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Certified Gold and Silver Coins: Everything you need to know

USBCR Graded Coins

Certified coins are a growing part of the coin collecting hobby. Certified coins have been submitted to a professional grading service such as the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) for a professional opinion of the coin’s authenticity and grade.

The service places the coin inside a plastic holder (‘slab’ in the industry), which displays the coin through clear plastic that is sealed in such a fashion to make it impenetrable without damaging the holder making such tampering very evident. The holder includes a label containing a unique serial number and details about the coin, and various holograms and other counterfeit deterrent features.

Certified coins have been accepted market-wide as a standard and are often traded sight-unseen based on the market’s trust in the information provided on the label sealed within the holder. While certified coins have several positive features, some collectors prefer to collect part or all of their collections without certification (known as ‘raw’ or ‘uncertified’ coins). Below are some reasons why collectors may prefer one over the other:

Certified Coins:

  1. Protection: Undoubtedly certified holders provide superior protection to almost any other commercially available means.
  2. Re-Sale: Both in ability and in ease, certified coins are most often easier to resell.
  3. Guarantee: Major grading services offer limited guarantees on their workmanship and on the authenticity of what they’ve encapsulated.
  4. Grade/Authenticity: The guess-work in grading coins and determining whether they are genuine is removed with certification through a trusted source.
  5. Storage: Hard plastic boxes that hold certified coins in rows are a popular choice for neatly organizing a collection.

When compared to bullion coins, certified gold coins can provide precious metals owners a way to minimize risk and maximize reward over a longer period of time. Unlike bullion coins, certified coins are evaluated and graded for their condition and rarity by a third-party grading service, like Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). The higher the grade, the more perfect—and, often times, pricier—the coin.


Many certified gold coins are proof coins, which have a markedly different appearance than gold bullion coins. A certified coin with a “proof” finish goes through a special minting process and is struck multiple times, giving it a richer level of design detail and an eye-catching, mirror-like finish. These coins are then encapsulated and sonically sealed in impact-resistant, tamper-proof plastic cases to protect their coveted condition. After all, the coin’s condition can be a major factor in determining its potential!




Performance & Cost

Certified coins can be particularly ideal for those in search of long-term profit potential. Why? While the price of gold bullion coins is primarily determined by the spot price of gold and the coin’s weight in gold, the price of a certified coin is also tied to its availability and condition. Accordingly, certified coins have shown to not be subject to the same level of spot price volatility as bullion coins. When economic conditions start seesawing, you could see the price of a certified coin fluctuate less than that of a bullion coin.

Due to their rarity, grading, and insulation from spot market volatility certified gold coins can achieve greater potential when held for longer periods of time. By nature, their scarcity allows for increased potential.


In 1948, Dr. William Sheldon, a renowned numismatist, developed the Sheldon Scale, assigning grades from 1 through 70 to coins. The basis of Sheldon’s theory was that a 70 would be worth 70 times as much as a 1.


No handling marks or defects, even under high magnification. Full luster. A flawless coin, virtually non-existent.


The cameo effect on a proof coin is produced by the field having a mirror-like surface and the coin’s devices having a frosted surface. Proof coins minted before 1971 were made using a technique so that only the first hundred coins had a cameo contrast effect.

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