The 8 Best Gold Investment Coins
Although gold constitutes less than 10 percent of most well-diversified investments or precious metals portfolios, investing in gold is still vital. There are different ways to put money in gold. You cannot truly experience or replicate the charm of investing in the real deal if you buy digital gold or invest in gold stocks and ETFs. And when discussing physical gold, gold bullion coins come to mind instantaneously.
Gold coins are usually preferred over gold bars and other tangible gold forms for the convenience, portability, liquidity, and design options they provide. Bullion coins come in a wide range of sizes. Although bars span varied dimensions, gold coins are slightly more flexible. The smaller sizes mean increased trading quality. Also, gold coins are more aesthetically pleasing and, as a result, more inclined to appreciate in value over time. Gold bars are pretty generic design-wise and don’t stand apart much.
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Certain gold coins are more collectible due to their limited mintage or unique designs and could go up in value much beyond industry expectations or the market price of the gold they contain. It’s rare to impossible for a gold bar to command a price more than its intrinsic value due to its genericness. However, not all gold coins possess the above qualities. The majority do not, in fact.
Read more: The Best 1 oz Gold Coin to Buy
This article will highlight gold bullion coins that stand apart from the crowd and command respect in the investing community. We’ll briefly introduce you to the coins and discuss their design and market values. If you’d like to know more, we urge you to click on the links that take you to an in-depth review piece. So, what are the best gold bullion coins to invest in?
American Eagle Gold Coin
The American Eagle gold coin is the first bullion coin people consider when contemplating investing in gold sovereign coins. The coin is not completely gold (more on that later), yet it commands a big following. It could be the coin’s design or purely the street cred. More investors know about the gold American Eagle than any other bullion coin. Not to mention, the coin is United States’ official gold bullion authorized by the 1985 Gold Bullion Coin Act.
To elaborate on design, the American Gold Eagle coin features the Lady of Liberty’s image on the front. The rear side shows an eagle family and a nest, symbolizing America’s unity and family traditions. American Gold Eagle coins aren’t the first to showcase the Liberty image; that credit goes to the Double Eagle coin. In 2021, the bullion coin started to showcase close-up pictures of the male bald eagle.
The American Gold Eagle coin is 91.67 percent gold, making it a 22-karat piece. Although the gold content is high, it’s nowhere near as pure as the 0.9999 fine gold coins on this list. The remaining 8.33 percent of the Gold American Eagle is copper (5.33 percent) and silver (3 percent). As a result, the gold coin assumes a reddish hue, setting it apart from other gold coins. Gold Eagles are also legal tender, and the face value is based on their size. A full troy ounce of gold Eagle coin has a face value of $50, much lower than the coin’s intrinsic worth.
American Buffalo Gold Coins
If you appreciate the historicity and understand the popularity of the American Eagle but are not a fan of its purity (or the lack of it), there are quite a few 24-karat gold coins to choose from. If you live in America and fancy a U.S.-made fine gold coin, look at the American Buffalo gold coin. Introduced in 2006, the American Gold Buffalos are 0.9999 pure gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint. In other words, it’s a 24-karat coin.
The coin gets its design inspiration from the well-known Buffalo nickel, which also explains its name. It features a Native American’s right profile, and the reverse sports the American Bison, or the buffalo—a popular American West symbol from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Native American featured on the obverse is not an actual individual but the composite or amalgamation of shots of multiple indigenous men. In other words, the individual doesn’t exist in real life.
The Gold Buffalo coin comes in different sizes, ranging from one troy ounce to 1/10th of an ounce. The 1-ounce currency is quite popular. It measures 32.7 mm diametrically and is 2.95 mm thick. Its dimensions are marginally bigger than the U.S. quarter. Also, the coin is legal tender. Its legal tender value is $50. But, of course, the actual value is much more than that due to the gold content.
Read more: The Trump Gold Coin
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin
Produced at the Royal Canadian Mint, the Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin is perhaps the first gold bullion coin issued in pure gold. Before it, gold coins were primarily alloys containing other precious metals, such as silver and copper, as they had to be robust and durable for local trade. Gold is a soft metal and easily bendable. Although the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin is used in transactions in Canada, it’s one of those few coins that appeal significantly to gold purists worldwide.
The Canadian Maple Leaf coin bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the front. The reverse side features the maple leaf, the symbol of Canada. The leaf is showcased in great detail, with each serration and vein visible. The maple leaf has been updated to reflect the technological improvements. Current designs also feature a laser-engraved, small maple leaf as a security component. By the way, the year of the issue is inscribed around the coin’s edge.
Canada’s Gold Maple Leaf coin scores 0.9999 on the gold fineness scale. The coin was 0.999 pure from 1979 to 1982. Thereafter, the purity level was increased to 0.9999. The 24-karat Canadian Maple Leaf coin comes in different weights, ranging from 1 oz to 1/20 oz. The 1 oz and 1/20 oz coins have face values of C$50 and C$1, respectively, corresponding to the coin’s weight. The coin is used in transactions in Canada. The value, however, is based on the size and market value of the gold in the coin and not the labeled value.
Austrian Vienna Philharmonic Gold Coin
The Austrian Vienna Philharmonic gold coin is top-rated in the gold bullion investing community, particularly in Europe and America. It easily enters any “top 5 gold coins for investors” list online. The bullion coin hasn’t caught up that well in Asia, however. In production since 1989, the Vienna Philharmonic gold coin made by the Austrian Mint is a 99.99 percent pure gold bullion coin.
The iconic gold coin features the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic concert hall. The coin’s reverse side showcases different musical instruments, which include the harp, cello, violin, flute, and horn. The design displays the Austrian Mint’s attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship. Thanks to the design uniqueness and relative rarity, the coin usually trades for a premium, on par with the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins.
Austrian Philharmonic gold coins are legal tender but only on Austrian land, despite its euro denomination. On a related note, the coin comes in varied sizes with different face values. The one-troy-ounce variant has a €100 face value. The smallest size is 1/25 t oz, which bears a value of €4. Needless to say, the bullion coin is worth more than that. If you live in Europe and buying gold coins for the first time, begin with the Vienna Philharmonic. It will be easier to procure and securely store the coin than in any other part of the world.
South African Gold Krugerrand
The South African Gold Krugerrand is one of the most popular gold bullion coins globally, despite not being 24 karats. Introduced in 1967, the bullion coin is among the first gold coins to have grabbed the attention of bullion investors worldwide. It won’t be presumptuous to opine that the gold Krugerrand paved the way for investment-grade coins that came after it. Almost all gold coins on this list were introduced after the Krugerrand gold coin, in fact.
The Krugerrand gold coin is not fully gold. It is a gold and copper alloy—to be specific, 91.67 percent is gold, and the remaining 8.33 percent is copper. In gold terminology, it’s 22 karats. The coin’s front showcases Paul Kruger, a former South African politician and state president. He was a key figure in South Africa’s independence movement during the 19th century. The reverse side of the coin is an engraving of a springbok antelope. The iconic design has remained pretty much the same over the years.
Although considered legal tender in South Africa, thanks to SARBA (The South African Reserve Bank Act of 1989), the Krugerrand gold coin has no face value. The transactional value was determined based on the prevailing prices of gold. Its assumed value is a rand, which is purely representational. Currently, the coin’s iconic status or popularity among coin collectors deems the currency more valuable than its weight in gold.
Australian Kangaroo Gold Coin
Also called the Australian Gold Nugget, the Gold Australian Kangaroo is a prestigious, investment-friendly, and unique coin. Made by the Perth Mint, the coin is fine gold and boasts a dynamic design (more on that below). The coin has been produced since 1986 and has continued to be extremely popular among investors and collectors. The currency got the “nugget” name as the issue from 1986 to 1989 had the gold nugget image on the back. After that, the mint adopted the kangaroo image. If you were wondering where the nugget name came from, now you know.
The coin has a kangaroo’s image on its reverse side. The coin carries a portrait picture of Queen Elizabeth II. What’s unique about the kangaroo on the front is that it’s never the same across yearly issues. Although the changes to the rear are not major, they are noticeable enough to render each issuance different from the previous and future batches. The annual design changes make the coin variants different and highly collectible.
The gold bullion coin is 0.9999 fine or 24 karats and comes in different sizes. The Western Australian government guarantees the coin’s purity. The coin is a legal currency in Australia with a face value that changes with size. The 1-ounce gold coin, for instance, has a legal tender value of A$100. The half-ounce and quarter-ounce versions bear face values of A$50 and A$25, respectively. The smallest 1/20 oz coin is marked as A$5. Needless to say, the coin is a lot more valuable than that, as it’s made entirely of gold.
Chinese Gold Panda Coin
The Chinese Gold Panda coin is a 99.9 percent pure, 24-karat gold coin. It is probably the only gold bullion coin from an Asian country to have earned international acclaim. Gold investors or people interested in bullion gold investing usually have the gold Chinese panda coin on their “probables list.” Made by the CGCC (China Gold Coin Corporation) at multiple mints, the China Gold Panda coin was first released to the public in 1982 and has become quite popular in the gold investment market.
The bullion coin’s obverse side bears the engraving of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. The reverse side features the eponymous panda. Like the kangaroo on the Australian gold coin, the panda design on this Chinese coin is dynamic. There have been subtle design changes to the panda image since the coin's inception. The panda design was carried over only once during the 2001-2002 period.
And like the Australian Gold Kangaroo coin, the yearly design changes make every annual issuance of the Panda coin unique and highly collectible. It’s worth noting that despite being 24-karat gold, the Chinese Gold Panda coin is not IRA-eligible. It’s usually got to do with the manufacturing source. First, the Panda coins are not made at a single location or mint. Second, it’s hard to decipher which mint a particular issue came from. These origin questions make it harder for the IRS to allow the coin in an IRA.
British Gold Britannia
The British Gold Britannia coin is a popular gold coin from the shores of the British Islands. First launched in 1987 and made by the Royal Mint, the Britannia gold coin. The gold coin is 91.7 percent gold or 0.917 fine and comes in different sizes. Between 1987 and 2012, the coin had four size variations. The choices expanded to seven in 2013. The biggest coin weighs five ounces or 156 grams. The smallest 1/40 oz coin is 0.8 grams and is possibly the smallest investment-grade bullion coin you can get.
The term “Britannia” denotes an imaginary woman that personifies Britain. The Britannia image is showcased on the coin’s reverse, equipped with a shield, helmet, and trident. The obverse or front side of the coin bears Queen Elizabeth II’s image. Note that the Gold Britannia coin isn’t the only currency coin to use the Britannia. Moreover, not all images of Britannia are the same. There could be minor to significant differences based on the coin and period. In fact, the picture in the Britannia coin has had changes made over the years.
Britannia gold coins are legal tender and exempt from UK’s Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The coins are also VAT-free and sell for a lesser relative premium. Based on the coin’s size, the face value changes. Since there are multiple size variants, the range is quite broad—starting at 50 pence and ending at £500. And since there are so many size choices, you will likely find one at your favorite gold dealer or online store.
Read more: Most Valuable Gold Coins
Gold investing is undoubtedly a wise way to invest money and safeguard wealth. But not all gold assets are the same—there’s particularly a significant difference between digital and physical gold. And if you are going the metal route because you’d like to own a piece of the precious metal, we suggest you invest in bullion coins—at least, start from there.
The aforementioned gold coins are the best options you currently have. You can even invest in gold bars, but those may not be as convenient as coins or handy to carry around. Jewelry is another option, but those should be the last thing you must consider if investing in gold is the objective.
If you’d like to know more about gold coins or want to create a precious metals portfolio, we suggest you read our other posts and educate yourself further. Here is a piece on gold prices to get you started. And if you’d like to know more about the coins discussed above, read their separate review pieces.
Why do gold bullion coins sell for a premium?
Gold bullion coins sell for a premium for the design and the work gone into conceiving the piece. The heritage, mintage, and novelty attached to them jack their prices up. And if a particular gold coin is no longer in circulation and is in pristine condition, expect to pay even more.
Where can I purchase gold bullion coins?
Gold bullion coins listed above and the ones not mentioned are available at online and offline precious metal dealers. APMEX, JM Bullion, Money Metals Exchange, SD Bullion, and Golden Eagle Coins are some of the best places to buy gold bullion coins online. Not to mention, you can always purchase these coins at a trusted jeweler near you.
Which is the first gold bullion coin to be ever made?
Some gold coins are touted to be the first ever minted. They go back centuries. The South African Krugerrand is the first bullion coin to gain true worldwide acclaim. Its ancientness is the reason it’s coveted despite not being 24 karats.
What is the best gold coin size for investing?
Gold coins come in different sizes but incur similar to identical minting costs, irrespective. Generally, the smaller the coin, the lesser the price paid for the actual gold. As the size goes up, more of the money spent goes toward gold. However, a relatively large coin may not be accessible. The 1-ounce gold coin is ideal since it strikes the right balance between price and value. The smaller coin, however, benefits from increased liquidity due to its affordable price points.
Should I buy a gold coin or a gold bar?
A gold bar will suit you best if you fancy only the gold and don’t care much about the gold article’s mintage, shape, design, etc. Gold coins, as mentioned above, carry a premium that gold bullion bars do not. But because gold bars are just pure blocks of gold, they are doubtful to sell for a price more than current gold prices. Because gold coins have a history and are aesthetically made, they could attract a more significant premium.
Should I buy gold coins for a premium?
It depends on how high the premium is. If the gold coin’s price is slightly more than the spot value of gold, that’s normal. However, if the coin’s price is astronomical because it’s some rare, coveted coin, steer clear. But if investing is not the objective and you’re looking at the piece purely as a collector or for its rarity and historical value, go ahead and splurge.
What is the difference between a proof coin and a bullion coin?
A proof coin is a collector edition minted through a unique process employing special die-fitted presses. The coin is struck several times so that the gently frosted yet detailed pictures look as if they’re floating over a mirror-like base, creating elaborate gold coin reliefs. Proof coins are uncirculated coins specially packaged for increased protection and have an authenticity certificate.
A bullion coin helps investors invest in gold. They are more mass-market offerings and are usually not valued for their age or rarity. Their prices are based on current gold market prices and can be bought directly from authorized dealers. A proof coin is usually bought directly at its mint and may not be readily available elsewhere. The gold coins discussed above are available in their bullion and proof avatars.
Can you procure gold bullion through an IRA?
Yes, you can purchase or invest in gold coins and bars through a precious metals IRA. All other coins mentioned above are eligible for an SDIRA (self-directed individual retirement account) except for the Krugerrand and Chinese Gold Panda coin.
Where do I store my gold bullion coins?
You can store your gold coins in your house or at a third-party facility. It all depends on how many there are and how much you value their security. If you’re investing in the coins through a gold IRA, you’ll have to store the coins with an IRS-approved depository.