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Terminology

Actual Gold Weight (AGW) – the gross weight of the metal multiplied by its fineness (expressed in troy ounces)

Coin – piece of metal struck by or on behalf of a government and has a legal tender value assigned by the government

Troy Ounce (oz, ozt, toz) – the standard unit of measurement in the precious metals industry; equivalent to 31.1033 grams. This is as opposed to Avoirdupois Ounce, approximately 28.4 grams. With precious metals, when discussing “ounces,” that they are “troy ounces” is assumed.

Troy Pound (lb, troy lb) – 12 troy ounces

Spot Price – The price at which a commodity can be purchased or sold for in financial markets. Various forms of gold, silver, and platinum pieces trade at different premiums to or discounts from the spot price.

Cameo – the contrast between frosty white devices and mirrored fields on proof coins. Most modern proof coins are struck with cameo. Older proof coins with cameo finish can command a premium.

Devices – the design elements of a piece of metal… Lady Liberty and a heraldic eagle are the devices on the silver eagle coin.

Field – the background of a coin or piece of metal; typically flat, surrounding the devices.

Fineness – the percentage of a precious metal found in a piece of metal

Grade – the condition of a coin (see quick references page)

Melt (melt value) – the actual precious metal weight multiplied by the spot price of that metal. Mention of melt value does not imply that a piece would get melted, it’s simply a reference price. For example, a Krugerrand contains 1 oz actual gold weight, so it’s melt value is simply the spot price of gold. A gold Sovereign contains .2354 oz actual gold weight, so it’s melt value is .2354 x gold spot.

Planchet – a blank piece of metal formed in it’s final shape, but before being struck with a design by a mint

Premium – with bullion, the premium is the amount over the underlying metal value. Premiums are usually quoted in dollars over spot per ounce or as a percentage over the melt value. Premium can also be used to refer to the additional value a particular piece has over more common varieties of the same type of coin.

Strike – the method of taking a blank metal round and forming it into a recognizable, marked piece. Strikes for bullion metals are typically business strikes, which usually involve dies striking each side of a planchet once. Proof strikes are typically made for special lower mintage collectors coins, and they usually come with a mirrored fields; almost all modern proofs come with cameo contrast.

 

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