Glossary

Actual Gold Content:

The amount of pure gold that is contained in a gold bullion product when all other metals have been extracted. also referred to as actual gold weight.

Ask:

The price at which a dealer offers to sell.

Assay:

A test to ascertain the fineness and weight of a precious metal item. An assay is a certificate or encasing that guarantees the purity and authenticity of the accompanying gold piece. Assays typically include a serial number, which will match the serial number imprinted on the bar. Assays will also include a signature by the official assayer of the piece.

Bid:

The price at which a dealer is willing to buy.

Brilliant Uncirculated (BU):

used to describe a coin in new condition. It is for a coin that has no wear and shows original luster, but it may have light handling marks or other imperfections.

Bullion Coin:

A precious metal coin whose market value is determined by its intrinsic precious metal content. Bullion coins are bought and sold mainly for investment purposes. They may be produced by a sovereign (government) mint with a denominated face value but will be considered as bullion because they trade at a price relative to its intrinsic value (slightly above the spot price of the precious metal).

Carat:

A measurement of weight generally used in reference to gems, especially diamonds. It is equal to about 0.2 grams. It is not to be confused with karat, which is a measurement of the fineness of gold.

Central Bank:

The entity responsible for establishing a nation's monetary and fiscal policy, and controlling the money supply and interest rates.

Comex:

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

Commemoratives:

Legal tender coins or medallions, usually minted out of gold or silver, struck to honor themes, events, places or people.

Device:

A design found on a coin such as the bust or profile of a person or a country's coat of arms.

Die:

An engraved metal object used to strike or stamp the design of a coin into a blank metal planchet.

Edge:

The third surface of a coin, not the obverse or the reverse. The edge of a coin may be reeded, lettered or plain.

Face Value:

The monetary value of an investment coin, which does not necessarily correspond to its actual worth.

Fine Weight:

The weight of the precious metal within a coin, round or bar as opposed to the item's gross weight, which includes the weight of the alloying metal.

Fineness:

The purity of a precious metal.

Gold Color:

Alloys create the different colors of gold such as green (alloyed with Silver or Zinc), red (alloyed with Copper) and white (alloyed with Nickel). Pure gold appears yellow.

Gold Standard:

A monetary system where paper money is backed and interchangeable with gold.

Good Delivery:

The specifications that precious metal bars must meet so as to be acceptable for delivery at a particular exchange.

Grading Service:

An independent company that grades numismatic or bullion coins. The PCGS and the NGC are the two dominant grading services in the United States.

Hallmark:

Mark or stamp on precious metal bullion that identifies the producer.

Intrinsic Value:

The value of a coin's metal content.

Karat:

Measurement of purity used in showing the fineness of gold, scaled 1 to 24. One karat is 1/24 pure gold. 24 karat is pure gold.

Legal Tender:

Currency in specified denominations which creditors are forced by law to accept as payment of a debt.

Legend:

Inscription on a coin.

Liquidity:

Convertibility of for example precious metal bars or coins into cash.

Luster:

Frosty appearance on the surface of usually an uncirculated coin.

Market Value:

The price at which a precious metal coin or bar trades.

Medallion:

A round piece of metal resembling a coin that bears no denomination and is not recognized as legal tender. A medallion may be issued by a government or private mint. also referred to as a "round".

Mint:

The government or private facility where a precious metal coin or bar was manufactured.

Mint Mark:

A letter or symbol stamped on a coin that identifies the minting facility where it was produced.

NGC:

Acronym for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, one of two major coin grading services in the United States.

Numismatic Coins:

Coins whose prices depend more on their rarity, condition, dates and mint marks than on their gold or silver content, if any.

NYMEX:

The New York Mercantile Exchange, a futures exchange where precious metals are traded.

Obverse:

The front of a coin. The obverse usually consists of the image of one or more people or which contains the principal design of the coin.

Ounce (oz):

A unit of weight. In the precious metals industry, an ounce means a troy ounce equal to 31.1035 grams.

Planchet:

Blank and round piece of metal used for stamping a coin or medallion.

PCGS:

Acronym for Professional Coin Grading Service, one of the two major coin grading services in the United States.

Premium:

The additional cost of a coin or bullion item, over and above the spot price of the precious metal contained in the coin. The premium includes the costs of fabrication, distribution and a minimal dealer fee. Rare coins carry an additional premium representing numismatic value, which is based on scarcity, quality, demand and intangible factors.

Proof:

Refers to the manner in which a coin was minted and not to its condition. Highly polished dies and special planchets are used to produce coins with a mirrorlike finish. A proof strike is very different from a business strike, and proof coins are generally made for collectors, not for normal use.

Restrike:

Reproduction of a formerly circulating coin by a government mint with the same specifications as the original (same dates, composition, dimensions).

Reverse:

The back of a coin. The reverse of a coin usually consists of a country's coat of arms or an insignia.

Spot Price:

The current market price of gold when purchased "on the spot" at a commodity market, for example COMEX/NYMEX.

Troy Ounces:

The word ounce, when applied to gold, always refers to troy ounces. One troy ounce equals 31.1035 grams.

Uncirculated:

A coin in new or unused condition, sometimes said to be Brilliant Uncirculated or BU.