Buyers are often unsure whether to buy coins or bars when it comes to investing in gold. Firstly people need to be aware that they are investing in gold not the coin or bar, coins or bars are simply different forms of the same product. That is not to say they are exactly the same value, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but for the average investor who is unaware of these it is worth pointing them out.
If we start with coins, the main advantage of coins is the ability of a dealer to distinguish its authenticity.ÂÂ Gold has a unique density as a metal, it is one of the most dense metals on the periodic table. This is highly significant because, a well-known coin has its dimensions set by the mint it originates from. A quick internet search will reveal these dimensions to you. Using this information you simply need to measure your coin’s dimensions and if they match you then need to check the weight. If both are correct you have a legitimate coin. You can perform these checks in seconds using a ÂÂ ‘Fisch’ device. This is an advantage over bars or bullion as I’ll explain later.
Coins can also have a numismatic element to them. The advantage of this is you may come across a coin that is worth more than its bullion content. However this is rare as coin collectors don’t often let collectible coins slip through the net undetected. The disadvantage of numismatics are paying too much over the bullion content and getting an emotional attachment to the coin. If your purpose is investing in gold, try not to get distracted by buying numismatics, leave that to the collectors.
Most of the best known coins in the gold market are backed by government rather than private refiners, i.e. sovereign , maple etc. Again this can lead to a slight premium in price but it more than pays for itself when it comes to selling. Also certain coins such as the gold sovereign have an affinity with the Irish and British markets, the same can be said of the gold maple in Canada. Again this is an advantage when it comes to re-sale.
The main advantage of bars is a low premium but it is important to get the product from a reputable source and the bar should be fabricated by a well-known refiner. The dimensions of bars are non-standardised, meaning you can get several different types cast, machined, assay stamped, assay unstamped. Therefore, counterfeiters are not bound by a mint’s pre-set dimensions. This simply means that they can create their own dimensions on a copy and then have the correct weight.
Other advantages of bars are the lack of emotional attachment that can come with coins particularly numismatics. Gold bar premiums do decrease with the larger bars but this is offset when it comes time to sell, it becomes harder to sell the product above 100g size.
In conclusion, of course there is an element of personal preference in the type of product the investor chooses, and indeed different investors will have different requirements. However, my advice would be to go for coins that are low premium, well known and easily tradable. In Ireland it is hard to look beyond the gold sovereign, it scores very highly in all three categories.
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