A useful glossary of terms

Ask Price

The price at which a bullion dealer is willing to sell precious metals to a customer.

Assay

The process of testing and confirming the purity and authenticity of precious metals, usually conducted by an assay office.

Bid Price

The price at which a bullion dealer is willing to buy precious metals from a customer.

Britannia Coin

A popular and widely recognised bullion coin issued by the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom. The Britannia coin features the iconic image of Britannia, the female personification of Britain.

Bullion

Precious metals in the form of bars or coins, typically gold or silver, that are traded and held for investment purposes.

Bullion Coin

Legal tender coins with intrinsic value based on their precious metal content. Examples include the Britannia, Sovereign, Krugerrand, and Philharmoniker coins.

Cast Bar

Molton metal is poured into a mould and details such as the refiners mark, purity of metal and serial numbers are then added. The process is simpler and less costly than for minting. This is usually reflected in the price of the bars.

CGT

Capital Gains Tax. UK legal tender coins such as a Britannia or Sovereign are exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

Combi-bar

A minted bar that is designed to be easily broken into smaller pieces as required. Popular with those looking for something they can easily trade.

Delivery

The process of physically receiving or sending precious metals.

Fine Metal Content

The actual amount of pure precious metal present in a bullion product, expressed as a percentage.

Hallmark

A mark or stamp on a bullion product indicating its authenticity, purity, and origin.

Hedge

Precious metals can be used to balance the risk of poor performance of other assets within a diversified investment portfolio. See our article for more information.

Hedging

A strategy used by bullion dealers to offset the risk of price fluctuations by taking opposite positions in the futures market.

Karat

A measure of the purity of gold, with 24 karats being pure gold.

Krugerrand

A popular gold bullion coin originating from South Africa. Introduced in 1967, the Krugerrand does not have a face value but is considered legal tender. It played a significant role in making gold ownership more accessible to private individuals.

LBMA (London Bullion Market Association)

An international trade association that sets standards for the refining and trading of precious metals.

Liquid / Liquidity

“Liquidity refers to the efficiency or ease with which an asset or security can be converted into ready cash without affecting its market price. The most liquid asset of all is cash itself. Consequently, the availability of cash to make such conversions is the biggest influence on whether a market can move efficiently.

The more liquid an asset is, the easier and more efficient it is to turn it back into cash. Less liquid assets take more time and may have a higher cost.” (Investopedia.com).

Margin Scheme

A VAT (Value Added Tax) accounting scheme applicable to certain second-hand goods, including investment silver. Under the Margin Scheme, VAT is calculated only on the profit margin rather than the full selling price, making it relevant for dealers selling second-hand bullion products.

Mint

A facility that manufactures coins or bars. Examples include the Royal Mint in the UK and the Perth mint in Australia.

Minted Bar

Also known as biscuits or ingots. They are made from rolled gold which is cut and stamped using a die. These tend to have a cleaner, straighter and polished finish often incorporating detailed designs. Coins and rounds are produced using a similar process and using a round die.

Numismatic

Collectible coins with a premium based on factors such as rarity, historical significance, and condition rather than just their metal content.

Numismatic Value

The additional value assigned to a coin or bullion product based on its rarity, historical significance, or collector demand.

Palladium, Platinum, Rhodium

Other precious metals traded in the bullion market alongside gold and silver. Each has its own market dynamics and uses.

Philharmoniker

An Austrian gold bullion coin issued by the Austrian Mint. The coin features the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and is known for its high gold purity.

Premium

The amount over the spot price that a buyer pays for a bullion product. It includes the dealer’s markup and other associated costs.

Purity

The percentage of pure precious metal in a bullion product. For example, “999.9” denotes 99.99% pure.

Refinery

A facility that processes raw materials (such as mined metals) to produce bullion products of high purity.

Silver Eagle

A popular silver bullion coin issued by the United States Mint, featuring the image of the heraldic eagle.

Sovereign

A historic British gold coin with a nominal value of one pound.

Spot Price

The current market price for a specific precious metal. Bullion dealers often use this as a benchmark for pricing.

Spread

The difference between the bid and ask prices. A narrower spread often indicates a more liquid market.

Storage Fees

Charges incurred for storing precious metals in a secure facility, often offered by bullion dealers for customers who don’t take physical possession of their metals.

Troy Ounce

The unit of measurement for precious metals, slightly heavier than the avoirdupois ounce. One troy ounce is equivalent to approximately 31.1035 grams.

Wire Transfer or BACS

A common method of payment involving the electronic transfer of funds between banks.