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Collector Guide: Detecting fake gold bullion & valuable coins

Collector Guide: Detecting fake gold bullion & valuable coins

When buying and reselling collectible coins and valuable metals, there a few things to look out for to make sure your money is not wasted. With fake bullions or coins made with plated gold and tungsten to match weight as real gold, it can be easy to spot with a gold testing kit but they may be expensive sometimes requiring a XRF Spectrometer. There are a few things to look out for when buying and selling collectible coins & metal bullion.

As a very brief introduction to valuable metal bullion collecting, I would state it can be broken down into three distinct phases. At a high level, some artwork is meant to communicate a strong statement to the client. The artwork and the statement can make or break the sale of a collectible coin. The assignment of a value to a piece of artwork has to do with its rarity, class and its intrinsic value. Firstly the valuations of collectible coins and bullion involve classifications thus yielding an asking price which has to be substantial to make sure the buyer knows you are serious. But with genuine collectible coins, the ask price is often lower since the value comes from rarity, provenance which in some cases is recognized by its country of origin, weight and grade.

There are many ways to find valuable collectible coins & metal bullion, but we will look at those measurable in terms of density, melt value, and metallic content. These are the factors in determining the intrinsic and extrinsic worth of a coin. “Pure" has a nice ring to it and describes coins that are unadulterated as used in their original circulation or circulation piece. If you can guarantee your coin will not be altered, like engraved, embossed, or struck then it is ‘pure’ as far as pure silver coins go. This makes 100 Proof coins relatively available because not all are complete. Full Proof coins have been struck at least 6 times and graded by the PCGS which guarantees their intrinsic quality. All old US quarter, half, quarter-dollar and dollar coins from the early 1800’s and earlier have a positive melt point, meaning the composition of the metals used has changed over time since the metal used to sheet these coins has a high melting point (high melting point means more rapid expansion and liquid solidification). You can always tell the difference because coins made of pure copper oxidize first and quickly turn brown and get darker in color in a matter of hours after you touch them, i.e., if you touch 10,000 of these early quarters at 100 F, then by morning you will have a blackened old dime worth 5 cents. By contrast, coins made of pure silver (0 Fluoride) take weeks to turn a dark brown color which shocks the consumer but does not affect its intrinsic qualities. There are three primary types of metals used in US quarter coins today: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze has a lower melting point than gold, therefore it is used for quarters and half-dollars as well as quarters. Bronze isn’t necessarily best quality, however, it is the cheapest. The highest melting point (for one metal) used in quarters and half-dollars and one of the most widely-produced types, is..999 Fine Silver. Higher melting points make for stronger coins. Silver is easier to work with than gold and is set more precisely using a carat weight system where measuring a coin by weight compared to its diameter gives you its weight in grams (microns). Once you start seeing coins made with solid Silver these are often stored in wooden boxes.

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With many valuable options to pick from, whether it is cryptocurrency or tangible gold, you must always do your research to make sure you get the best value for your money as there have been reports of counterfeit coins and bullion. With research into these avenues showing that most counterfeit bullion is plated with real gold but with a base of tungsten would require as previously mentioned a XRF Spectrometer to detect where the normal gold scratching kits to test the surface would only be testing the surface.

With real Double Eagle Gold coins fetching prices from at least $2000 all the way up to over $3000, this makes them an easy target for counterfeiters to fake them and turn around and sell the fake ones for $700 for a quick buck. If anyone tries to sell you one of these coins in a haste, it's probably too good to be true if they are not trying to get the value of the coin and are just looking for a quick sale. Always verify with a XRF Spectrometer or from a valued merchant that is verified. Just because a coin or bullion is in a minted condition and graded does not mean there are no counterfeits of it, this makes it easier to counterfeit when they are not able to be opened and handled meticulously. 

With detailed research we were able to discern counterfeit or "replica" bullion vs the real deal, with a website actually having detailed counterfeits able to be looked up so you can be sure you're always buying legitimate collectible coins & bullion. With fake bullion being a fraction of the price from questionable vendors it was noticeable many replica graded bullions to be around the weight of 31.107g but of course we encourage you to do your own research utilizing such sites that keep track of these knock offs.

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