Metals Investing Glossary S-Z

Glossary Sections:   A-D  |  E-H  |  I-N  |  O-R  |  S-Z



Safe Haven

Typically a place of safety or calm harbor for investors during periods of financial uncertainty, economic crisis and currency collapse. Many investors see gold bullion as a safe haven investment as gold prices typically rise when stocks and currencies fall.

Sheldon Scale

In 1948, a well-known numismatist called Dr. William Herbert Sheldon attempted to standardize coin grading by proposing what is now known as the Sheldon Scale. The scale was originally devised specifically for United States large cents, but it is now applied to all series and runs from 0 to 70, where 0 means a disc of metal may once have been a coin and 70 means that it is perfect.

Short Sale

The sale of an asset for future delivery without actual possession of the sold asset.

Silver Bug

Like a gold bug, but cheaper. Silver bugs rightly feel silver is undervalued against gold and when the gold/silver ratio reverts to it’s norm, silver prices will rise.

Silver Eagles

Popular 1oz silver bullion coins minted in U.S. and legal tender. See Gold Eagles.

Silver Institute

A nonprofit international association drawing its membership from every aspect of the silver industry.

Slabbed coins

Coins encapsulated in plastic as a means of protection against wear. Typically a slabbed coin has been graded and certified by one of the two major U.S. grading services, NGC and PGCS.


Popular UK minted gold coin. Named after the English gold sovereign, last minted in 1604, the name was revived during the “Great Recoinage” of 1816. Minting of these new sovereigns started in 1817, with the gold content being fixed by the coin act of 1816 at 1320/5607 (0.235420) troy ounces (7.322381 g), nearly equivalent to 113 grains. This equates to a fineness of 916?.

Sound Money

Also commonly referred to as hard money, honest money or commodity money. Sound money is a currency fully backed by a tangible commodity such as gold and silver. As of 2013, sound money no longer exists.

Spot (precious metals)

The price for physical delivery of bullion, based on 100oz bars for gold or platinum and 1,000oz bars of silver – although the spot price is used to calculate value of all precious metal transactions no matter what size.

Spot Market

A commodity market where delivery and payment need to be made within two working days of the transaction date.


The difference between the buying price and the selling price of an asset, commodity or financial instrument.

Standard Ounce

Defined as a troy ounce of 22 carat gold, 91.66% pure, .9166 fine.

Store of Value

A store of value is typically an asset or commodity with intrinsic value, that is capable of being stored for time. Gold is one of the best known stores of value

Symbolic Face Value

The nominal value given to legal tender coins sold for their metal content, with the face value bearing little relation to the coin’s true value.



An Indian unit of weight equal to 180 grains or 0.375 troy ounce. It was the base unit of mass in the British Indian system of weights and measures introduced in 1833, although had been in use long before this.

Tola Bars

Gold bars which are measured in tolas. Tola bars are usually manufactured in Europe, but traded mostly across the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Singapore. The most popular tola bar is the 10 tola cast bar, weighing 3.75 troy oz.

Troy Ounce

A unit of weight most commonly used in the field of precious metals. One troy ounce equals 31.1035g, 480 grains, or 1.09711 regular (avoirdupois) oz.



An asset which is still the property of the holding bank, and so carries counter-party risk. Unallocated assets are not protected from the insolvency of the bank, ie the owner of the unallocated asset would be an unsecured creditor.


A coin in new condition. In the UK this may be called Brilliant Uncirculated or BU, whilst in the U.S. the term is Mint State or MS.



An option attached to a bond issue which is designed to give the holder a more leveraged (and so riskier) exposure to the underlying commodity.

Weak hands

Investors and traders who are shaken from their investment positions in periods of short term volatility, minor market corrections and price drops. Weak hands typically miss market highs.

World Gold Council (WGC)

The World Gold Council is the market development organization for the gold industry. Based in the UK, the World Gold Council’s 23 members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies.

Writer, grantor

Alternative terms for the seller of an option.



The ISO code for spot gold.



A measure of the annual return on an investment expressed as a percentage.