Below are definitions of some of the most commonly used terms in the precious metal investing world. Make sure to also view our precious metals price charts.
Assay – A test to determine the quality and purity of a gold or silver product. When a gold or silver product ships with an “assay”, this is a guarantee from the assayer that the product in question does indeed contain the described amount and purity of gold or silver.
Brilliant Uncirculated – A coin that has never been in circulation, and is in shiny, new, and immaculate condition.
Buy/Sell Spreads – The difference between a precious metals trader’s buying prices and selling prices, relative to the spot price of the metal they are trading. Ideally, buy/sell spreads are kept as low as possible.
Circulated – Coins that have been distributed to the public as currency. Usually in much worse condition than uncirculated coins.
Commodity – A physical product which is commonly traded and holds value based on the product’s industrial and commercial value.
Condition – The condition of a gold or silver bar, round, or coin. Common conditions are “New”, “Varied”, “Brilliant Uncirculated”, “Proof”, “Circulated”, etc.
Divisibility – How easy it is to piece out and distribute a fixed weight of a certain product. Ex: Ten 1 Ounce Silver Bars are more divisible than One 10 Ounce Silver Bar.
Gold-Silver Ratio – The amount of silver you can buy with one ounce of gold, based on present spot prices. Ex: a gold-silver ratio of 50 means that one ounce of gold would buy fifty ounces of silver at present prices. View our gold prices and silver prices for more info.
Junk Silver – Any silver product that contains less than 90% silver content. Junk silver products usually contain between 35% and 90% silver. Ex: pre-1965 US coins.
Legal Tender – Coins that can be used as national currency. Ex: The 1 Ounce American Gold Eagle has legal tender of $50 USD.
Liquidity – The ease of buying and selling a certain product or metal. Ex: 1 Ounce Silver Bars are extremely liquid, as there is a huge active base of both buyers and sellers.
Mint – The refining or fabricating company which created a certain bar, round, or coin. Ex: Golden State Mint.
Obverse – The “front” side of a coin, usually bearing a head or face design.
Paper Precious Metals – Any precious metal investment that doesn’t result in the investor holding gold or silver in hand. Ex: precious metal ETFs, precious metal certificates, etc.
Proof – A coin that has been struck with greater pressure than normal using special dies to make the design more highly polished. Proof coins are collectibles and trade at a higher premium than brilliant uncirculated or circulated versions of the same coin.
Purity – The gold or silver content contained within a bar, round, or coin. Usually displayed as .XXX. Ex – .999 1 Ounce Silver Bars, indicating 99.9% purity.
Reverse – The “back” side of a coin, with an alternate design usually displaying the coin’s purity and face value.
Spot Price – The live, up-to-date price of gold or silver. Determined by the latest trades on the futures market, as well as over-the-counter markets. View our Silver Spot Price Chart, as well as our Gold Spot Price Chart.
Weight – The stamped weight of a bar, round, or coin. Ex: 1 Ounce Silver Bars.
Year – The year of issue for a gold or silver coin. Ex: 2012 Silver American Eagle