Investing in physical precious metals like gold and silver can provide portfolio diversification, inflation hedging, and stability as part of a balanced investment strategy. Gold and silver coins in particular offer investors a tangible asset to own. But with so many coin options, how do investors know which are the best gold and silver coins to buy for their portfolio?
In this guide, we’ll review the top 10 gold and silver coins that make smart choices for precious metals investing. We’ll cover popular coins from mints around the world, diving into details on purity, pricing, availability, and more to determine which ones deliver the best combination of value, liquidity, and recognizability.
Discover the stand-out gold and silver coins that should be at the top of any investor’s shopping list when building precious metals exposure.
1. American Gold Eagle
The American Gold Eagle is hands-down the most widely traded and owned gold coin investment worldwide. First issued in 1986, Gold Eagles are the official gold bullion coin of the United States. These attractive coins contain gold mined directly in the USA and offer investors:
- 22 karat gold purity (91.67%)
- Guaranteed weight and gold content
- Legal-tender status
- Four sizes (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz)
- $50, $25, $10, $5 legal tender face values
- Capital gains tax treatment
- Recognizability being made by the U.S. Mint
The 1 oz American Gold Eagle is the most popular size, giving investors an affordable option to buy a single full ounce coin. The smaller sizes allow for gradual investing.
Gold Eagles are exempt from VAT sales tax in Europe, making them wise purchases for international buyers as well. With the stability and credibility of the U.S. Mint behind Gold Eagles, investors around the globe flock to this gold coin more than any other.
Gold Eagles are easy to buy and sell in any market condition, giving owners excellent liquidity. They frequently have the lowest premium cost over the live gold spot price, saving investors money. When it’s time to sell, you’ll have no trouble finding eager buyers for American Gold Eagles.
With beautiful patriotic designs, substantial gold content, and U.S. Mint backing, the American Gold Eagle is the gold coin investment owners can count on long-term.
2. American Silver Eagle
The American Silver Eagle coin is the world’s leading silver investment coin bar none. As the official silver bullion coin of the U.S., Silver Eagles are a staple holding for investors wanting exposure to the white metal. Here’s what makes Silver Eagles so attractive:
- 1 troy ounce .999 pure silver content
- Legal-tender value of $1 USD
- Iconic Walking Liberty design
- Produced by the U.S. Mint since 1986
- Most widely traded silver coin globally
- Highly liquid in any market condition
- Capital gains tax advantage
- IRA-approved silver coin
- Exceptional beauty and display appeal
With one full troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver in each coin, the American Silver Eagle gives investors a straightforward way to own .999 fine physical silver. The U.S. Mint’s stamp serves as a guarantee of weight and purity.
Silver Eagles boast unparalleled liquidity, making them easy to sell whenever the time is right. Their popularity also keeps premiums lower relative to other coins. No silver coin compares to the American Silver Eagle in terms of reputation and marketability.
From short-term traders to buy-and-hold investors, American Silver Eagles are the go-to choice for gaining exposure to silver. They’ll remain the benchmark global silver coin for years to come.
3. Canadian Gold Maple Leaf
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf stands out as a highly attractive gold coin recognized around the world. First minted in 1979, Gold Maple Leafs pioneered new security features like light diffracting design elements and precision radial lines.
Key benefits of the Gold Maple include:
- .9999 pure 24 karat gold content
- Iconic maple leaf design
- Available in 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz sizes
- $50, $20, $10, $5 CAD legal tender face values
- Eligible for precious metals IRAs
- Difficult to counterfeit due to security features
- Tax-free bullion status in Canada
- Established credibility as Canada’s gold coin since 1979
.9999 purity gives Gold Maple Leafs heightened appeal to investors wanting coins with maximum gold content. The iconic maple leaf design is recognized around the world.
While premiums are slightly higher than American Gold Eagles, Gold Maple Leafs remain top-selling global gold coins with strong liquidity. They diversify any precious metals portfolio with Canadian .9999 gold content.
4. American Silver Eagle – Proof
The proof version of the American Silver Eagle offers investors a more collectible take on the U.S. Mint’s flagship silver coin with enhanced display visuals. Key features include:
- 1 troy ounce .999 pure silver like regular Silver Eagles
- Pairs a reflective proof finish with frosted relief
- Strict production limits for exclusivity
- Each coin is meticulously struck multiple times
- Comes in deluxe presentation case and packaging
- Includes Certificate of Authenticity
- Higher collectibility sweetens resale potential
Proof Silver Eagle coins cost slightly more than regular uncirculated versions. However, the proof finish is visually stunning and aimed at collectors. Those wanting an elevated version of the classic Silver Eagle will appreciate the painstaking craftsmanship of each proof coin.
Proof Silver Eagles blend investment-grade silver value with artful collectibility. Their limited mintages make these proof coins more exclusive keepsakes.
5. South African Gold Krugerrand
The South African Gold Krugerrand holds a unique place in gold coin history as the trailblazer. Launched in 1967, the Gold Krugerrand became the first modern gold bullion coin available for individual investment. More than 50 million have been produced.
Key features of the Gold Krugerrand that appeal to buyers include:
- 1 troy ounce gold content (.9167 pure gold)
- Iconic springbok antelope design
- No face value – bullion coin only
- Most affordable major gold coin option
- Highly liquid with active global trading
- Name recognition as pioneering gold coin
With the lowest premium cost over spot gold prices, Krugerrands offer investors the most ounces of gold for their dollar. The Gold Krugerrand remains a popular coin with collectors and gold enthusiasts, carrying strong demand despite its lower gold purity than more modern coins.
There’s no more affordable way to buy a single one ounce gold coin than the venerable Gold Krugerrand. They’re a budget-friendly route for first-time gold buyers to own recognizable legal-tender gold coins.
6. Canadian Silver Maple Leaf
The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf continues Canada’s reputation for producing investor-friendly bullion coins. Issued every year since 1988, Silver Maple Leafs are .9999 pure silver with iconic maple leaf imagery.
Here’s what gives Silver Maple Leafs global appeal:
- 1 troy ounce .9999 pure silver content
- Legal tender value of $5 CAD backed by the Canadian gov’t
- Beautiful maple leaf design with security features
- Gain tax-free capital gains when sold in Canada
- IRA-approved for precious metals IRAs
- Robust trading volume makes buying/selling easy
- Low premium over spot silver prices
For investors who want coins meeting the highest .9999 purity standard, Silver Maple Leafs deliver that purity along with liquidity and aesthetic beauty. The do have slightly higher premiums than Silver Eagles, but carry government backing and tax advantages for Canadian buyers.
Given their capabilities as legal-tender pure silver coins, Silver Maple Leafs rate among the world’s best silver coins for investors.
7. Austrian Philharmonic Gold & Silver Coins
Austria’s Philharmonic gold and silver coins provide investors with a touch of Old World refinement. Featuring orchestral instruments and elegant design, Philharmonics have savvy metal composition:
- 1 troy ounce .9999 pure gold
- Face value of €100 backed by Austria
- 1 troy ounce .9999 pure silver
- Face value of €1.50 backed by Austria
Philharmonics became available to investors in 2008. Despite being relative newcomers, they’ve become some of the most widely held bullion coins behind Eagles and Maple Leafs. Investors appreciate their .9999 purity and liquidity.
Premiums on Philharmonics sit slightly above sovereign coins, but resale demand typically recoups the extra cost. For portfolio diversification into the eurozone, Gold and Silver Philharmonics are appealing legal-tender choices.
8. Chinese Gold Panda
In 1982, China struck its first Gold Pandas – ushering these coins into the investment spotlight. Their unique blend of investment purity and Oriental art fuels demand.
Here’s what distinguishes Chinese Gold Pandas:
- .999 pure gold composition
- Issued in sizes from 1 oz down to 1/20 oz
- Features a new panda design each year
- Mintage of only 30,000 for each size
- Face value of 100 Yuan, backed by China’s central bank
- .999 gold purity enhances collectibility
- Gain exposure to Asia’s precious metals market
With their shrinking mintages and iconic panda motif, Gold Pandas appeal to bullion buyers and coin collectors alike. The annual change in panda design provides interest for collectors.
Gold Pandas do have higher premiums given their collector demand. However, they diversify any international gold coin holdings with their unique Asian origins and government backing.
9. Mexican Libertad
Mexico’s Libertad coins have the distinction of being the oldest current government-issued silver bullion coins – struck since 1982.Libertads offer investors:
- 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz sizes
- Iconic Winged Victory angel design
- .999 pure silver content
- High relief 3D sculpting for visual appeal
- Mintages as low as 300,000 (very low for silver)
- IRA approval for investment purposes
- Veinte pesos legal tender face value
Beyond their investment silver value, Libertads have sought-after collectibility – especially earlier dates with lower mintage figures. The visually striking Winged Angel design further enhances their appeal.
While not as widely traded as sovereign coins, Libertads attract buyers looking to diversify into Mexican .999 silver. Their collectibility can drive premiums higher, but imparts added potential value at resale.
10. American Gold Buffalo
Completing our top 10 is the American Gold Buffalo – the U.S. Mint’s .9999 fine gold coin play. Introduced in 2006, the Gold Buffalo answers demand for a 24 karat American coin.
Key features include:
- 1 troy ounce .9999 pure gold content
- $50 USD legal tender face value
- ‘American Buffalo’ design based on 1913 nickels
- IRA approval for U.S. gold coins
- Produced by the recognized U.S. Mint
- Limited annual mintage around 300,000 coins
- Attractive collectible and bullion appeal
.9999 purity gives Gold Buffalos an advantage when competing with classic 22 karat coins. The Gold Buffalo’s iconic design further elevates its appeal.
Premiums are higher than Eagles. However, Gold Buffalos diversify any gold holdings with a patriotic American .9999 fine coin.
Gold vs Silver Coins for Investment
Should you choose gold or silver coins for precious metals investing? The merits of each metal:
Benefits of Gold Coins
- Higher per-ounce value creates smaller position sizes
- Limited annual supply keeps values more stable
- Coins like Eagles and Maple Leafs have strong liquidity
- .9999 gold coins appeal to high-end investors
- Governments back legal-tender gold coins
Benefits of Silver Coins
- Lower per-ounce cost allows larger holdings
- Greater volatility creates more upside potential
- Essential industrial metal sees steady commercial demand
- More total coins minted creates high availability
- Pure .999+ silver has collectibility factor
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and goals. Here are some guidelines for deciding between gold vs silver coin investing:
- Both – Want well-rounded exposure? Invest in top gold AND silver coins.
- Wealth preservation – Gold may be better suited for conservative holdings.
- Growth potential – Silver’s higher volatility could provide greater upside.
- Budget choice – Silver coins allow larger positions per dollar invested.
- High purity – Gold has more .9999 one-ounce options for purity play.
- Collectibility – Both offer select numismatic and proof releases.
Unless restricted by budget, holding both gold and silver coins in your portfolio is wise. Focus on the most liquid bullion options – Eagles, Maple Leafs, etc – buying across gold and silver. Then complement those with collector coins like Pandas for added interest. Use a ratio that matches your objectives, such as 60% gold to 40% silver.
Top Tips for Investing in Gold and Silver Coins
Here are final tips when investing in physical gold and silver coins:
- Buy from reputable dealers – Established dealers ensure authenticity and fair pricing.
- Compare premiums – Pay attention to premium markups over the melt value.
- Focus on liquidity – Favor legal-tender coins with strong trading volume.
- Consider IRA investing – Top coins like Eagles and Maple Leafs are IRA-approved.
- Re-sell through dealers – They’ll pay fairer prices than pawn shops and minimize hassle.
- Evaluate collectibility – Numismatic value can provide a bonus, but adds risk.
- Don’t overpay – Stick with modest premiums over spot prices for bullion coins.
- Store securely – Keep coins protected in a home safe, safety deposit box, or vault.
- Understand taxes – Precious metals have different tax treatment than stocks/bonds.
By picking among the most liquid and widely traded sovereign gold and silver coins, investors build a core holding that balances value, purity, and marketability.
Buying Gold and Silver Coins On a Budget
Physical gold and silver coins don’t have to blow up your budget. Here are ways to invest in top gold and silver coins on a conservative budget:
- Buy fractional coin sizes – Gold Eagles and Maple Leafs come in 1/10 oz sizes.
- Start with silver – Most 1 oz silver coins cost $20-$30, more affordable than gold.
- Choose pre-owned coins – Buy from reputable dealers for a lower premium.
- Buy bars – Silver and gold bars have lower markups than coins in small sizes.
- Look for sales/specials – Black Friday, holidays, etc can bring discounted pricing.
- Buy certified lots – Bulk 20-50 coin lots can translate to volume savings.
- Sell other assets – Sell unused jewelry, electronics, etc for extra cash to buy coins
- Partner with family – Pool resources with trusted relatives to buy larger holdings.
- Buy annually – Make a tradition of buying a 1 oz silver coin each year as a gift.
With some savvy buying, investors on even modest budgets can steadily accumulate coins for their portfolio over time.
With a rich diversity of gold and silver coins available worldwide, how do investors narrow down the options? Focus on highly liquid sovereign coins like the American Gold Eagle, American Silver Eagle, Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, and South African Krugerrand in gold, paired with the American Silver Eagle, Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, and Austrian Silver Philharmonic for silver.
These legal-tender gold and silver coins produced by government mints offer investors excellent purity, reputation, availability, and resale value. Pair them with selectively added numismatic coins for added interest. And consider holding both gold and silver coins to diversify your precious metals investments across both metals.
Owning physical gold and silver bullion coins puts tangible assets in your hands while offering inflation and market hedging. Choose wisely among the top gold and silver coins, buy from trusted sources, and re-sell through established dealers to maximize the value of your holdings. Gold and silver coins can provide stable returns when integrated as part of a long-term investment strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some common questions investors have about purchasing gold and silver coins:
How is the gold spot price determined?
The gold spot price is determined by the markets based on supply and demand fundamentals, just like any other traded commodity. Gold trades on various exchanges and OTC markets around the world, with the COMEX gold futures exchange having the largest influence. The real-time equilibrium where gold supply (mining, central bank selling) meets current demand from buyers and speculators forms the prevailing international gold spot price. It moves fluidly throughout the trading day based on market activity across global exchanges.
Which gold coin has the lowest premium?
The South African Gold Krugerrand generally has the lowest premium over spot gold prices among popular one ounce gold coins. Krugerrands feature 22 karat gold content (.9167 purity) without a face value, minimizing the fabrication costs. This allows dealers to charge lower percentage premium markups. Gold Krugerrands frequently trade closer to the melt value of gold than alternatives like the American Gold Eagle. Over the long run, the Gold Krugerrand’s lower premium can make it one of the most affordable ways to buy a recognizable one ounce gold coin with strong liquidity.
Do rare gold coins hold value better?
In general, no – bullion gold coins actually hold value better relative to spot gold prices than rare collectible gold coins. Coins that trade based on their metallic gold value tend to track gold prices closely over time. Rare gold coins add a numismatic premium on top of gold value that fluctuates more on collector trends. This numismatic component adds risk and volatility. Unless you have specialized collectible coin expertise, rare gold coins are riskier holdings compared to common bullion gold coins like Eagles and Maples. Those mainstream coins derive value directly from gold content.
Is buying silver coins a good investment?
Buying physical silver coins can indeed be a good investment as part of a diversified portfolio. Silver often outperforms gold during precious metals bull markets, giving it strong upside potential. And since silver has a lower per-ounce price, investors can buy silver coins in larger quantities to build substantial holdings. Popular one ounce coins like the American Silver Eagle provide an easy way to own familiar .999 fine silver. Reputable bullion-grade silver coins have intrinsic value tied to the silver spot price, making them less risky than numismatic silver coins valued based on collectibility. Stick with widely traded options like Silver Eagles to maximize liquidity.
Which country silver coin is the best investment?
For investors focused on getting the most intrinsic silver value, the American Silver Eagle is likely the best country silver coin investment. Silver Eagles contain one full troy ounce of .999 pure silver with a $1 legal tender face value backed by the U.S. government. Plus, Silver Eagles are the most widely traded silver coin in the world, giving owners excellent liquidity. The combination of 1 oz pure silver content plus unparalleled marketability makes the Silver Eagle the safest silver coin investment with the highest resale value. While other world coins may appreciate faster at times if they become trendy collectibles, Silver Eagles consistently track underlying silver prices across market conditions.
Can you lose money investing in silver?
Yes, you certainly can lose money investing in silver just like any asset. Silver prices fluctuate daily, and have both bull and bear market cycles medium-to-long term. There is no guarantee you will be able to sell silver for more than you paid at any given time. Physical silver can potentially become less sought after compared to other assets as well, putting downward risk on prices. Numismatic silver coins that carry high premiums are even riskier, since collectors could move on to other interests, causing the premiums to deteriorate. While holding silver long-term helps minimize timing risks, there is always market risk when buying silver that could result in losing money. Investors should build prudent positions relative to their risk tolerance knowing silver prices aren’t assured winners.