Our gold bullion glossary helps you understand many of the technical terms used in the gold industry.
Gold Financial Glossary
Ask Price – The selling price a dealer offers.
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.
Austrian 100 Corona – Restrike bullion gold coin containing .9802 ounce of gold.
Avoirdupois – A system of weights for commodities except precious metals, stones, and drugs. One avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 grams or 437.50 grains.
Bar – A mass of metal cast or shaped into a convenient shape. In the precious metals industry, the words bar and ingot are used interchangeably.
Bid Price – The price a dealer pays for bullion or coins.
Brilliant Uncirculated – A coin that has never been in circulation, and is in shiny, new, and immaculate condition. Also known as BU.
Bullion – Precious metals like platinum, gold or silver in the form of bars or other storage shapes. Bullion coins are made of these metals, too.
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.
Canadian Maple Leafs – Modern bullion coins minted by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Circulated – Coins that have been distributed to the public as currency. Usually in much worse condition than uncirculated coins.
Collector Coin, Historic Coin, or Numismatic Coin – A coin whose value is based on rarity, demand, condition, and mintage; in fact, it may be worth more than its bullion value.
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.
Double Eagles – U.S. $20 gold coins used as legal tender 1850-1933. Double Eagles contain .9675 ounce of gold and come in two designs: the St. Gaudens (Walking Liberty) and the Liberty.
Fineness – The fineness of a precious metal refers to the ratio by weight of the primary metal to any added base metals or impurities. Fineness is expressed in parts per 1000. A gold bar that is 75% pure has a fineness of 750. Gold bullion is typically of .995 fineness or better.
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 Eagle has a fine weight of one troy ounce but a gross weight of 1.0909 troy ounce.
Gold Eagles – Modern gold bullion coins minted by the U.S. Mint since 1986. Gold Eagles come in four sizes: 1-oz, 1/2-oz, 1/4-oz and 1/10-oz.
Gold Standard – A monetary system based on convertibility into gold; paper money backed and interchangeable with gold.
Good Delivery – The specification that a bar of precious metal must meet in order to be acceptable for delivery at a particular exchange.
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.
Grain – Earliest weight unit for gold. One troy ounce contains 480 grains.
Hallmark – Mark or stamp on a bullion item that identifies the producer.
Ingot – A mass of metal cast into a convenient shape. In the precious metals industry, the words ingot and bar are used interchangeably.
Intrinsic Value – The value of a coin’s metal content.
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.
Karat – A measure of fineness of gold. The measure is in 24 parts. 24 karat gold is consider pure 100% gold. 18 carat gold is 75% gold.
Koala – Australian platinum coin, minted since 1987,.995 fine.
Krugerrand – South African gold coin.
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.
Melt Value – The basic intrinsic bullion value of a coin if it were melted and sold.
Mint – The refining or fabricating company which created a certain bar, round, or coin. Ex: Golden State Mint.
Mint Mark – A letter or symbol stamped on a coin to identify the minting facility where it was struck.
Mint State – Describes a coin in uncirculated condition.
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.
Premium – The amount by which the market value of a gold coin or bar exceeds the actual value of its gold content. The seller can recover part of the premium at resale.
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.
Silver rounds – 1-oz .999 fine round pieces of silver about the sizes of silver dollars. Typically, silver rounds are privately minted, as contrasted with the 1-oz .999 fine Silver Eagles that are official silver coins of the U.S. Mint.
Slabbed coins – Coins encapsulated in plastic for protection against wear. Generally, “slabbed” coins are graded by one of the two major grading services.
Sovereign – English gold coin with a face value of one pound sterling and a gold content of .2354 ounce.
Spot Price – The current price in the physical market for immediate delivery of gold; sometimes called the cash price.
Spread – The difference between the buying price and the selling price.
Troy Ounce – The unit of weight for precious metals. One troy ounce equals 480 grains, 1.09711 ounces, or 31.103 grams.
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
Gold Mining Glossary
Adit – a horizontal or nearly horizontal underground passage coming to the surface at one end of a mine.
Alluvial – of or pertaining to alluvium; alluvial soil.
Alluvium – a deposit of sand, mud, etc., formed by flowing water.
Assay – to analyze (an ore, alloy, etc.) in order to determine the proportion of gold, silver, or other metal in it.
Claim – something that is claimed, esp. a piece of public land for which formal request is made for mining or other purposes.
Claim Jumper – a person who seizes another’s claim of land, esp. for mineral rights.
Coyote Hole – a shallow excavation dug in the ground for mineral exploration or extraction.
Drift – an approximately horizontal passageway in underground mining.
Excavation – an area where rock or alluvium has been removed.
Fools Gold – FeS2 – iron pyrite, sometimes mistaken for gold.
Gold – a precious yellow metallic element, highly malleable and ductile, and not subject to oxidation or corrosion. Symbol: Au; atomic. weight: 196.967; atomic number: 79
Headframe – a structure supporting the hoisting sheaves at the top of a mineshaft. Also called gallows frame.
Lode – a deposit of gold or other minerals.
Malleable – malleability, property of a metal describing the ease with which it can be hammered, forged, pressed, or rolled into thin sheets. Metals vary in this respect; pure gold is the most malleable.
Mercury – a liquid metal used by the miners to concentrate gold Symbol: Hg; atomic. weight: 200.59; atomic number: 80
Miner – a person who works in a mine.
Mine – to dig in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores or other valuable minerals.
Mother Lode – a belt of very rich gold-bearing quartz veins.
Nugget – an random shaped piece of gold of medium to large size.
Ore – a mineral-bearing rock, which may be rich enough to be mined at a profit.
Placer – alluvial deposit containing particles or larger pieces of gold or other minerals.
Portal – an entrance to a tunnel, drift or adit in a mine.
Prospect – an excavation undertaken in a search for ore.
Prospecting – the search for mineral deposits suitable for mining.
Quartz – one of the most common of all rock-forming minerals and one of the most important constituents of the earth’s crust. Quartz may be transparent, translucent, or opaque; it may be colorless to colored.
Raise – a shaft excavated upward for connecting adjacent levels. The terms “raise” and “winze” are used interchangeably to describe a completed opening.
Rake – a timber placed at an angle.
Shaft – a vertical or sloping opening, giving access to the various levels of a mine.
Stalactites – a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like an icicle, hanging from the roof of a cave or the like, and formed by the dripping of calcareous (containing calcium) water.
Stamp Mill – a mill or machine in which ore is crushed to powder by means of heavy stamps or pestles.
Stope – any upward excavation made in a mine, esp. from a steeply inclined vein, to remove the ore that has been rendered accessible by the shafts and drifts.
Tailings – refuse material resulting from the washing, concentration, or treatment of ore.
Tunnel – an approximately horizontal underground passage open at both ends.
Vein – a deposit of non-sedimentary origin, which may or may not contain valuable minerals; lode.
Winze – a vertical or inclined shaft, driven downward from a drift into an ore body to another level. (see raise)