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.