Proof, Uncirculated Brilliant, and Bullion: Everything You Need to Know about Buying Physical Gold
If you’re going to purchase physical precious metals, you should know the types and finishes available to you. Here is a rundown of the different kinds – and qualities – of coins.
Precious metals come in a variety of beautiful finishes. As a precious metals buyer, you’ll want to know and understand the different options. Proof, uncirculated brilliant, and bullion coins offer unique advantages to those who are looking to protect their savings with precious metals.
Proof coins – what are they?
Regardless of which government mint produces them, proof coins are the very highest standard of precious metal coin, with unparalleled detail and craftsmanship. Their extraordinarily sharpness and luster is a credit to the skill and artistry of the minter, having been hand-polished and specially treated before striking. With their stunning, mirror-like finish and crystal clear, intricate pattern, proof coins can be an excellent addition to a portfolio of precious metals.
Proof coins are struck by hand-detailed dies, so that any flaws that might mar the strike are removed prior to the initial press, and each coin is inserted into its press by hand. The proof blanks receive at least two strikes at a comparatively lower speed than other coin finishes, resulting in superior clarity and definition.
Furthermore, proof coins are individually extracted from the press and closely examined for any imperfections. After each coin is struck, the dies are meticulously air-cleaned in order to preserve the integrity of the design. The methodical attention to detail means that very few coins can be struck within a particular time frame. While thousands of bullion coins can be produced in one hour, fewer than 50 proof coins can be struck in that time. Furthermore, the proof die must be thoroughly re-polished by hand after approximately 100 strikes.
Although the number of official proof coins is limited, many are produced with unique finishes. One particularly beautiful example is the high relief coin, where the design has a crisp, three-dimensional effect, resulting in detail so precise that nuances can often be identified by touch. The artistry of high relief proof coins rivals that of fine jewelry.
Another category of proof coin is the relatively new reverse proof. Standard proof coins feature a high-gloss background (table), with frosted relief (the design detail). Reverse proof coins have a mirror polish relief, with a frosted background. The frosted detail can be produced as either a satin or matte finish.
The rarity of proof coins, combined with their exceptional beauty and precise detail, makes the pieces extremely attractive to precious metals buyers seeking to supplement their collection with high-value products. For holders of precious metals IRAs, however, it is important to remember that American Eagle coins are the only proofs that are IRS-approved, since their purity is guaranteed by the U.S. government.
Brilliant uncirculated coins – a breakdown.
Although proof coins are the very highest grade of coinage, brilliant uncirculated (also called “B.U.”) coins can nonetheless be a great addition to any precious metals portfolio.
In order to be classified as “brilliant uncirculated,” these coins must retain at least 95 percent of their original degree of brilliance in their finish, with no scratches or wear marks that are indicative of circulated coins. While they are produced at a markedly larger scale than proof coins, there is nonetheless a fair amount of craftsmanship and quality control during the minting process – the dies are hand finished in the same way that proof coins are, only they are not hand-fed into die itself.
Bullion coins – an important consideration for any portfolio.
Many people who buy physical gold, silver, platinum, or palladium as an inflation hedge will also find bullion coins as an excellent option.
Standard bullion coins won’t necessarily be as intricate as their brilliant uncirculated counterparts, but they can be purchased at a lower premium. Bullion coins aren’t rare – gold coins can be struck at roughly 250 per hour, while as many as 3,000 silver coins can be struck per hour.
Surprisingly, one significant advantage to holding bullion is the fact that it is common, and therefore has a large, eager market. If you ever want (or need) to sell your bullion, the transaction will likely be very quick and straightforward, since there is no ambiguity with products that approach melt value. More collectable items, on the other hand, might take a bit more time, effort, and negotiation.
Although bullion coins won’t be valued very much above the spot price of the precious metals they contain, the coins are still remarkable pieces any buyer can be proud to own.
In order to ensure the best outcome for your precious metals investment – whether you are looking for growth or protection – it is critical to know what kind of bullion will most effectively meet your personal and financial goals. Here are a few things to consider before you make your purchase:
- Do you want to preserve your wealth?
- Do you want easy liquidity?
- Did you set out to buy proof coins?
- Are you comfortable with market fluctuations?