If you ask 10 investors’ opinions about certified gold coins, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. “They’re the greatest investment in the world!” “Those are for collectors, not investors.” “Those coins are so much more expensive than bullion, how could you ever make a profit?” “Gold brokers promote those coins to raise commissions.” Is there any absolute truth, whether good or bad, to the certifying of gold coins?
Up until the 1970s the gold coin market was somewhat like the Wild West. Coin dealers used the Sheldon scale of 0-70 but a coin’s grade could change depending on the numismatist who examined the coin. An investor could buy what he was told was an MS64 coin only to sell the same coin at the price of an MS62, because that’s what the buying numismatist claimed the coin to be. The creation of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) gave the market some guidelines.
Gold coin certification is for verified rarities. Certifying a brand new American Eagle gold coin or a “5-nines” gold Maple Leaf isn’t going to do much for the coin’s value, because as a brand new coin it is expected to be in excellent condition.
If you simply want to verify that a coin is really made of gold there are easier and more cost-effective ways of doing so than by submitting the coin to PCGS or NGC. Gold coin certification is necessary if you hold what you believe to be a pre-1933, U.S.-made gold coin that is in extremely good condition, extremely rare, or both. These are the most popular and historically profitable certified gold coins. Other coins may need to be certified by collectors but as an investor the 1847-1932 U.S. gold coins are the ones you want to put in your safe only if they have been certified as authentic and in Mint State condition by either PCGS or NGC.