.
A New York-based major commodities futures exchange where one can trade silver and gold. The COMEX is located in NYC and is a division of NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange).
Precious metal medals, medallions, coins or rounds which are issued to honor events, places, persons or themes.
A fee charged by a broker for the rendered services, such as the execution of an order.
A physical product that is commonly traded on the market with a value based on overall market conditions and its industrial and commercial value. Silver, gold, platinum, and palladium metals are all commodities.
A limited partnership (venture) in which different investors contribute funds for buying commodities.
Overall state or quality of a coin, bar or round, commonly expressed as Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof, Circulated, Almost Uncirculated, New.
See Bag Mark.
A normal state of futures markets, when the prices tend to be higher in the future delivery months compared to the nearer ones. The opposite of backwardation.
A tiara or a small crown worn by Liberty in some of the earlier American coins.
A movement in the price of a commodity after a continuous movement in the opposite direction, e.g. when the prices in a market constantly rise and then decline.
To offset a short options or futures position.
A coin that was previously graded but was removed from its case or holder. This is often made to achieve the better grading from another certification service or to clean the coin, but this action may damage it.
A silver dollar sized coin, originally made of gold, that was struck by the UK or the Commonwealth of Nations and became of the most circulated coins in that period.
Copper’s chemical symbol
A coin that has an extremely poor condition – exceedingly damaged or worn.
An exchange when cash, commodity or another delivery tool is tendered and then received by the contract holder.
A bar made out of precious metals, having a specific hallmark, fineness, and weight, that is approved as a tradable unit for any commodity exchange (such as LBMA). To ensure that the bar retains its deliverable status, it has to be handled only by the LBMA-approved agents or companies.
The currency amount of the coin. See Face Value.
A financial tool that derived from a futures contract, a cash market commodity or another financial instrument, e.g. a futures contract is a derivative of a physical commodity, a futures option – derivative of a future contract. It can be traded on regulated exchanges as well as over-the-counter.
The artist who created the design (artwork) of the coin (not the actual die).
Refers to a design that is found on any coin. It is usually the bust of an individual who is a country symbol at a specific point in history. It might also be the country’s insignia.
A piece of metal which is engraved with the coin’s design and used to stamp/impress it onto a metal blank planchet to mint the actual coins.
The line on a coin which was caused by a cracked or broken die.
A defect (abnormality) of a coin caused by a damaged (defect) die.
A small variation occurred on the coin’s original design.
The difficulty or easiness to divide a bullion piece (100 X 1 silver coins are more divisible than a 100 oz. silver bar).
An impure alloy of silver with an appreciable percentage of gold. It was named after the Dore furnace used in mining facilities that produces the alloy.
US twenty-dollar legal tender gold coins issued between 1850 and 1933. The coins were made of pure gold of .9675 troy ounces. Its early versions (1850-1908) carried the St. Gaudens Walking Liberty design while the following coins depicted the Standing Liberty image on the obverse side.
The coin resulted from a double strike through which it has been given two misaligned impressions.
The ability to drastically change shape without breaking, such as the capacity to be drawn into a fine wire or hammered into a thin sheet.
US legal tender gold coin with face value of $10 struck between 1795 and 1933. The coins were made from .4837 ounces of gold. The ‘Eagle’ is also a generic term for the new bullion American Eagle coins.
The third surface on a coin that is neither the front nor the back – the outer side. The edge of a coin might be lettered, plain or reeded.
A metal which consists of a natural gold and silver mixture. This natural alloy may contain copper and other metals, and it’s also called green gold.
The fiscal value of a coin which might not necessarily be at par with the coin's actual worth: e.g. 1 oz. American Eagle has a face value of $50; however, due to its gold content, the intrinsic value is much higher than its denomination.
Paper money that is used as legal tender in a country, though it’s not backed by gold or silver.
The background on the coin’s surface.
A heavily circulated coin which is used to complete a collection due to its numismatic value.
A troy ounce of silver, gold, platinum or palladium with a precious metal content of minimum 99.5% (minimum fineness of .995)
The purity of a gold coin or bullion piece. Pure gold is rated as 24 karats or .999 fine gold.
The purity of a silver coin or bullion piece. Pure silver has a .999 fineness or higher.
The weight of a coin, bar or ingot, which only includes the weight of the precious metal from which is struck. Do not confuse with the gross weight which is the actual weight of the item. E.g. 1 oz. Gold American Eagle has a fine weight of one troy ounce but has a gross weight of 1.0909 troy ounces. The extra weight denotes the other metals that are used to produce the coin.
The purity of a precious metal that is measured in a thousand parts of an alloy: e.g. a gold bar with a .995 fineness means that it has 995 parts gold and the rest parts any other metal.
The common name for iron pyrite, which most novices easily mistake for gold due to its golden color. Though its other physical properties differ from those of gold: while gold is malleable and soft, iron pyrite is brittle and hard.
The sale or purchase for payment and delivery at an agreed future date. Same as a futures contract, only that forward transactions aren't subjected to the procedures of a commodities future exchange.
France’s monetary unit used until 2005 when the Euro replaced it. A common set of French Franc coins were the 20 Franc Gold Rooster coins, struck between 1899 and 1916 from 22 karat gold.
An agreement that involves the organized exchange of a financial instrument or commodity in future, at a specific date.
Refers to a high-quality, uncirculated coin which, if certified, receives a designation of MS 65 or higher.
A highly ductile and malleable precious metal which has a yellow color and is resistant to oxidation. It is considered as a measure of wealth for a long time, being the standard against which worldwide currencies are established. Gold is used for manufacturing coins, bars, jewelry and other industry applications.
The color of gold which can be modified by the addition of various alloys to obtain yellow, white, red, and green colored gold. The commonest metals that are used for alloys include zinc, copper, nickel, and silver. When copper is mixed with gold, it gives it a reddish hue, while silver and zinc tend to make it look greener. Nickel is added to gold to give it a white hue.
See American Eagle.
A process where 24 karat gold is placed onto the surface of another metal through the use of electrolytic methods. Such plating has to be more than seven-millionths of an inch thick.
A gold coating has a thickness of less than 7 millionths of an inch.
Refers to placer or raw gold that has been washed out of its native rock, usually into a river bed where it gets its nugget shape by being beaten by rocks and water around.
See Gold Electroplate.
A term that is used to designate the monetary standard of a particular country where the issued paper money is backed by a sufficient amount of gold reserves.
Ounces of silver that you can buy with an ounce of gold based on current spot prices: e.g. is gold-silver ratio is 60 then with one ounce of gold you can buy 60 ounces of silver.
A process whereby a layer of at least 10 karat gold is mechanically bonded to another (base) metal. In the finished product, usually market with GF, this layer usually makes up at least a twentieth of the weight.
Specifications (e.g. given by the LBMA) that a bar of gold or other precious metal should meet in order to be accepted for delivery at a certain exchange.
Good Delivery Bar
A precious metal bar that conforms to the specification and is acceptable for delivery against a metals contract.
See Certified Coin.
An independent entity that grades bullion or numismatic coins. The graded coins are usually encased in a plastic cover, and this process is called ‘slabbing’. The 2 major grading services in the US are the PCGS and the NGC.
The oldest unit for measuring weight which initially referred to the weight of one wheat grain or barley grain that equates to 0.0648 troy grams. 24 grains are equal to one pennyweight and 480 grains equal to one troy ounce.
The basic unit of weight and mass measurement according to the metric system. One gram is equal to 1/32 of a troy ounce.
The actual weight of a coin, round or bar.
US legal tender gold coins with a five-dollar face value and issued between 1795 and 1929. Each coin contains .24187 ounces of gold and is nearly identical to the 5 cent nickel coin in size.
The stamp on a precious metal surface, which is an indicative of the producer, purity, and weight of the precious metal content, as well as its serial number.
An offsetting transaction (either purchase or sale of an option or future contract) designed to protect from or minimize the impact of unfavorable movements in the assets’ value.
One of the parts of the minting process when the coin’s design is impressed onto a die.
An impression of the coin’s design below the surface considered the opposite of ‘Relief’ – the most common coinage design.
The word has two meanings: monetary inflation when there is an increase in the monetary supply, and price inflation when referring to the higher prices.
The actual value of the bullion’s precious metal content.
A term referring to a coin which has an MS65 grade or higher.
IRA (Individual Retirement Account)
A type of savings account which provides tax advantages for retirement savings in the United States.
- Traditional IRA – contributions are often tax-deductible (money is deposited before tax) and any earnings or transactions have no tax impact while retirement withdrawals are taxed as income (except for nondeductible contributions).
- Roth IRA – contributions are made with after-tax assets or money; any transactions or earnings have no tax impact and retirement withdrawals are usually tax-free.
- Rollover IRA – a traditional IRA with money coming from a qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as 401(k) or 403(b).
Silver product with a purity less than 90% pure silver, usually containing 35%-90% silver: e.g. pre-1965 US Coins.
A measuring unit of gold purity which is used to denote its fineness. The karat scale ranges from 1 to 24, with 24 being the purest. The term ‘karat’ comes from the carob seed that was used to balance the scales when the gold was weighed in ancient Asian bazaars.
A more valuable or scarce coin in a series: e.g. 1996 American Silver Eagle, considered a key date of the series which often sells for two, three times higher than common Silver Eagles.
A bar which weighs one kilogram, or 32.1507 troy ounces.
A thousand grams or 32.1507 troy ounces
Australian bullion coin minted since 1987, available in gold, platinum and silver versions. The design of the Koala changes every year.
London Bullion Market Association.
A coin that has been legally recognized by a government as a measure of payment for debts and a valid currency.
The coin's inscription.
Inscriptions or lettering on the coin’s edge.
A market in which the ability to buy and sell goods and services can be done with relative ease.
The quality of being readily convertible to cash – how easy it is to sell or buy a specific product or bullion: e.g. 1 oz. American Silver Eagle are actively traded – highly liquid.
London Fix Price
A bullion pricing standard which is set every day by the members of the LBMA in London. This price reflects the price at which the orders to buy and sell from the firms’ customers are in perfect balance. This is an international benchmark price for that moment in time and is changed in the morning and afternoon each day, for gold, and at noon, London time, for silver.
A frosty, Proof-like or satiny appearance of a coin’s surface, most of the times an uncirculated coin.
See Canadian Maple Leafs.
The price at which a bullion item or a coin is traded.
A round metal piece that resembles a coin, but has no denomination and isn't legal tender (not a “coin of the realm). It can be issued either by a private mint or a government mint: e.g. Engelhard 1 oz. Silver Prospector Medallion.
See Intrinsic Value.
32,151 troy ounces or one thousand kilograms.
Mexican 50 Peso
A large and stunning gold coin released in 1921 to commemorate a hundred years of Mexico’s independence. Each coin contains 1.2057 ounces of gold and is .900 fine. Most of the Mexican 50 Peso coins in the market are restrikes issued after 1943.
The facility in which bars or coins are produced.
A defect or mistake which occurs during the process of minting.
A symbol or letter stamped on the coin or bar that identifies the minting facility that produced it.
A coin that is in uncirculated condition.
New (nonhistorical) coin issues, whether struck for sale to collectors and investors or circulation.
An order for settlement of a specific sum of money issued and payable by a post office or bank.
The lowest grade of Uncirculated or Mint State coins, according to the Sheldon Grading Scale. This grading system certifies the coins with grades from 1 up to 70 (70 denotes a perfect uncirculated coin). Coins graded MS60 or higher are uncirculated while below MS60 - are circulated.
An error which happens when the coin is struck by using 2 dies that were not intended to be used together.
National Futures Association (NFA)
An association which disseminates the rules of conduct in the futures industry, also responsible for mediation of disputes between brokers and their customers.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (of America). One of the two major grading services in the US.
Modern platinum bullion coins issued by the Isle of Man from the year of 1983 onwards.
Nominal Face Value
The nominal value that is given to a legal tender coin sold for its metal content: e.g. 1 oz. Gold Eagle has a $50 face value, yet sells for its nominal value (value of gold content) plus a premium that is about 5-8%.
See Australian Kangaroo.
Coins with price determined by their rarity, dates, condition, and mint marks and not by their precious metal content if any.
Study or collection of coins, metallic art and other forms of currency.
Coin collector or expert.
The New York Mercantile Exchange - a futures exchange for trading platinum and palladium.
The coin’s front part, usually comprising a head or face image, or an image of one or more people.
Action to sell at a specific price. It is the opposite of the bid and is also known as the ask. The offer price refers to the money amount in which a dealer offers to sell the commodity.
The right (not obligation) to sell or buy a commodity or security at a particular date in the future at a fixed price.
Superimposed new date on a previously dated die.
A coin that is struck twice, the second time with a different die.
A unit of measurement for weight. In the field of precious metals, one troy ounce is equivalent to 31.1035 gms.
A rare precious metal of the platinum group having a silver-white color. Chemically similar to platinum, palladium is also extracted from some nickel and copper ores, being mainly used in jewelry and as an industrial catalyst.
See Chinese Panda.
A tarnish that is formed on the surface of copper or bronze.
A trial coin that has never been issued for circulation.
Professional Coin Grading Service. One of the two main grading services in the US.
Palladium's chemical symbol.
A British unit for weighing gold, established during the Middle Ages, being equivalent to 24 grains (1/20 of a troy ounce).
A marketplace where physical products are traded. This is opposite of the futures market, where the physical transfer of goods might not happen because only contracts are traded.
See Blank Planchet.
The ability to be shaped without breaking.
A rare gray-white heavy metal which is ductile, malleable, and displays resistance to corrosion. It is mainly used to make jewelry, electrical contacts, lab equipment, and bullion, as well as in dentistry and car emission devices.
A rare metal with the high economic value
The additional cost for which a coin or bullion sells over its bullion value, usually seen as the difference between the ‘Ask’ and ‘Bid’ Price. It represents the cost of distribution, fabrication, and a dealer fee. Rare coins usually carry the highest premium due to their scarcity or demand.
A method of manufacturing coins under high pressure by using highly polished dies, which gives them a shinier, sharper, mirror-like look. These coins usually have a higher premium than brilliant uncirculated coins and are struck for collectors.
Platinum’s chemical symbol.
The percentage of precious metal contained in a certain bullion piece. See Fineness also.
An option which gives the owner the right to sell a financial security or commodity at a specific date in the future and at a predetermined price.
US $2.50 face value gold coins. They were used as legal tender between 1795 and 1929.
An advancing movement in price following a decline in the market.
A coin that didn’t receive a grading from the independent grading services. Uncertified coins.
Vertical grooves on the edge of the coin.
A process of separating and purifying precious metals to increase their purity and grade.
Common coin design when the actual design is slightly raised from the coin’s surface.
The coin’s raised edge that protects the artwork (design) of the coin.
New coins made from old dies (usually of circulating coins), also referred as ‘new mintings’ or ‘reproductions’. Since the original coins look exactly as new coins, they lose their numismatic value.
The opposite of obverse – the back side of a coin, usually consisting of a country’s coat of arms or insignia and the coin’s face value.
A non-government issued bullion piece or medal.
A soft white transition metal that has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity among other metals. It’s extensively used to make jewels, tableware, and bullion. Silver is chemically active and naturally tones if exposed to air and certain elements.
The plastic holder used by the international grading services to present their certifications and preserve the coins’ condition.
Coins encased in plastic holders to protect them from wear. Generally graded by the PCSG or the NGC.
The extraction of precious metals from ores or rock samples by heating, melting and using a chemical reducing agent to obtain the metal base.
A term used to describe gold jewelry. It is usually applied to jewelry that has more than 10 karats of gold.
South African Kruggerand
The world’s first gold coins struck as bullion items, introduced in 1967. Krugerrands dominated the world’s bullion market up until the early 80s, being the only available gold bullion coins at the time but very hard to own due to political factors. Each has 22 karats of gold.
The live price (market value at a given point of time) of a precious metal determined by the latest trades on over-the-counter and futures market.
Spot Gold Price
The gold price in an unfabricated form, which is constantly fluctuating.
See Cash Market.
The sale of an asset for future delivery without possessing it.
The difference between the selling price and the buying price of a commodity or other trading unit.
Silver that features a .925 fineness.
Symbolic Face Value
See Face Value.
A weighing unit used in India for measuring gold bars. One tola is equal to 180 grains, 11.7 grams or 0.375 troy ounces.
A crown sized or silver dollar specifically issued for trading with another country.
A weighing unit used in India for measuring gold bars. One tola is equal to 180 grains.
A weight unit that equates to 1.09711 oz. 1 troy ounce is a common standard of measurement for precious metals and a standard for pricing and trading bullion. One troy ounce is equivalent to 31.1035 grams, 490 grains or 1.09711 avoirdupois ounces.
Happens when the precious metal depositories store together all similar types of precious metal items without respect for each owner. The owner holds only the account balance reflected in ounces.
An unused or new coin. This term is interchangeable with the term ‘Mint State’ and ‘Brilliant Uncirculated’.
A coin with unique characteristics which sets it apart from the coins of the same type.
Gold plating on another type of metal (usually silver).
Mintmark of the US Mint West Point facility.
The actual bullion weight.
Gold alloys that contain at least one white metal: nickel, silver or palladium, usually used for diamond jewelry.
Extremely Fine grade. All coin’s elements are sharp and well defined.
Year of mintage
The year when the coin was minted/stamped.
A measurement of the ROI for a year expressed as a percentage.