What is a Proof Coin?
There are three types of finish for gold and silver coins: Proof, Brilliant Uncirculated, and Bullion. Below you can read about the different traits of each, and the striking standards involved.
To make a coin from precious metal you have to cut a blank from a sheet of metal. These are washed and dried ready for stamping with the coin design. Experts choose the best quality blanks for Proof coins, and the next best for Brilliant Uncirculated coins, with the rest becoming Bullion coins.
A Proof coin is the best quality of coin a refiner can produce. These are collectable coins and
usually produced as a commemorative item. They are limited in mintage and given a higher
value due to the large amount of manual work involved in the immaculate production process.
Proof coins are struck with hand-finished moulds called dies. These are etched by experts,
who carve the reverse image of the coin into them. A machine then strikes or stamps the blank
coin disc six times, imprinting a perfect image of the template.
The process is slow, and mints can only manage 50 proof coins per hour due to the amount of inspection and cleaning involved in producing a flawless coin.
Manufacturers, like Britain’s Royal Mint, sell these rare coins with a special gift box and certificate of authenticity, including the issue number to show how many of these proof coins have been made.
The next best coins are Brilliant Uncirculated. Coins of this calibre will often have the letters BU, B.U,
or B.UNC next to the product name, rather than explicitly saying that they are Brilliant Uncirculated.
These coins aren’t as mirror-finished as Proof coins, but they are exceptionally well struck for a crisp, detailed finish and a high sheen.
Mints use hand-finished dies to strikes these coins as well. They are struck twice, and the coin blanks are fed into the stamp by machine, rather than by hand. This speeds the process up to 100 coins per hour.
Brilliant Uncirculated coins can be presented in a gift box with certificate, but they can also come in protective plastic capsules. Always check the product information to be sure or contact the seller for additional details.
Bullion coins are the most common type of precious metal coin. They are mass-produced to be cost-effective and are valuable based on the weight of pure metal involved in their creation, rather than as
a collectable coin.
These coins offer a crisp, shiny finish. They are uncirculated and struck once during the minting process. Many of our coins come directly from The Royal Mint’s refinery in South Wales.
When buying bullion coins, you will receive yours in a plastic protective capsule. For larger orders
your coins will be sent in a tube of between 10 and 25 coins.
Which is the best coin?
All three of these coin standards are very similar. Bullion coins are the most cost-effective option, while proof and brilliant uncirculated offer a greater quality finish, but the designs are all the same regardless of the striking standard – as is the weight and purity of the coin.
As a buyer your question is how much money you are willing to spend. Bullion coins are the best value, but proof coins are the highest quality and rarest. Brilliant Uncirculated are a happy middle ground; uncommon and limited in production, but with extra work in their creation.
The simple guide is to not spend more than you are comfortable with. Investing in a rare collectable can be a good thing but research the coin or coins thoroughly before buying.