How to spot counterfeit gold coins

How to spot counterfeit gold coins

How to spot counterfeit gold coins

Many new buyers of gold coins worry as to the authenticity of their purchase. Obviously the lack of familiarity with gold coins can leave new buyers more vulnerable to fake coins. Firstly fake coins are not that common but they do exist and a buyer needs to be able to detect one.

Buyers need to aware of the fact that Gold is extremely dense, it is the 7th most dense metal, and the other 6 with the exception of platinum are unsuitable for the production of coinage. Platinum is a different colour and rarer than gold, so it is often more expensive than gold.

Gold is also the most malleable of metals meaning it can be beaten in thinner sheets than any other metal, the fineness of 24k gold coins is testament to this, the detail and fineness of the Canadian gold maple and Australian kangaroo would not be possible with another metal. So how does this help us in verifying the authenticity of a gold coin? Take for example the British Gold Sovereign; primarily this is minted in the UK by the British Royal Mint. The dimensions (W*H*D) are set and have been by the mint since 1816.

Therefore we know that gold has a unique density and we know that the Royal mint has set unalterable dimensions on the coin. The mint’s reputation rests upon this premise. Counterfeiters in order to turn a profit would have to use a much cheaper substitute base metal, so the weight will be significantly less due to a lower density. The other alternative to the counterfeiter is to alter the dimensions i.e. make the coin much bigger in order to allow it to weigh more. So if the coin is fake either the weight or the size will be incorrect, they cannot fake both.

An individual can measure weight and dimensions themselves by using the appropriate equipment (scales, callipers etc.).However there is a unique and intelligent device called the ‘Fisch’, this small plastic device does not look too impressive at first sight, but has been crafted to check dimensions and weight of gold coins. There is a device for each major gold coin and it’s a fool proof method of quickly and accurately verifying your gold coin.

Malleability is another method of determining a coins authenticity. However experience is beneficial when it comes to understanding why. Gold as I mentioned is the most malleable of metals allowing mints to create extreme levels of fineness in detail and design. So base metals are obviously much less malleable, and this is noticeable in the finish.

Taking the famous British gold sovereign as an example, the sovereign has St. George slaying the dragon on the facade, in a real sovereign the detail of the horse’s mane and tail are vivid, even the contours of the horses muscles can be seen. With a fake coin this detail is impossible to create, all intricacies are smoothed over. With 24kcoins it becomes even harder for counterfeiters. The detail level of the Aussie Kangaroo or Canadian Maple Leaf is down to it being crafted with pure gold, an imitation would be so far off that any reasonable counterfeiter would not even attempt it.

So when it comes to buying gold coins, make sure you take the time to determine you are getting exactly what you are paying for.

22 or 24 carat gold bullion?

22 or 24 carat gold bullion

22 or 24 carat gold bullion?

When it comes to purchasing gold coins investors are often split between buying 22k and 24k coins.

Firstly to those who are unfamiliar with the terminology carat simply means simply a level of purity for gold alloys, the purity is measured as 24 times the purity by mass. In lay terms 24 carat is 99.99% gold (none or minimal alloy) and 22 carat is 91.66% (22 parts gold and 2 parts alloy). Understanding this leads to the question why use an alloy? The primary reason is due to gold’s inherent softness, pure gold is extremely soft and malleable, in jewellery or coinage this is often unsuitable. Unsuitable because coins in distribution are susceptible to wear and tear, the alloy toughens the coin and copper is much harder. The alloy(typically copper but sometimes silver) that is added changes the colour of the coin, copper adds a red-ish brown colour(as evidenced in the Krugerrand) and silver being a less dominant colour softens the gold colour(as evidenced in the American eagle).

Many buyers of gold coins believe that they are getting an inferior product when they are buying 22k gold coins, however this is not the case. 22k coins(Kruger, eagle, sovereign) weigh more than their equivalent 24k coins, the alloy is an extra weight difference that the buyer is not paying for. The gold is what the customer is paying for and when dealers present Krugerrands etc, they do call them 1 troy oz coins but this is simply because the alloy is disregarded.

24k coins in mint condition do have an aesthetic appeal that 22k does not have, this is because pure gold has a sparkle and fineness that dissipates when an alloy is added. However 24k coins are a relatively new phenomenon and are not minted to be handled/circulated. An example being the exquisite Aussie Kangaroo it certainly looks more attractive than the 22k equivalent.

However what many customers fail to understand regarding 24k coins is the fact that these coins are soft and scratch easily. The 24k coins often come in cases for good reason as a damaged or scratched 24k coin loses its premium. From experience many older 24k coins have not been maintained properly. On the other hand sovereigns from as early as the 19th century are often in a perfectly saleable condition. Most Krugerrands from the 1970’s again are in good condition and not as susceptible to scratching.

Good advice to buyers when buying gold coins is: only buy 24k if you are prepared to look after them (i.e. keep them encased). For those of you who like to handle your gold coins 22k is perhaps more suitable.