Glossary of Gold market terminology

For visitors to this site who are new to the gold trade, or who would simply like to better acquaint themselves with key vocabulary before investing in gold, we have compiled a useful glossary of potentially unfamiliar terms used in the gold buying & selling industry.



Arbitrage describes the process of both buying and selling gold in different markets to take advantage of price differentials.


The ask is the price that a dealer offers to sell gold.


An assay is a test performed to gauge the fineness and weight of gold.


A manner to measure weight, wherein one avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 grams.


Bear Market

A bear market is a market wherein the primary trend is on the decline.


Simply, a bid is the price a dealer is prepared to pay.


BU stands for Brilliant Uncirculated, an abbreviation often used to describe a coin in mint condition.


A bullion is a bar of gold or any other precious metal that is at least 99.5% pure.

Bullion Coin

A bullion coin will trade at a price relative to its intrinsic, rather than symbolic value.


Canadian Maple Leafs

Canadian Maple Leafs are bullion coins that have been minted by the Royal Canadian Mint.


Chameleon is the insider term used to describe a broker who changes their position on an investment to what they think will cause an investor to agree to a transaction.


Based in New York City, the Comex is one of the world’s largest commodities futures exchanges, and is a major centre for gold and silver are trading.


Despite being especially minted to commemorate a major event, person or place, this type of coin is also used as legal tender.

Contango Market

A contango market is a ‘futures market,’ wherein prices are higher in the succeeding delivery months than in the nearest delivery month.



A derivative is a financial instrument that is derived from a cash market commodity, futures contract, or other financial instrument. For example, futures contracts are derivatives of physicals commodities, whereas options on futures are derivatives of futures contracts.

Double Eagles

Double Eagles are US $20 dollar gold coins that were used as legal tender between 1850-1933.


Face Value

Face value describes the worth of a coin as stamped upon it when minted as legal tender.

Fiat money

Fiat money is cash made legal tender by law, but that has not been backed by gold or silver.


The background area (as opposed to crest, design or inscription) of on a coin.


Fineness describes the purity of a precious metal measured in 1,000 parts of an alloy. For example, a gold bar of .995 fineness contains 995 parts gold and 5 parts of another metal.

Fine weight

Describes the metallic weight of a coin, ingot, or bar, as opposed to the item’s gross weight, that includes the weight of the alloying metal.

Forward Transaction

A Forward Transaction is the purchase of gold at an agreed time and date in the future, similar to a futures contract, but without the same set of procedures and regulations.

Futures Contract

A business agreement to make a transaction on a specific set date in the future, but subject to legal restrictions.


Gold Eagles

Gold Eagles are modern gold bullion coins that have been minted in the US from 1986.

Gold Standard

The gold standard is a monetary system based on the rate of converting currency into gold.

Good Delivery

A set of specifications that gold must meet in order to be suitable for delivery at a particular exchange.

Grading Service

A company that grades coins, and following the grading process, wraps the coins in plastic, in a procedure known as ‘slabbing.’


A weight unit for gold – one troy ounce contains 480 grains.



The hallmark is the stamp on a bullion item that identifies its producer.


A hedge is a transaction with the intent of protecting an existing or anticipated market from unexpected price fluctuations.



An economic term that describes an increase in the money supply and available credit of a financial market. However, inflation can also be used to describe the increase in value of a particular commodity.


An ingot is a mass of metal that is cast into a shape, and is often used to describe a bar of gold, or even, silver etc.

Intrinsic Value

The value attributed to a gold coin’s metal content.



Karat is a term used to measure the purity of a precious metal. For instance, pure gold is 24 karat.

Kilo Bar

Fittingly, a kilo bar is a bar of gold that weighs one kilogram.


An Australian platinum coin, minted from 1987 and with a fineness of .995.


A krugerrand is a South African gold coin.


Legal Tender

The currency that a creditor or merchant is compelled by law to accept as payment.


The legend is the inscription on a coin.


Liquidity describes gold that is readily convertible into cash.

London Fix

The London Fix are two daily bidding sessions of five major London gold firms, at which the price of gold is set.


Lustre is the sheen on the surface of a coin, usually an uncirculated coin.


Market Value

The market value is the price at which a coin or bullion can trade.


A medallion is a round piece of metal resembling a coin, but is not a ‘coin of the realm.’ Thusly, a government or private mint will issue a medallion.

Mexican 50 Peso

The Mexican 50 peso is a gold coin that was first issued in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mexican independence.

Metric Ton

A metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or 32,151 troy ounces.

Mint Mark

The mint mark is a letter or symbol that is stamped on a coin to identify the minting facility where it was struck.

Mint State

A mint state describes a coin in uncirculated condition.


The lowest grade of mint state coins, whereas higher-grade coins are labelled MS-61 and up to MS-70.



An acronym for ‘Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America’, one of the two largest coin grading services in the US.


A Noble is a modern platinum bullion coin issued by the Isle of Man since 1983.


A nugget is a modern gold bullion coin, minted by Australia, and at a fineness of .9999.

Numismatic Coins

Numismatic coins have prices that are contingent to their rarity, condition, date, and mint marks, rather than their gold content.


A numismatist is a formal term to describe a coin collector.


NYMEX stands for the New York Mercantile Exchange, a future exchange where platinum and palladium, rather than gold, are traded.



The obverse is the front side of the coin that contains its principle motif and legend.


An option is the right, rather than obligation, to buy or sell a commodity on a specified date in the future – similar to a future exchange.



PCGS is the acronym for the Professional Coin Grading Service, second of the two major coin grading services in the US.


An American unit of weight for gold, wherein one pennyweight equals 24 grains or 1/20 of a troy ounce.

Physicals Market

A marketplace wherein the physical product is traded, rather than a contract or future exchange.


A tool used for stamping a coin or medallion.


The premium is the percentage a coin sells over its intrinsic value.


A proof is a high quality coin produced using dies and planchets in order to assure a sharpness of detail and flawless surface.


A put is an option that gives the owner the right to sell a commodity or a financial security on a specified date in the future.



A rally is a price movement following a decline, or deflation in the financial market.


An official reproduction of a coin formerly in circulation.


Short Sale

The sale of an asset for future delivery without possession of the asset sold.

Silver Eagles

Silver Eagles are modern 1-oz silver bullion coins.

Slabbed Coins

Slabbed coins have been encapsulated in plastic for protection against wear, often after they have been graded.


A sovereign is an English gold coin with a face value of £1 pound sterling and a gold content of .2354 ounces.


The price for the physical delivery of bullion bars.

Spot Market

A gold market in which the delivery and payment have to be made within two working days of the transaction.

Symbolic Face Value

The symbolic face value is the value given to legal tender coins that have been sold for their precious metal content.


Troy Ounce

The Troy ounce is a unit of weight for precious metals, where one ounce equals 31.1035 grams or 480 grains



A new coin in mint condition.



The yield is the measure on the annual return on an investment expressed as a percentage.