Glossary of Terms



Avoirdupois (AVDP):
The system of weights and measures most commonly used in the United States and Great Britain in which 16 avdp ounces equals 1 pound. It is used for most solid objects, but not for Precious Metals and gems. One avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 grams or 437.50 grains.
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 pure Gold that exists in an object when all other metals have been extracted. Abbreviated as AGW.
The chemical symbol for silver.
A mixture of two or more metals. Metals such as Silver, nickel, copper and zinc are frequently mixed with Gold to improve its hardness and durability, making it more resistant to nicks and scratches.
American Eagle (Gold Or Silver):
Bullion products struck by the U.S. Mint. Since their debut in 1986, these coins have become America's most popular bullion coins, as well as being instantly recognizable and accepted worldwide. Although these coins have legal tender status, the intrinsic bullion value far exceeds the face value of these coins. American Gold Eagles are struck in a traditional coinage alloy of 91.7 percent pure 22 karat Gold; each coin contains a full measure of pure Gold, alloyed with Silver and Copper. They are available in 1 oz ($50 face value), 1/2 oz ($25 face value), 1/4 oz ($10 face value) and 1/10 oz ($5 face value) sizes. American Silver Eagles are the official Silver bullion coin of the United States. These 1 troy oz Silver bullion coins each bear a nominal $1 face value, and each is struck in .999 fine Silver. Both the American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins are guaranteed by the United States government to have the correct weight and purity.
Simultaneously buying and selling a commodity in different markets to take advantage of price and/or premium differentials.
Latin for silver.
The price at which a dealer offers to sell.
A test to ascertain the fineness and weight of a Precious Metal item.
The chemical symbol for Gold, which is derived from "aurum", the Latin word for Gold.
Latin for gold.
Australian Kangaroo:
Australia's Gold Nugget bullion coins (now Kangaroos) were introduced in 1986 as.9999 fine ("four nines," or 99.99 percent pure Gold) bullion coins. Each year since 1989, the design has changed, all featuring various depictions of kangaroos. Coins are shipped individually encapsulated in square plastic case.
Australian Koala:
Australian bullion coin which has been minted since 1987. It has been minted in Gold, Silver and Platinum, and its design changes each year.
Austrian 100 Corona:
Late 20th century restrike of a popular 19th century bullion Gold coin. Each coin contains .9802 oz actual Gold weight.
Austrian Philmonic (Gold Or Silver):
Austria's .9999 Gold Philharmonic bullion coins were first minted in 1989 and quickly became Europe's most popular Gold bullion coin. Silver Philharmonic coins were first issued in 2008 and are .999 fine Silver. On the obverse is the Great Organ in Vienna's Concert Hall. The reverse depicts a harmonious design of musical instruments from the Austrian Philharmonic Orchestra.


A market condition in which current spot price is higher than the forward price (or future contract price). Backwardation is commonly seen with supply shortages or disruptions.
Base Metal:
Also known as pot metal; a mixture of non-Precious Metals. It is frequently used as a base for Gold-filled, Gold-plated or rolled Gold plate coverings.
Bear Market:
Describes investment markets, such as stock markets or metals markets, in which prices are or are soon expected to be in decline. The opposite of a bear market is a bull market.
The price at which a dealer is willing to buy.
Blank Planchet:
A metal disc made for coinage or bullion items, which has not yet been struck with an obverse, reverse or edge design.
British Sovereign:
British Gold sovereigns have been struck periodically since 1489. For centuries, this .2354 troy oz coin was the measure by which all other Gold coins were judged. Each coin is 91.7 percent pure (22 karat). Sovereigns have been produced by various mints in the British Empire including London, Ottawa, Bombay, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
Brilliant Uncirculated; 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.
Bull Market:
Describes investment markets, such as stock markets or metals markets in which prices are or are soon expected to be on the rise. The opposite of a bull market is a bear market.
1. Gold, Silver, Platinum or Palladium coins which closely follow spot prices and have little or no numismatic value (such as restrikes and modern sovereign mint bullion coins). 2. The form in which metal is shaped, such as bars, ingots or wafers. The most commonly traded Gold bullion pieces among individual investors in the United States weigh 10 ounces or less.
Bullion Coin:
A Precious Metal coin whose market value is determined by its intrinsic Precious Metal content. They are bought and sold mainly for investment purposes. They may be produced by a sovereign mint with a denominated face value but will be considered as bullion because they trade at a price relative to its intrinsic value.
Bullion Precious Metals:
Includes Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium. These metals are traded based on their intrinsic metal value and typically are delivered in a specific trading shape, such as a wafer, bar, ingot, round or coin.
Business Strike:
The method of manufacture used by the mint to strike coins for everyday use. This differs from the Proof method of manufacturing, which is used to strike coins for collectors.
The head, neck, shoulders and upper chest of a person’s image, often depicted on the obverse (front) of a coin.


The right, but not an obligation, to buy a commodity or a financial security on a specified future date at a specified price.
Canadian Maple Leaf (Gold Or Silver):
Modern bullion coins struck by the Royal Canadian Mint. Canada's Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins were the first .999 fine Gold bullion coins (as opposed to a bar or ingot) when they were released in 1979. They were designed to be the main competitor of the South African Krugerrand, which was the only Gold bullion coin available at that time. Since 1982, they have been struck to an even finer purity of .9999 ("four nines," or 99.99 percent pure Gold). Canada’s Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins were first issued in 1988. At .9999 fine, these coins boast the highest purity of any sovereign mint Silver bullion coin.
A measurement of weight generally used in reference to gems, especially diamonds. It is equal to about 3.086 grains or 0.2 grams. It is not to be confused with karat, which is a measurement of the fineness of Gold.
Typically refers to American dollars, though may refer to any locally available commonly circulating currency, usually made of paper.
Cash Market:
A market in which delivery and payment have to be made within two working days of the transaction date.
See Mexican Peso.
Central Bank:
The entity responsible for establishing a nation's monetary and fiscal policy, and controlling the money supply and interest rates. In the United States, the Federal Reserve System, which is managed by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, fulfills the role of the central bank.
Central Device:
The main design found on either side of a coin.
Chinese Lunar Calendar:
Each year, mints around the world produce Gold and Silver products inspired by the animals of the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. Starting with the Rat (followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig), each animal comes around once every 12 years. According to Chinese tradition, the animal corresponding with your birth year represents how others perceive you or how you present yourself.
Chinese Panda (Gold Or Silver):
China began striking Gold bullion coins in 1982. The Pandas were the first high-premium .999 bullion coin, featuring a different panda portrait almost every year. They became hugely popular as collectibles by the late 1980s, due to their low mintage figures. Silver Pandas were first issued in 1983 and are also popular among collectors for their .999 fine purity and changing designs. Each coin is individually sealed in a plastic pouch at the China Mint.
The official end of a trading session.
Coin Of The Realm:
A legal tender coin issued by a government and meant for general circulation.
A stamped piece of metal of a known weight and fineness issued for commerce.
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 of Gold or Silver, struck to honor themes, events, places or people.
The fee charged by a broker for the execution of an order.
Commodity Pool:
A venture, usually a limited partnership, in which investors contribute funds for the purpose of buying commodities.
Contango Market:
A normal futures market in which prices are higher in the succeeding delivery months than they are in the nearest delivery month. It is the opposite of backwardation.
A small crown or tiara worn by Liberty in some of the early American coins.
A movement in the price of something after a sustained movement in an opposite direction. For example, a decline in prices following a rise in a market would constitute a correction.
to offset a short futures or options position.
The metallurgical symbol for copper.


Deliverable Bar:
A Precious Metal bar with a weight, fineness and hallmark approved as a tradeable unit on a commodity exchange, such as the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). To retain its status as a deliverable bar, the bar must only be handled by LBMA-approved companies or agents.
The exchange by which an underlying commodity, cash or other delivery instrument is tendered and received by the contract holder.
A financial instrument derived from a cash market commodity, futures contract or other financial instrument. Derivatives can be traded on regulated exchanges or over the counter. Futures contracts, for example, are derivatives of physical commodities, and options on futures are derivatives of futures contracts.
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.
An engraved metal object used to strike or stamp the design of a coin into a blank metal planchet.
Dore Bullion:
An impure alloy of Silver or Gold named for the Dore furnace used at mining facilities that produces it.
Double Eagle:
United States $20 Gold coins used as legal tender between 1850 and 1933. Double Eagles contain .9675 troy oz of pure Gold. Early $20 coins had the portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse. From 1908 to 1933, they had Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Standing Liberty design. This design was appropriated, with modifications, for the various sizes of the modern Gold American Eagle bullion coins.


United States $10 face value Gold coins used as legal tender between 1795 and 1933. Each contains .4837 oz actual Gold weight. Eagle is also the generic term for the modern Gold and Silver bullion coins issued by the U.S. Mint since 1986.
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. For example, the face value of a 1 oz Gold American Eagle coin is $50, but its actual worth is tied to the spot value of its Gold content — a much higher value.
Fiat Money:
Paper money made legal tender by law, although not backed by Gold or Silver.
The open area or background on a coin.
Fine Gold:
The purity or fineness of a Gold coin or Gold bullion item. Pure Gold is 24 karat, or .999 fine, Gold.
Fine Silver:
The purity or fineness of a Silver coin or Silver bullion item. Pure Silver is 99.9 percent or greater in purity.
Fine Weight:
The metallic weight of a coin, ingot or bar, as opposed to the item's gross weight, which includes the weight of the alloying metal. Example: a 1 oz Gold American Eagle has a fine weight of 1 troy oz, but the same coin has a gross weight of 1.0909 troy oz.
The purity of a Precious Metal measured in 1,000 parts: A Gold bar of .995 fineness contains 995 parts Gold and 5 parts of another metal. The American Gold Eagle is .9167 fine, which means it is 91.67 percent Gold. An American Silver Eagle has a fineness of .999, meaning that it is 99.9 percent pure.
Fool’s 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.
Forward Transaction:
Purchase or sale for delivery and payment at an agreed date in the future; similar to a futures contract, except that forward transactions are not subject to the standardized procedures and regulations of a commodities futures exchange.
French Franc:
A French franc was that nation's monetary unit prior to 2005, when it was replaced by the euro. One of the most common coins denominated in francs was the French 20 franc Gold Rooster coins, which were struck from 1899 to 1916. Each of these coins is 91.7 percent pure (22 karat) and contains .1867 troy oz actual Gold weight.
Futures Contract:
An agreement made on an organized exchange to take or make delivery of a specific commodity or financial instrument at a set date in the future.


A precious yellow metallic element that is resistant to oxidation and is highly ductile and malleable. Gold has long been used as a store of wealth and a standard for currencies worldwide. For centuries, Gold has been used in coinage, jewelry and in countless industrial applications.
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 Eagle:
See American Eagle (Gold or Silver).
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 Flashed:
A Gold coating which is less than seven millionths of an inch thick. It is sometimes called Gold washed.
Gold Nugget:
This describes raw or 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 Gold electroplating.
Gold Standard:
The term to designate the monetary standard of a country when all the paper money it issues is backed by a sufficient amount of a reserve holdings of Gold coins or bars.
Gold/Silver Ratio:
The number of ounces of Silver required to buy one ounce of Gold at current spot prices.
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.
Grading Service:
An independent company that grades numismatic or bullion 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.
The earliest known unit of weight, it 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 oz, and 437.5 grains in an avoirdupois ounce.
The basic unit of weight of the metric system A metric unit of mass and weight. A gram equals approximately 1/32 Troy oz. and is used in Troy weight as a measure of gold. (31.1035 grams = one troy ounce.)


Half Eagle:
United States $5 face value Gold coins used as legal tender and issued from 1795 to 1929. They each contain .24187 oz actual Gold weight and are almost identical in size to the nickel 5 cent coin.
A stamped impression on the surface of a Precious Metal bar that indicates the producer, serial number, weight and/or purity of metal content.
An offsetting transaction, such as the purchase or sale of a futures contract/option, designed to lessen the effect of adverse movements in the value of assets.


Intrinsic Value:
The actual value of the Precious Metals contained within a bullion bar or coin.
Inverted Market:
See Backwardation.


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.
Kilo Bar:
A bar weighing one kilogram (32.1507 troy oz).
1,000 grams (32.1507 troy oz).
See South African Krugerrand.


Legal Tender:
Coin or currency identified by a government to be acceptable in the discharge of debts.
The inscription on a coin.
Liquid Market:
A market characterized by the ability to buy and sell with relative ease.
The quality of being readily convertible into cash.
London Fix Price:
This bullion pricing standard is set each day in London by the members of the London Bullion Market Association. The "fixing price" reflects the price at which buy and sell orders from the firms' customers are in balance. The London Fix is an internationally recognized benchmark price for that particular moment in time. There is a morning (a.m.) price fix as well as an afternoon (p.m.) price fix.
Low-ball Registry:
A subtype of Registry Set collecting where the lowest-graded coins are favored, rather the highest-graded coins. Far from being trivial, coins are often scarce in the very lowest grades, as coins must be free of any problems such as cleaning, scratches, or rim dings to be eligible for a grade, and the date and mintmark must be able to be determined by a skilled numismatist - even if illegible. Non-circulating types such as commemoratives and Gold and Silver Eagles are usually of interest to low-ball collectors in grades XF and below. Circulating coins such as Morgan Dollars are usually of interest in grades Poor-1, Fair-2, and Almost Good-3, depending on the series.
The appearance of a coin’s surface, either satiny, frosty or Prooflike.


Maple Leafs:
See Canadian Maple Leaf (Gold or Silver).
Market Value:
The price at which a coin or bullion item 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. The Engelhard 1 oz Silver Prospector round is a privately minted medallion.
Metric Ton:
1,000 kilograms or 32,151 troy oz.
Mexican 50 Peso:
A large and beautiful Gold coin first issued in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mexico's independence. The Mexican 50 Peso coins in the bullion coin market normally are restrikes, minted from 1943 onward. Each coin contains 1.2057 oz actual Gold weight and is .900 fine.
The facility where a coin or bar was manufactured.


National Futures Association (NFA):
Futures industry trade association which promulgates rules of conduct and mediates disputes between customers and brokers.
Acronym for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, one of two major coin grading services in the United States.
Modern Platinum bullion coins that have been issued by the Isle of Man since 1983.
Nominal Face Value:
Nominal value given to legal tender coins sold for their metal content. Example: The 1 oz Gold Eagle carries a $50 face value but sells for its nominal value, which includes its Gold content plus a premium of 5 to 8 percent.
See Australian Kangaroo.
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 study of coins, currency and metallic art.
Coin collector or expert.
The New York Mercantile Exchange, a futures exchange where Platinum and Palladium are traded.


The front of a coin. The device on the obverse usually consists of the image of one or more people or which contains the principal design of the coin.
A motion to sell a commodity at a specified price. It is the same as the ask. It is the opposite of the bid. The offer price is the price at which a dealer offers to sell a commodity.
The right, but not an obligation, to buy or sell a commodity or a financial security on a specified date in the future at a specific price.
A unit of weight. In the Precious Metals industry, an ounce means a troy ounce equal to 31.1035 grams.


A rare Silver-white metal of the Platinum group. Palladium resembles Platinum chemically and is extracted from some copper and nickel ores. It is primarily used as an industrial catalyst and in jewelry.
See Chinese Panda (Gold or Silver).
Acronym for Professional Coin Grading Service, one of the two major coin grading services in the United States.
The chemical symbol for Palladium.
An American unit of weight for Gold in which one pennyweight equals 24 grains or 1/20 of a troy oz.
See Austrian Philharmonic (Gold or Silver).
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.
A blank piece of metal that is struck or pressed to produce a coin or medallion.
An ability to change shape drastically without breaking. The capacity of a metal to be hammered into a thin sheet is called malleability. The capacity of a metal to be drawn into a fine wire is called ductility.
A chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. A heavy, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal, Platinum is resistant to corrosion and occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits. Platinum is used in jewelry, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry and automobile emissions control devices. Platinum coins and bars are now very popular investments.
Platinum American Eagle:
These are modern Platinum bullion coins minted by the U.S. Mint. These coins were first released in 1997; they are made of .9995 Platinum and were struck in 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz sizes.
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.
The chemical symbol for Platinum.
An option that gives the owner the right to sell a commodity or a financial security on a specified date in the future, at a specified price. and intangible factors.


Quarter Eagle:
United States $2.50 face value Gold coins, issued as legal tender between 1795 and 1929. These dime-size coins contain .121 oz actual Gold weight.


An upward price movement following a decline in a market.
Registry Sets:
A form of coin collecting in which collectors compete with one another to acquire the highest-quality sets of a type of coin. Both PCGS and NGC maintain registries where collectors can register the graded coins in their collection. Each coin is assigned a point value based on grade and rarity, and collections are ranked by score. Coins at the very highest grades have become fiercely sought after as registry set collecting has become more popular, especially where populations in the top grade are very low. Coins which are of particular interest to those looking to build or improve a Registry Set collection are denoted with “Registry Set” in their title on the APMEX website.
New coins made from old dies, which is why they are referred to as "new minting." Restrikes generally have the same specifications as the original coins that they copy - this includes the same dates, composition and dimensions. Restrike coins are officially produced by a government mint and they are usually not legal tender. Government mints pick one date as the "restrike date" for a particular coin. For instance, the restrike date for the Austrian 100 Corona is 1915. Restrikes are considered bullion coins because such a large number are 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 apart from the restrikes.
The back of a coin. The device on the reverse of a coin usually consists of a country's coat of arms or an insignia.


Short Sale:
The sale of an asset for future delivery without possession of the asset sold.
A chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Ag (from the traditional abbreviation for the Latin “argentum”) and atomic number 47. A soft-white lustrous transition metal, Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal and occurs both in minerals and in free form. This metal is extensively used in coins, jewelry, tableware and photography. It is a chemically active metal and naturally changes color or tones when exposed to air and certain elements.
Silver American Eagle:
See American Eagle (Gold or Silver).
Slabbed Coins:
Coins encapsulated in plastic for protection against wear. Generally, slabbed coins are graded by one of the two major independent grading services: PCGS or NGC.
Solid Gold:
Solid Gold is a term often used to describe Gold jewelry. Although the Federal Trade Commission rules do not state what constitutes something that is "solid Gold," it is generally applied to jewelry items which are not hollow and contain at least 10 karat or finer Gold.
South African Krugerrand:
South African Gold Krugerrand coins were the world's first coins struck solely as bullion items. They were introduced in 1967 and dominated the Gold bullion market through the early 1980s. They are struck in 22 karat Gold (91.7 percent pure), each coin containing a full measure of pure Gold, plus additional copper as an alloy.
See British Sovereign.
Describes a one-time open market cash transaction price of a commodity, where it is purchased "on the spot" at current market rates.
Spot Gold Price:
The constantly fluctuating price of Gold in unfabricated form. The closing spot price varies with markets located in numerous cities and countries throughout the world. It is recommended that one follow the spot Gold close from one particular source in order to consistently gauge the fluctuations in the world markets. Commonly quoted Gold markets, or market makers, include New York City, Chicago, Handy and Harmon, Engelhard, Republic National Bank, London, Zurich, Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong. Note that when buying Gold in the United States, the price will generally be based on the prices in New York or Chicago.
Spot Market:
A market in which delivery and payment have to be made within two working days of the transaction date.
The difference between the buying price and the selling price of a security or commodity at the same time on the same day by the same person. If Gold is purchased at $1,650 per ounce and sold at $1,640, the spread is $10.
Sterling Silver:
Silver of a fineness of 92.5 percent purity.
Symbolic Face Value:
Nominal value given to legal tender coins, which are valued or sold for their metal content. The symbolic face value of a coin will be less than its actual market price. For example: The 1 oz Gold American Eagle bullion coin carries a $50 face value but sells for the value of its Gold content plus a premium of 5 to 8 percent.


Tola Bar:
Gold bars measured in tolas, an Indian unit of weight. Although manufactured in Europe, tola bars are traded primarily in the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Singapore. 1 tola is equal to 180 grains or 0.375 troy oz (11.7 grams).
Troy Ounces:
A unit of weight equal to 1.09711 ordinary or avoirdupois ounces. The word ounce, when applied to Gold, always refers to troy ounces. A troy ounce is different from the ounce most Americans are accustomed to (the avoirdupois ounce). There are 12 troy ounces in a troy pound. So, if you buy 1 pound or 12 troy oz of Gold, don't expect it to weigh in at one pound on your bathroom scale. One troy ounce equals 31.1035 grams or 480 grains.


A coin in new or unused condition, sometimes said to be Brilliant Uncirculated or BU. The term is often used interchangeably with Mint State.


Gold plating on another metal, usually Silver.


A measure of the annual return on an investment expressed as a percentage.


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