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.


The price at which a dealer offers to sell.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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

Intrinsic Value:

The value of a coin's metal content.


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.


Inscription on a coin.


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


Frosty appearance on the surface of usually an uncirculated coin.

Market Value:

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


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".


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.


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.


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


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.


Pattern coins are prototypes that are produced for various reasons, most often for testing out how a new coin design will look.


Piedfort coins are unusually thick coins. They are often exactly twice as thick as regular coins.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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