Gold coins are a fantastic addition to your investment portfolio. Unlike other types of investments, gold usually holds its value even when the economy isn’t doing well.
If you’d like to open a gold IRA, you’ll need to purchase highly pure gold coins. Learn about some of the purest gold coins that are IRA-eligible below.
Understanding Gold Purity: How It Works
Gold purity is measured in fineness, which is a fraction or percentage. You’ll typically see gold purity in decimal form. For instance, if you have a coin with a purity of .999, it means that 999 parts per 1,000 are gold. The remaining 1/1,000 parts are another metal, such as silver or copper.
Today, most coins made of gold bullion are 24-karat gold coins, which means they’re 99.99% pure. Coins that are 99.99% pure are the highest-purity gold coins you can buy.
It’s nearly impossible to produce a gold coin that’s 100% pure. Gold is a very soft metal, so coin producers must mix it with other alloys for stability and hardness.
Understanding gold purity is important if you plan to open a gold IRA. Both gold coins and bars must be at least 99.5% pure (with the exception of the American Gold Eagle) to be eligible for an IRA.
The Purest Gold Coins in the World
Interested in buying the finest gold coinage for your collection? These are the purest gold coins in the world.
Canadian Maple Leaf
The Canadian Maple Leaf is the official bullion coinage of Canada. The Royal Canadian Mint issues these exceptionally pure gold coins annually.
The Royal Canadian Mint first issued the Canadian Maple Leaf in 1979. The coin features a maple leaf design on one side and an image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side.
The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the few mints worldwide to produce coins with .99999 purity. These highly pure coins are released in small numbers for commemorative purposes. In 2007, the Mint released only six .99999 coins, each with a value of $1 million. One of these coins was stolen from the Bode Museum in Germany and has never been recovered.
American Gold Buffalo Coin
The United States Mint introduced the American Gold Buffalo coin in 2006 with a design inspired by the historic buffalo nickel. The American Gold Buffalo has the distinction of being the first 24-karat gold currency ever produced by the U.S. government. Gold Buffalos are 99.9% pure, making them some of the purest gold coins on the market.
The obverse side of the coin features a design of a Native American, while the reverse side depicts the iconic American bison. Each Gold Buffalo coin weighs one ounce and has a face value of $50.
Austrian Gold Philharmonic Coin
The Austrian Mint launched the Gold Philharmonic coin in 1989. Originally, the Gold Philharmonic was only available in weights of 1 ounce and 1/4 ounce. Later, the Mint offered 1/10, 1/2, and 1/25 options as well. All are .9999 pure.
The obverse side of the coin features the Musikverein pipe organ. On the reverse side, you’ll see a variety of musical instruments used by the Austrian Philharmonic, including a cello, horn, harp, and bassoon.
The Big Phil, released in 2004 to celebrate the coin’s 15th anniversary, contains 1,000 troy ounces of .9999 gold. Each coin had a face value of €100,000 (approximately $111,000). The Austrian Mint only released 15 of these coins, making them some of the most sought-after on the collectibles market.
Australian Gold Kangaroo Coin
The Perth Mint introduced the Gold Kangaroo coin in 1987. This coin is 99.99% pure.
The obverse side of the coin features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, and the reverse side depicts an image of the beloved kangaroo. Both images have evolved slightly over the years. Newer Gold Kangaroo coins feature a kangaroo in motion, accented with rays of sunlight in the background.
In 2012, the Perth Mint released a Gold Kangaroo coin weighing one tonne, or 31,150 troy ounces. This Gold Kangaroo holds the record for the largest gold coin ever struck.
South African Krugerrand
The South African Krugerrand was one of the first gold bullion coins made available for private investors. Launched in 1967, the first coins weighed one troy ounce and contained 22-karat gold.
The obverse side of the coin features an effigy of Paul Kruger, a popular military figure who, at one point, served as President of the South African Republic. On the reverse side, you’ll find a striking image of the Springbok antelope.
The Krugerrand has an interesting minting history. For the first few years following its launch, the Mint set the coin’s annual printing cap at 40,000. In 1978, the Mint issued six million coins. Post-apartheid production dropped dramatically. In 1998, for instance, the Mint only struck about 23,000 coins.
American Gold Eagle
Few gold coins are more recognizable to collectors than the American Gold Eagle. Launched in 1986, these coins contain 22-karat gold, making them 91.67% pure. The remaining alloys consist of a mix of silver and copper.
The obverse side features an image of Lady Liberty with an olive branch in one hand and a torch in the other. The reverse side depicts a portrait of an eagle.
The U.S. Mint offers the American Gold Eagle in 1/10-, 1/4-, 1/2-, and 1-ounce sizes. Face values range from $5 to $50.
Proof versions of the American Gold Eagle are available as well. The U.S. Mint typically produces 12,000 to 45,000 proof coins per year.
In 2006, the U.S. Mint began offering burnished American Gold Eagles. Burnished coins have a frosted finish and a mirrored background.
Great Britain Gold Britannia Coin
The Gold Britannia is the official gold bullion coin of Great Britain. Launched in 1987, these high-purity gold coins first featured 22 karats of gold. In 2013, the Royal Mint upgraded the coins to 24-karat .9999 pure gold content.
The obverse side of the coin features a profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and the reverse side is an image of Britannia (the British version of America’s Lady Liberty).
Chinese Gold Panda Coin
In 1982, the Chinese Mint offered the Gold Panda in 1/10-, 1/4-, 1/2-, and 1-ounce weights, with each coin containing .999 pure gold. Today’s coins contain 99.9% pure gold.
The obverse side of the coin features the Temple of Heaven, and the reverse side an image of a panda. The panda image has changed every year, except 2002.
What Are Sovereign Coins?
Sovereign coins are minted by a country’s government. The term also refers to a British gold coin first minted in 1817. The sovereign was originally a circulation coin and accepted as currency. Today, it is a bullion coin and is highly sought-after by collectors.
Modern sovereigns consist of 22-karat gold; with a purity of 91.67% they are some of the purest gold coins available.
Why Buy Gold Bullion Coins?
If you’re looking for exceptionally pure gold investments, gold bullion coins are beautiful and hold their value very well. Additionally, pure gold bullion coins have historically served as a good hedge against inflation.
Adding Gold Bullions Into an IRA
Qualifying coins that meet gold coin purity standards include:
- American Gold Eagle
- Austrian Philharmonic
- Australian Gold Kangaroo
- Australian Lunar Series
- British Britannia (2003 and newer)
- Canadian Maple Leaf
- Chinese Panda
- U.S. Buffalo
To add gold to an IRA, you’ll first need to find a custodian. You’ll then fund your account, choose a precious metals dealer, and have your custodian purchase gold on your behalf. Learning how to detect counterfeit gold coins helps you ensure that you place only IRS-approved gold in your IRA.