Part of what makes precious metals so precious is that they have different qualities than many other metals. As such, gold, silver, and other precious metals should be handled with particular care to keep them in the best possible condition. Some collectors—especially new collectors—may not be aware of what can damage bullion coins and bars.
In looking at what not to do with precious metal bullion, we learn what we can and should do. Below are five things you should never do to your bullion coins.
#1: Never Clean Bullion Coins
As coins age, it’s natural for the metal to oxidize or tone. You may notice your coins becoming discolored and less lustrous than when you first acquired them. But do not make the mistake of cleaning your coins! Even if your goal is simply to maintain their sheen, cleaning or polishing coins does more harm than good. Many types of cleaning solutions will damage coins by removing its natural toning, and possibly some metal content. This is irreversible damage that can seriously devalue your coins. The natural toning of coins is part of their allure and therefore, toned coins retain more value than stripped coins.
#2: Never Directly Handle Bullion Coins
Our skin contains oils, along with particles of dirt and grime, that can adhere to coins and cause damages like discoloration and minor scratches. Proof and other higher grade coins are especially susceptible to these types of damages. You should never directly handle your coins with your bare hands. Rather, wash your hands and then slip on a pair of cotton gloves before touching your coin collection. You should only grab coins by their edges to help preserve the face details.
#3: Never Store Bullion Coins Using Unsafe Materials
Some storage materials contain chemicals that can cause discoloration, spotting, and other damages to your coins. The primary culprit is any paper product that contains acid. Paper breaks down over time and acid can be released. Always be sure to buy specific acid-free versions of any paper, envelopes, or cardboard that you use to store coins. Another culprit is any plastic product containing PVC. This chemical byproduct can eventually leave a slimy green film on the surface of your coins, which can cause permanent damage. Be sure to use PVC-free flips, tubes, capsules, and boxes.
#4: Never Expose Bullion Coins to the Elements
Extreme temperatures, humidity, sunlight, and other elements can promote the oxidation of precious metals. Coins (along with storage materials like plastic flips and tubes) that are exposed to the elements may face permanent damages. Paper and cardboard storage materials are particularly susceptible to elemental damages. It’s best to store your bullion coins in a dark, temperature-controlled environment like a safe, coin cabinet, or bank safety deposit box. This greatly reduces the chances of damages to your bullion stash.
#5: Never Remove Bullion Coins From Holders
Any coins that come in plastic holders—such as graded coins from NGC or PCGS—have been sealed inside to preserve their condition. Cracking open these holders could result in damages to the coins, which is why cracked or broken holders will diminish their value. Similarly, coins that come in mint-issued capsules or boxes should remain inside for protection, as well as preserving the value of the item. Any certificates or literature that come with these coins should be kept in excellent condition as well, without folds, tears, or water damage. Keeping these items in mint condition will help preserve their integrity and collector’s value over the years.
Precious metals are an investment in the financial wellbeing of you and your family. Taking good care of your bullion coins helps ensure that they remain in excellent condition and retain their value. We’ve provided some tips to help you protect your metals. What tips do you have to offer fellow stackers? Let us know in the comments section below.