What is a Proof Coin?
Gold and silver coins typically come in three standards; proof, brilliant uncirculated, and bullion. Below we explain the differences between these striking standards, and the benefits of each.
Making a precious metal coin is hard work, but the process is straightforward: a blank is made, having been cut from a sheet of metal. It is washed and dried ready for being struck. The very best discs are chosen to become Proof coins, the next best as Brilliant Uncirculated, and the rest become bullion.
The best quality coin a mint can produce is a Proof coin. These are collectables, and typically commemorative. Due to their limited mintage and niche nature, these coins have a higher value attached to them.
The striking process for these coins required hand-finished dies (moulds). Expert craftsmen
design the mirror image of the coin onto a large stamp, which a machine then strikes the blank
coin disc with. This process is slow, and only 50 coins can be made in an hour.
Proof coins have no imperfections due to the hand crafting of the die, and they are struck six
times at a slower, less pressured rate compared to other coins. The striking machine is also
meticulously cleaned to ensure the perfect stamp every time.
Coin refiners, such as The Royal Mint, only issue small quantities of proof coins each year, to
ensure their rarity and desirability. These coins come boxed with a certificate of authenticity.
The second tier of coin quality is Brilliant Uncirculated. These coins are commonly indicated
by the letters BU, B.U, or B.UNC. Their quality lacks the same mirrored, glossy finish as proof
coins, but the detailing is exceptionally crisp and clear.
Like Proof coins, the Brilliant Uncirculated coins use hand-finished dies for the striking process,
but they are fed by machine, not hand. They are also only struck twice, rather than six times,
meaning the process is much quicker – 100 coins per hour rather than 50.
Most Brilliant Uncirculated coins are boxed and certificated, but some do come in protective
capsules like bullion gold and silver coins. If you’re ever unsure about a BU product, always
ask for further information from the seller.
The most common type of precious metal coin, Bullion coins are mass-produced and intended
as value preserved by the weight of the metal, rather than a collectable item.
Bullion coins may be the worst of the three types of striking, but they still boast a very good
finish. They lack the same crisp detailing and gleam of the other two coin finishes, but they
are well detailed, clear to see, and uncirculated.
A lot of our bullion coins come direct from The Royal Mint at their site in Llantrisant, Wales.
They produce 250 gold coins per hour and 3,000 silver coins. The mass production element
and one- strike finishing means that these coins are the most cost-effective option for both
the refiner and the buyer.
Our bullion coins will either be in an individual protective plastic capsule, or for larger orders
we will tube them up into bundles of 10 to 25.
Which is the best coin?
There is not much difference between the three coins. They all share the same design and they are all the same weight and purity of metal. The question for you as a buyer/investor is whether you want to pay extra for the additional touches to the finish.
As a gift, or something for presentation purposes, then this is a sensible option, but as a way of protecting your wealth it’s a bad idea. Equally, if you’re looking to be cautious with funds then you can quite easily buy a brand new, shiny bullion coin in a gift box and save paying anywhere up to double the price for a marginally better finish.
Ultimately you should balance your needs against your means; don’t be afraid to invest in a desirable and rare collectable, but make sure you do your research on the product and pricing.