Introduction to Owning Silver & Gold - Post 1

Owning Precious Metals

This is the first of several “Introduction” blog posts about Owning Silver & Gold that will cover common questions of what bullion is, how it's measured, what purities there are, what kind of products you can buy, why to buy to historical blunders, counterfeit concerns, market prices vs. the economy, etc. In this post, we start with the very basics - What is Bullion? What is a Troy Ounce? What is Numismatics?


For over 2,000 years metals like silver and gold have been a constant, trusted source representing money for trading purposes. From ancient Egyptians to the backwaters of the lone prospector, precious metals have long been sought after for their value and beauty. People are naturally drawn to the metals' luster and shine, but where do you start when you want to own silver & gold? Read on to learn more!

What is Bullion?

Purchasing bullion is the most common way to invest in precious metals, such as gold and silver. Bar-shaped ingots are the most commonly recognized form of bullion, with round medallions (often referred to as 'rounds') being the second most popular. Some people also consider other shapes and forms of precious metals to be bullion. More often than not, bullion will be marked with the fineness of the piece's metal content. For instance silver bullion will contain 99.9% silver and be marked as ".999 silver" somewhere on the piece - the number of Ounces should be indicated as well. Gold bullion is typically 99.99% fine and will be marked as ".9999 fine" gold somewhere on the piece itself.  If the piece you have is not marked with the purity on in somewhere, it likely is not a precious metal - to be sure though, you can have it tested by a professional and they can tell you if it is or is not and what purity it may be.

Here are some Bullion BARs and Bullion ROUNDS/MEDALLIONs that SilverTowne has to offer.

What is a Troy Ounce?

The most common measurement system used for everyday weights especially in the United States, is called the Avoirdupois weight system - which includes ounces that you are used to seeing in relation to everyday items. But precious metals, and a few other commodities such as gemstones, are measured in TROY weights. 1 avoirdupois ounce = 28.35 grams | 1 troy ounce = 31.10 grams. 1 troy ounce weighs more than 1 avoirdupois ounce. However, there are 16 avoirdupois ounces in 1 avoirdupois pound, as compared to 12 troy ounces in 1 troy pound. To keep it simple, just remember that 1 troy ounce of silver weighs more than 1 ounce of sugar grains and many other commonly weighed everyday items. So when you're looking at 'how many' ounces are marked on a piece of bullion you own - whether it be gold, silver, platinum or palladium - it will be in Troy Ounces and if you happen to have 12 of them, you technically own a whole TROY POUND - that's pretty cool!!

What is Numismatics?

Numismatics is the studying and collecting of coins, paper currency, medals, tokens and in a broader sense, any other payment forms used to resolve debts or in the exchange of goods. Therefore, a numismatist is anyone who engages in those studying or collecting activities. At a very basic level, this is probably what 'Grandpa' does or did -- did you ever look through coins with your Grandpa searching for those 'special dates'?  I know I did and it means a lot more to me now that I know how he was sharing his love of numismatics with me long before I even know what the word meant!

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Coming up in our next post - "What is YOUR Style?"