Example: https://www.royalmint.com/invest/bullion/bullion-coins/gold-coins/double-sovereign-2021-gold-bullion-coin/

I've tried my best to look up and translate what a "bullion" is, or "gold bullion", but I only find references to gold bars.

That coin on the webpage looks nothing like gold to me. It looks like some cheap copper coin. It's not yellowish -- it's bleak "pinkish", like a near-worthless normal coin.

If it's indeed gold, why does it look like that? And who would want a golden coin which doesn't look like gold?

  • I'm not sure if the line about bullion is a distraction from the main question. Are you interested in what bullion is here, or is that more of a separate question?
    – Upper_Case
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:29
  • @Upper_Case It seems like the same question to me. Mar 2, 2021 at 19:30
  • 2
    Could you rephrase the question to be related to personal finances? As-is, it seems more like a question about gold aesthetics than anything else.
    – BobbyScon
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:31
  • 1
    Bullion is more a category of precious metal, which can be ingots, bars, special coins (or rounds, in the US). "What is bullion?" is not the same question as "why does this coin not look yellow, like I expect gold to look?". It seems that you want the second question answered, but I'm not sure.
    – Upper_Case
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:31
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because questions about metalurgy belong on physics.SE.
    – RonJohn
    Mar 2, 2021 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


The gold sovereign is a 22 carat rose gold coin, meaning that it is composed of 22/24 parts gold and 2/24 parts copper. The small percentage of copper affects two things; the color of the alloy and the hardness of the metal.

Some people prefer the color of rose gold to normal. For evidence of this, google the terms 'rose gold jewelry' or 'rose gold watch' and observe the millions of results you get.

Rose Gold

However, that's not the reason this coin has copper added.

Gold sovereigns have been produced by the British government since 1817, over 200 years ago. When they were introduced, they were normal, circulating coins that wealthy people would carry with them and spend in day to day business. Although gold was very valuable back then, it was not as comparatively valuable as it is today. It is a bad idea to make a circulating coin out of pure 24 carat gold, as gold is a very soft metal and it would scratch, scrape, or even bend within days of using it. Mixing gold with another metal greatly improves its hardness and durability. Additionally, the metal refining technology back then was not good enough to remove all of the impurities anyway.

Today, the sovereigns are still manufactured with the same percentage of copper that they always have, but since most people who own gold coins do not carry them with them on their day-to-day business, you can also find many pure 24 carat gold options that are the yellow color you are looking for. From the British government, the gold Britannia fits this description.

Gold Brittania

Finally, bullion coins and bars are stores of precious metal such that the value of the object is determined by its metal composition. This is to distinguish them from fiat coins where the value is determined by the number stamped onto them by the issuing government. For example, although a US penny is composed of zinc and copper, the value of the penny is always one cent, even if the prices of zinc and copper fluctuate. Bullion coins are worth whatever the metal within them is worth, and you can find bullion of many different metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

In the EU (yes I know the UK is technically no longer in the EU) regulations specify that bullion bars need to have a minimum of 99.5% purity, but coins only need 90% purity to be considered bullion. This is due to the history of minting 22 carat coins to strengthen their durability.

  • Just for interest, gold can be alloyed to produce a number of different colors. For instance white gold (actually silvery), bluish or purplish tints, and more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colored_gold
    – jamesqf
    Mar 3, 2021 at 4:45
  • so you basically took my answer... did you also give me a downvote?
    – blankip
    Mar 3, 2021 at 22:26
  1. "bullion" simply means "pure gold", so .9999

  2. You can in fact see the three common types of bullion in this convenient answer:


  1. The coin you reference is NOT bullion, it is 22 carat. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not "normal gold bullion". (Get more details by reading the Fine Answer linked just above.)

  2. Color of the photo - the color of that photo is irrelevant, it's just a bad photo. It's totally irrelevant. (Actually one mysterious quality of gold is, indeed, that it is very hard to photograph. So there.)

  3. The actual color of 22 carat gold. Coins like Kruggerands and this one which are not bullion, but rather are 22 carat, do indeed have a different color in real life. They're sort of fake looking. Some are indeed "tinted" in various colors, note that the wise commentor @BobbyScon mentions this. True LBMA bullion bars have a sort of .. deep, hard to put your finger on, death-like, life-like, look, and the color changes drastically in different lighting. 22 carat coins such as Kruggerands actually look a bit brighter than pure gold metal. Anyway you can easily see for yourself by going in to a shop. Note too that - of course - like anything - bars, coins, chain etc of all types get dirty, scuffed, etc - no big deal.

If it's indeed gold, why does it look like that?

Nothing to worry about, it's just a crap photo. There's nothing more to it than that.

You can easily look-up a million pictures of Kruggerands and other 22 carat coins. Note though that you have to go look in person to see what real bullion (or indeed 22 carat) looks like.

And who would want a golden coin which doesn't look like gold?

People are [ censored ] idiots.



that coin IS NOT an ounce of gold. It is "0.47" or some such ounces of actual bullion.

Getting back to personal finance, do NOT invest in these (even if you do wish to invest in gold) because the spread would be garbage.

At any gold dealer on the streets of Zurich, the guy would just say "novelty" and you'd get WAY below the price of the gold atoms in it. (And they'd likely just melt it with the other brooches, etc, they bought that day.)

if you do want to buy gold at the one-ounce level, simply buy the extremely well-known, incredibly demanded one-ounce pure-gold ("bullion") rounds, which are universally in demand worldwide at all times, as outlined in the above twice-mentioned natty answer.

Things to do here:

  1. Realize how smart you are

  2. Realize how incredibly dumb and uninformed a very large percentage of the population is

and then,

  1. Realize that due to point (2), you can make an incredible amount of money marketing crap. I mean like, just truckloads. I encourage you to do this.
  • I agree with a lot of your points but the coin is mixed with copper - you should be able to eyeball that. But you wrote a lot that doesn't give the answer... yea the coin is junk and at the very best won't garner ROI of purer gold.
    – blankip
    Mar 2, 2021 at 20:15
  • 1
    Bullion does not mean pure, and it does not mean gold. It just refers to stores of precious metals for the purpose of owning that metal. You can get bullion coins of silver, platinum, palladium, any metal you want really. The most common bullion coin for many years was the South African Krugerrand which is only 91.67% gold.
    – Brady Gilg
    Mar 2, 2021 at 22:18

Just by looking at it you can tell it is gold mixed with copper. I notice the copper hue right away. Almost striking how much the copper takes over when it is probably about 5% of the alloy. I find it remarkable that it is more marketable to sell this than a purer type of gold but I will say that "gold" chips are not how you think they would be - they are heavy and soft and scratch quite easily. Also they are not that "gold" shiny color unless they have a good polish on them.

Scrooge McDuck must have had so much money that he could get his gold polished weekly in his money pit.

enter image description here

If you want to pay about a 10% add-on charge to the price of gold to make your coin look more worthy of the money pit follow this link - https://www.nzmint.com/products/disney-scrooge-mcduck-1oz-gold-bullion-coin

enter image description here

  • I LOVE that round (I don't have one but it looks epic) Incredibly it has H.M. ER2 on obverse - bravo.
    – Fattie
    Mar 2, 2021 at 21:02
  • Interestingly "rose" gold is made with a bit of copper as wise Blankip says and silver, I had never looked it up .. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colored_gold
    – Fattie
    Mar 2, 2021 at 21:05
  • @Fattie - the knowledge came more from plumbing than investing. Copper has a very specific color that is really hard to replicate in real life. I wonder if these are purely mixed or coated too.
    – blankip
    Mar 2, 2021 at 22:26

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