Gold coins with text "The Best Type of Gold Coins to Buy"

The Best Type of Gold Coins to Buy and Why


Written by John Rothans

Sep 9, 2022

Thinking of adding gold coins to your portfolio? If you’re looking to purchase precious metals, there are many types of gold coins you can buy, each with their own benefits and features. But which are the best gold coins to buy? How do they differ? It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a new buyer with all the choices available, so here are some basics you may wish to know about the different types of gold coins before you make a purchase.

How Many Types of Gold Coins Are There?

Currently, there are several gold coins available from the U.S. Mint, and thousands more available from mints worldwide. Not to be mistaken with gold rounds, which are produced by private mints and bear no legal-tender denomination, coins are minted by a sovereign government and are produced with a legal-tender denomination. Though gold coins are not generally intended for use as currency, their legal-tender status provides it with a minimum monetary worth, and is symbolic of the government-backed guarantee for each coin’s weight and purity. Beyond its denomination, a coin also has a “melt,” or “spot price,” that relates strictly to its precious metals content when melted down, whereas rounds only boast the latter.

What Size of Gold Coins Are Best to Buy?

Gold coins come in a variety of sizes and weights, although one-ounce coins are often seen as the standard. Fractional weights such as 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., and 1/2 oz. are also common and offer more affordable options and flexibility if you decide to liquidate your physical gold portfolio. In fact, size is another distinct way to differentiate coins and rounds—as an anti-counterfeiting measure, rounds are not allowed to have the same diameter, mass, or thickness as legal-tender coins. Ultimately though, the size of the gold coins you buy will often depend on what’s best for your portfolio.

What Does the Purity of a Coin Mean?

A coin’s “purity” refers to the measurement of actual gold alongside other metals, generally on a 24-point scale. A 24-karat (24k) gold coin is therefore pure gold, as it contains 24 of 24 parts gold, as opposed to 18k, for example, which contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals, such as silver or copper.

Take the Gold American Buffalo coin, for example. At 24k, this coin is considered pure gold because it contains 24 parts gold. The Gold American Eagle coin, at 22k, contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts other metals, including silver, copper, and zinc. This is to help ensure the longevity of the coin’s shape and design, as gold is a relatively soft metal.

Which Type of Gold Coin Is Best?

Purity is only one factor to consider when it comes to purchasing gold coins for your portfolio. While “caratage” refers to the purity of gold using the measurement of karats, “fineness” refers to the precious metals content of gold in parts per thousand. For example, the fineness of a 1-oz. gold coin could be .750, which means it’s 75% gold, or around 18k. However, this does not mean that the coin only contains .75 ounces of gold. Rather, it contains the full ounce of gold, plus additional metals. It’s also important to note that no gold coin, even those struck with 24k gold, will be 100% pure, otherwise it would not hold its shape.

Here are a few popular choices when it comes to considering gold coins struck by the United States Mint.

Gold American Eagle Coin

The Gold American Eagle coin is the most popular gold coin in the world, with hundreds of thousands of coins sold each year. As we mentioned before, the Gold American Eagle is a 22k gold coin, with a fineness of .9167. This means that the coin has additional copper and silver content, which offers the added benefit of resistance to scratching and marring. Available in 1-oz., 1/2-oz., 1/4-oz., and 1/10-oz. sizes, the Gold American Eagle was first minted in 1986 after the Gold Bullion Act of 1985 was signed. It bears what many consider to be the most beautiful U.S. coin design ever struck—Lady Liberty as she first appeared on the famous 1907 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Gold coin. Read more about the American Gold Eagle coin here.

American Buffalo Gold Coin

This coin is special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the initial 24k gold coin produced for public release by the United States Mint. Secondly, it bears the famous American “Buffalo Nickel” design from renowned American artist James Earle Fraser. First released in 2006, the American Buffalo Gold coin is made from 99.99%, or .9999, pure gold. Thanks to its purity, this gold coin is often easy to trade, allowing it to boast a high level of liquidity. American Buffalo Gold coins are only available to purchase in a 1-oz. weight. See the American Buffalo Gold coin in more detail.

Austrian Philharmonic Gold Coin

The Austrian Philharmonic Gold coin is a 24k gold coin with .9999 fineness. Introduced in 1989, this gold coin has a beautiful orchestra-inspired design and is one of the most popular gold coins in the world. Produced by the Austrian Mint, this gold coin also has the largest diameter of its 1-oz. contemporaries, at 37 mm. Take a closer look at the Austrian Philharmonic Gold coin here.

South African Gold Krugerrand

The South African Gold Krugerrand has had a big influence in the global gold market and is considered the first modern gold bullion coin for the everyday buyer. At 22k, with a fineness of .9167, this gold coin is easily traded based on its weight and current market price. The South African Gold Krugerrand was first issued by the South African Mint in 1967 and is recognized by gold buyers worldwide. Learn more about the history of this special coin here.

Canadian Maple Leaf

The Canadian Maple Leaf coin is the first major bullion coin to contain 1 troy ounce of .9999 fine gold—the highest purity available in government-backed bullion coins. First struck in 1979 by the Royal Canadian Mint, this gold coin is held in high regard and recognized for its high purity and quality. With a stunningly simple design showcasing the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada—the sugar maple leaf—this gold coin is another favorite of buyers worldwide. Read more about its rich history here.

How to Buy Gold Coins

Whether you’re ready to make a purchase of your first gold coin or still researching your options, the dedicated team at U.S. Money Reserve can help. Visit our shop to view or purchase the gold coins discussed here and more—or request our free Gold Information Kit to learn more about how you can diversify your portfolio with gold today.


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