Fine gold bar with text "what is fine gold?"

What Is Fine Gold, and Why Does it Matter for You?

Fine gold, also called pure gold, is a term commonly used to refer to metal that is 99.9% gold. In some cases, as with bullion, the threshold for being defined as “fine” is 99.5% pure. Still others have reduced this threshold to 90% purity, though this is not common practice. Gold that’s 99.9% pure is designated 999 or 24-karat gold and is almost entirely pure in composition. Other terms used to denote fine gold include:

  • Fine gold 999
  • 999 fine gold
  • 995 fine gold
  • Fine gold 999.9
  • Fine .995 gold
  • 999.9 gold
  • .999
  • .995
  • .9999

Exactly how fine gold is designated on products depends on the mint or manufacturer. Regardless of how it’s presented, the fineness of gold often has an impact on its price. If you’re interested in purchasing gold or have already purchased gold for your portfolio, you may want to understand fineness and how it affects the price of gold.

What Is Considered Fine Gold?

Very specific measurement methods are used to identify the gold in a coin or other product as fine gold. Gold is an alloy, which means that it’s a substance made up of more than one type of metal or a metal that’s mixed with nonmetallic elements. The more nonmetallic elements or other metals that are in gold, the less pure it is.

Gold’s purity is graded based on the millesimal fineness scale. This scale is used to determine the purity of a precious metal by measuring the number of parts per thousand of pure metal.

Typically, anything that is 99.9% gold (999) or more is considered fine gold. The purest gold is 999.99, also called “five nines” fine or “five nines” pure. Just below this is 999.9 gold, which is also called “four nines” fine or “four nines” pure.

It’s also worth noting that fine gold can refer to gold flakes and dust that are so fine they can’t be measured using the millesimal system.

What Is the Difference Between Pure and Fine Gold?

In truth, there’s no difference between “pure” gold and “fine” gold. Gold that is 100% pure is nearly impossible to achieve. Because gold is an alloy, it’s never 100% pure. The term “pure gold” really refers to the finest of fine gold.

“Fine gold” is gold that’s almost completely pure in composition. As noted above, a metal alloy that is 99.9% gold or higher on the millesimal scale is considered fine gold by most standards.

Is Fine Gold 24 Karat?

Yes, 24-karat gold is considered fine gold. There’s very little difference between gold karats and gold fineness in terms of what they measure. Unlike with gemstones, which use the spelling “carats,” gold uses “karats,” which isn’t a measurement of size but rather purity.

Prior to the millesimal system, the karat system was used to measure gold’s purity in fractions of 24 parts (karats). This is where we get the terms 24-karat gold and 18-karat gold. Metal alloy that’s 24-karat gold is considered fine gold, although it isn’t 100% pure gold.

Below is a comparison guide for reference:

  • 24 karat—999, three nines, 99.9% (fine gold)
  • 22 karat—916
  • 20 karat—833
  • 18 karat—750
  • 15 karat—625
  • 14 karat—585
  • 10 karat—417
  • 8 karat—333

The minimum karats needed for a substance to be considered gold varies from country to country; however, most countries consider 8 karats to be the lowest level for gold.

Also be aware that some countries may use the spelling “carats” rather than “karats” to describe gold purity, the latter of which is most commonly used in North America. When referring specifically to the purity of gold, the two are interchangeable.

Is Fine Gold Worth a Lot of Money?

Yes, fine gold typically holds its worth on the market and is often seen as a sound way to store your wealth. Because it has very few impurities, if any, there’s nothing within fine gold to drive down its worth relative to the current spot price for gold.

Relative scarcity is part of fine gold’s inherent worth. Given that gold is a natural resource, its scarcity is more likely to increase than decrease. Scarcity is a major factor in gold pricing and a driving force behind why gold’s price typically has an upward trajectory.

In the case of gold coins that are certified by a third-party grading service, fineness may also impact the coins’ profit potential. Certified gold is authenticated and sealed in a protective holder to preserve its pristine condition. Since fine gold is more malleable and easier to damage, the protective casing helps maintain the gold’s integrity.

Are Gold Bars Pure Gold?

Some people purchase gold in the form of bars. Like other forms of gold, bars can have different levels of purity. This is why you may want to understand how purity is measured prior to purchasing gold.

If you plan to purchase gold as a means for storing and/or increasing wealth, buying gold bars with at least 995 purity may be a good way to ensure you are set up for long-term success. The international standard for investment-quality gold bars is 99.5% pure gold. Legitimate bars are stamped with the manufacturer's name, purity and the weight. The weight of the bar doesn’t affect the purity. If you purchase a 99.99% 1-oz. gold bar, it’s just as pure as a 99.99% 1-kilo gold bar. The difference is quantity, not quality.

Why Is Fine Gold Used for Bullion?

If you are looking to purchase precious metals, you may have come across the term “gold bullion” and wondered what it means. Many people mistakenly believe that bullion refers to a government-authorized coin that’s meant to be used as legal tender. In actuality, bullion can also refer to gold or silver products produced by a private mint. Gold bullion bars and gold bullion coins are also the most standardized way to purchase physical gold.

Fine gold is what you can expect when you’re purchasing gold bullion. Fine gold bullion will be at least 99.5% (995 or .995) pure. The minimum gold purity for wholesale market trading is 995 or 99.5%. Many people prefer to purchase bullion because it has few impurities. Using fine gold for bullion can have a positive effect on price, and it makes navigating the gold market easier by estimating the price of a gold product based solely on its weight.

Historical data indicates that gold can be a very effective way to help safeguard wealth over time. When you purchase gold from U.S. Money Reserve, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re buying high-quality gold bars and coins. If you are interested in learning more about why gold is an effective way to diversify a portfolio and how gold can fit into your overall financial strategy, request your free Gold Information Kit.


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