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Gold Purity Explained: What is Fine Gold? 

Fine gold bar

Fine gold refers to gold of exceptional purity, typically measured in terms of its fineness or purity level. In the realm of precious metals, “fine gold” denotes gold nearly or completely devoid of impurities. The term is often used to describe gold with a purity level of 90 percent or higher, meaning it contains only trace amounts of other metals or elements. 90 percent is not common in modern coins.

Fine gold is highly sought for its intrinsic value and is commonly used in various applications, including jewelry making, bullion production, and a store of value. Its purity is often certified by reputable assay offices or mints, assuring investors and consumers.  

Fine gold is a special allure for investors and collectors due to its purity and rarity, making it a cornerstone asset in precious metals investing. 

Fine Gold Numerical Gradings 

Fine gold is labeled with numerical grades. For example, 999 or .999 represents gold with 99.9% purity. This is commonly called 24-karat gold; however, achieving 100% purity outside a lab is challenging and rarely is attempted.   

  • .9999 or 99.99% Pure Gold: .9999 often called “four nines.” Examples of .9999 bullion coins include the American Buffalo and Canadian Gold Maple Leaf.   
  • .999 or 99.9% Pure Gold: .999 or “three nines.” A couple of examples include the Mexican Gold Libertad and Chinese Gold Pandas. 
  • .995 or 99.5% Pure Gold: An example of this includes Valcambi’s kilo gold bar. This is the minimum fineness required to be considered for the LBMA Good Delivery List.   
  • .99 or 99% Pure Gold: Two nine gold is not common, but it is still considered to be fine gold. 
  • .986 or 98.6% Pure Gold: It is not commonly used but may be found in Austria and Hungry. Venetian and Holy Roman Empire mints once employed this level of purity. 
  • .9167 or 91.67% Pure Gold: This level of purity is quite common. American Gold Eagles, British Sovereigns, and South African Krugerrands are 91.67 percent pure. 
  • .900 or 90% Pure Gold: This gold is 90 percent pure and the lowest level to be considered “fine.” .900 coins include the French and Swiss Napoleon coin 20 francs. 

If you are looking to buy gold for investment purposes, you should consider buying the highest grade that you can reasonably afford. 

Gold Fineness in Jewelry 

Fineness in jewelry is often related in terms of carats or karats. Gold jewelry may be 10K, 14K, 18K, or 22K. Jewelry cannot be 100 percent gold since pure gold is too soft for practical use.  While investment jewelry is available, it is not usually considered a money-making investment. When buying gold jewelry, consider how you intend to use the item when reviewing fineness levels. 

Gold Conversions from Karats to Percentage 

  • 10 Karats equals 41.67 percent. 
  • 14 Karats equals 18.66 percent. 
  • 18 Karats equals 75 percent. 
  • 22 Karats equals 91.67 percent. 
  • 24 Karats equals 99.9 or 99.5 percent.

Whether you are purchasing gold for investment, collecting, or jewelry, it is important to make sure that the gold purity matches your expectations. 


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