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How Does PCGS Certify Gold Coins?

For an investor in rare gold coins, the work of the Professional Coin Grade Service is invaluable for accurately determining their quality and providing an idea of how much they may be worth. The important part of appreciating the value of the service is understanding what it is and how the PCGS certifies coins.

Once a coin arrives at PCGS, it is logged in and examined for authenticity. Counterfeit coins are a growing problem; several tests are performed to determine authenticity and if the coin is identified as a fake, the company will not grade it and returns it to the owner.

After the coin is approved as authentic, the inspection begins in order to identify any unusual problems that can affect the value of the coin. These problems include: excessive cleaning, dents or other surface damage, PVC or other chemical surface problems, major scratches, artificial toning or any other unusual features. Coins that fall into these categories are noted, likely refused for grading and returned to the owner with an explanation.

Once the inspection is complete, each coin is then reviewed by two or more PCGS experts to determine the grade of the coin. The experts will first determine in which of the seven categories the coin resides: Poor, Good, Very Good, Fine, Extra Fine, About Uncirculated or Mint State. Each of these categories is based on the overall condition of the coin and if there are any visible flaws such as scratches and wear from being circulated, color changes from skin oils after being handled and more.

Once a coin is assigned to a category, it is then rated within that category with a numerical grade. An MS-70 coin is perfect, while a P-1 would be the lowest rating for a piece the experts determine was once a coin but now has little or no distinguishing features. Two or more experts will individually review the coin and a consensus will be reached about its quality.

After review, a rating and identification label is created and the coin is placed in a sonically sealed case. Because the review process is so thorough, coins sealed in this tamper-proof case maintain their rating and will be accepted years later.

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