What are the Best Gold Coins to Buy and Why? From Kruggerands to Maple Leafs
By StoneX Bullion
If you’re looking to invest in gold coins, you’ve likely noticed the multitude of options available. From the Krugerrand to the American Gold Eagle, each coin has its own unique story and investment potential.
In this guide, we explore which are the best gold coins to buy and why. We’ll look at each coin’s individual history, characteristics, and why it stands out as a great choice for investors.
Note: When speaking about each of the below gold bullion coins, we’re referring to the 1 oz denomination (learn more about it here: Troy Ounce: Definition, History, and Conversion Table). 1 oz gold coins are the most popular size of bullion coin to invest in and also carry the lowest premiums. If you’re looking to buy gold coins, 1 oz is the best size to go for.
Top 9 best-selling international gold coins
When starting to invest in gold coins, we recommend you choose from the world’s top-selling gold coins. The iconic coins in this list are popular amongst both investors and collectors, recognized all over the world, easy to liquidate, easily identifiable, have top-notch security, and are known to represent some of the best mints on the globe.
Investing in any of these popular gold coins usually offers easy returns and means you won’t have any trouble selling them down the line. They’re always in demand and have stood the test of time for a reason. Let’s take a close look at each of these 9 best-selling gold coins in the world.
Manufacturer: South African Mint
History: First minted in 1967, the Gold Krugerrand stands out as one of the world’s oldest and most recognizable gold bullion coins. It became a quick favorite amongst gold investors and by 1980 accounted for more than 90% of the gold coin market.
The name ‘Krugerrand’ refers to Paul Kruger, South Africa’s first Boer president, and the country’s currency, the rand. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the Krugerrand was considered an illegal import as many countries imposed sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid government. This ban, coupled with the coin’s popularity, encouraged other gold-producing countries to start producing their own gold bullion coins.
Characteristics: A 1 oz Krugerrand gold coin is crafted from .9167 (22 karat) fine gold and alloyed with 8.3% copper for durability, blending quality with accessibility.
The obverse side of the coin features Paul Kruger’s profile, and the reverse displays the iconic springbok antelope, symbolic of South Africa.
Krugerrand coins are one of the best gold investment options, offering enduring value and widespread availability.
American Gold Eagle
Manufacturer: United States Mint
History: The American Gold Eagle is the official gold bullion coin of the United States, first introduced in 1986 following the Gold Bullion Coins Act of 1985. By law, the gold used to manufacture the American Gold Eagle must come from sources within the United States, and sales of the coin help pay off national debt.
Characteristics: American Eagle coins contain .9167 (22 karat) fine gold alloyed with silver and copper for added durability and scratch-resistance. Like other American bullion coins, the 1 oz American Eagle gold coin is considered legal tender with a face value of $50.
The obverse of the coin features a portrayal of Lady Liberty carrying a torch and an olive branch with the capitol building in the background. Until 2021, the reverse side featured a male eagle flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her hatchling. Since 2021, a new design features a close-up portrait of an eagle.
For gold investors, the American Gold Eagle offers a blend of historical significance, recognizable design, and high liquidity in the market.
Manufacturer: Austrian Mint
History: The Vienna Philharmonic, also known as Gold Phili or Philharmonic, is one of the world’s best-selling bullion coins. First introduced in 1989, the coin pays homage to the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and reflects the country’s rich musical legacy..
Just one year after its release, the Vienna Philharmonic was the most popular coin in Europe and second-best selling in the world. Since then, the World Gold Council has declared the Vienna Philharmonic as the best-selling gold coin in the world for several years.
When the euro currency was adopted in Austria in 2002, the 1 oz Vienna Philharmonic gold coin’s nominal value was changed to 100 euro. Today, it is the only gold bullion coin with a face value in euro, although it is only considered legal tender in Austria.
Characteristics: Austrian Philharmonic gold coins are one of the purest gold coins for investment with a fineness of 0.9999 (24 karat).
The design features a pipe organ in the Vienna Musikverein’s Golden Hall. On the reverse are various instruments from the Vienna Philharmonic, such as the harp, bassoon, violins, cello, and Vienna horn. Both sides of the coin were designed by Thomas Pesendorfer, chief engraver of the Austrian Mint.
The exquisite design of the Austrian Gold Philharmonic coin, coupled with its high purity level, makes it a prized possession for investors and collectors alike.
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf
Manufacturer: Royal Canadian Mint
History: First introduced in 1979, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf revolutionized the world of bullion coins when it became the first gold bullion coin to achieve .9999 purity level. This set a new standard for quality and the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf has since become a benchmark for purity in the industry. Today, it remains a staple in the global gold market, renowned for its exceptional purity and craftsmanship.
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is issued each year by the Government of Canada and the 1 oz Canadian Maple Leaf coin is considered legal tender with a face value of $50 Canadian dollars. Like other gold bullions, the coin’s market value varies depending on gold’s spot price.
Characteristics: Crafted with .9999 (24 karat) fine gold, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is amongst the purest in the world. The obverse features the profile of the late Queen Elizabeth II while the reverse displays the iconic Canadian maple leaf.
Security features were added to the coin in 2013 and 2015, enhancing its anti-counterfeit features. First, a laser micro-engraved maple leaf was added to the reverse side of the coin with a numeral denoting the coin’s year of issue (visible only under magnification). Next, radial lines were added to the background of both sides of the coin. These security features ensure authenticity and have enhanced its appeal to both investors and collectors.
For investors, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf offers a unique combination of purity, recognizability, and reliability. The coin has high status, and thanks to its stringent security measures, is an excellent choice for any investor looking for a gold coin with stability and quality.
Australian Gold Kangaroo (Australian Gold Nugget)
Manufacturer: Perth Mint
History: The Australian Gold Kangaroo, also known as the Australian Gold Nugget, made its debut in 1986. The first issue of the coin had unique features that immediately gave it an edge in the gold bullion market: one was a two-toned frosted effect and the other was that each coin came individually encapsulated in hard plastic, helping protect the coins from damage and preserving their resale value. This makes it easier for investors to store their gold safely. You can learn more by reading What is the Proper Way to Store Gold?
The Australian Gold Kangaroo stands out as one of the rare gold bullion coins to feature a new design each year. This makes each year’s coin a unique collectible piece that can raise its numismatic value above the actual gold content. In Australia, 1 oz Gold Kangaroo coin is considered legal tender with a face value of $100 AUD.
Characteristics: The Australian Gold Kangaroo is crafted from .9999 (24 karat) fine gold, making it amongst the purest in the world. Between 1986 to 1989, the reverse side of the coin featured different Australian gold nuggets while the obverse displayed a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Since 1989, each year’s issue of the coin showcases a different illustration of a kangaroo.
The Australian Gold Kangaroo is one of the purest gold coins available and its changing design makes it a unique collectible while maintaining its investment value.
Manufacturer: United Kingdom Royal Mint (FKA British Royal Mint)
History: The British Britannia coin, introduced in 1987, was the first European investment coin and holds a significant place in British numismatic history. Inspired by Britannia, the female personification of the British Isles, the coin’s history traces back to Roman times when Britannia was depicted as a symbol of protection and unity.
1 oz British Britannia gold coins have a face value of £100. They tend to come with lower premiums than other gold coins and are exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This makes them highly sought-after by new investors buying gold coins for the first time and anyone after a low-margin gold investment.
Characteristics: Until 2012, all coins had a fineness of 0.917 (22 karat) gold with the addition of copper or silver. Since 2013, all Britannia gold coins have 0.9999 (24 karat) fineness.
The obverse side of the Gold Britannia featured a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II until 2023, when King Charles III became the new monarch. The reverse side features Britannia, the female personification of Britain, wielding a trident and shield. Each year, the Britannia's design undergoes subtle variations that add collectible appeal to this investment.
As an investment option, the British Britannia offers a blend of historical significance, high purity, and a timeless design. Its widespread recognition makes it an excellent choice for investors looking for both historical appeal and investment value.
Chinese Gold Panda
Manufacturer: Official Mint of the People’s Republic of China
History: The Chinese Gold Panda coin, first minted in 1982, holds a unique place in the world of gold coins. It is one of the most popular gold bullion coins, known for its changing designs featuring the much-loved panda as well as its strictly limited mintage.
The coin features a different panda design each year, except 2001 and 2002, when China announced a freeze of the design. This means that 2002 Gold Panda coins are identical to 2001’s coins. This move upset collectors who prized the ever-changing design of the Gold Panda and, after enough protestation, the country reverted back to releasing new designs each year.
Chinese Gold Panda coins are produced by several different mints, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenyang. While they don’t carry mintmarks to identify their origin, minor variations in design can reveal the manufacturing mint.
The Chinese Gold Panda has a fineness of 0.999 (24 karat) gold, making it amongst the purest gold bullion coins in the world. A 1 oz Chinese Gold Panda coin has a face value of 500 Yuan.
Characteristics: Each year, the Chinese Gold Panda’s reverse side features a new portrayal of pandas in their natural habitat (with the exception of 2001 and 2002).
The obverse side displays the Hall of Prayer for Abundant Harvests, an iconic structure from Beijing's Temple of Heaven, in the center of the coin. Above it are Chinese characters saying 'Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo', meaning People’s Republic of China.
As an investment option, the Chinese Gold Panda offers cultural significance, limited mintage, and pure gold content. Because of its changing design, the coin has strong collectible appeal that adds to its strength as a precious metals investment.
American Buffalo (American Bison)
Manufacturer: United States Mint
History: The American Buffalo, also known as the American Bison, was released in 2006 and marked the first time the US Government minted pure 0.9999 (24 karat) gold coins for the public. Its immediate popularity, coupled with the increasing price of gold, has led the coin’s value to increase dramatically since its initial release. A 1 oz American Buffalo gold coin has a face value of $50.
Characteristics: Inspired by the historic Indian Head nickel designed by James Earle Fraser in 1913, the obverse of the American Gold Buffalo coin depicts a portrait of a Native American chief. The word LIBERTY is featured on the top right of the coin with the year of mintage on the bottom left.
The reverse side of the coin shows a beloved American buffalo, Black Diamond, who was housed in the Central Park Zoo in the 1900s. Above its lower back is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM (out of many, one).
The American Buffalo coin's association with the iconic Indian Head nickel and status as the purest American gold coin makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a coin with historical significance and investment value.
Why buy these gold coins?
The gold coins mentioned in this article are noted as the best gold coins to buy for several reasons:
- Demand is high so they’re easy to sell
- It’s easy to prove their authenticity compared to rarer coins
- Mints usually add extra security features to avoid counterfeits
- Premiums are usually the lowest, making their price close to the spot price of gold.
Of course, gold coins are just one way you can invest in gold bullion. Gold bars are another popular option amongst investors. To dive deeper into which is the best choice for you, learn more about the Pros and Cons of Buying Gold Bars vs Gold Coins.
How to spot fake gold coins
An unfortunate side effect of these coins’ popularity is the widespread availability of fakes and counterfeit coins designed to deceive investors. Fake gold coins are usually a replica of the renowned coins in this article, however they’ll often use lower-purity gold while charging the same price. This means investors will be losing money on an asset that’s less valuable than they originally thought.
To protect yourself when investing in gold bullion coins, it’s important to learn How to Spot Fake Gold Coins and Avoid Fraud. Below are a few ways you can do this:
- Test your coin's size and weight: Gold coins are made according to strict standards governing their weight and dimensions. You can determine whether your coin is fake by checking its size and weight against the standard for its coin type.
- Magnet test: Unlike many other metals, gold is not magnetic and will not stick to magnets. If your gold coin is drawn to a magnet it may contain other metals and be lower purity.
- Check hallmarks: Many gold coins have hallmarks engraved on their surface that indicate purity levels, weight, and mintmarks. Check your gold coin for hallmarks with a magnifying glass. While you're at it, look for any discoloration or spots.
- Vinegar test: Gold is a non-reactive metal that won't tarnish when it comes in contact with vinegar. Rub a small amount of vinegar on your gold coin. If it changes color then it's not made from pure gold and may be fake.
- Use a reputable source: The best way to avoid gold coin fraud is by buying gold coins from a reputable dealer with a solid track record of selling high quality, pure gold coins.
Secure your legacy with timeless gold coins
From the iconic Krugerrand to the best-selling Vienna Philharmonic, each coin we’ve explored has a unique blend of heritage, purity, and investment potential. Ready to secure your legacy? Start building your portfolio with timeless gold coins from our collection.
At StoneX Bullion you can be confident you’re always shopping at the most current gold spot price rate, with prices automatically updated every minute. We only use trusted shipping companies and securely package and insure all orders, so safe delivery is a given. Explore our range or get in touch with our team for advice on the best gold coin for your investment portfolio.