How to Handle Gold Coins: 5 Things You Need to Know

Posted - December 15, 2023
how to handle gold coins

Gold coins are beautiful, expensive investments that need to be handled carefully. If you don’t take the proper precautions when moving or showing off your gold coins, you could risk damaging them. For 1 oz gold coins, this could mean losing hundreds of dollars. 

Learning how to handle gold coins is one of the most important things that new investors can explore. Before you buy your first gold coins or choose to move your investments from one safe to another, it’s essential to learn how to handle gold coins the right way. 

That’s why we’re here. Hero Bullion’s extensive catalog of guides helps new investors find their bearing in the complex world of buying and selling gold coins. 

Today, we’re focusing on how to handle gold coins. In this guide, you’ll find 5 things you need to know about how to handle gold coins without damaging them or risking the loss of your investment’s value. 

How to Handle Gold Coins

Before we get into some tips for handling gold coins properly, let’s take a look at why handling gold coins properly is so important. For some unlucky investors, handling coins improperly could cost hundreds of dollars – or even thousands. 

Why is Proper Gold Coin Handling Important? 

First, let’s take a look at why it’s important to be careful when handling gold coins. As we’ll explain below, gold coins don’t really tarnish. At least gold coins don’t tarnish in the way that sterling silver can tarnish when exposed to sunlight and oxygen. 

However, gold coins can become damaged, especially if your coin boasts a high purity level. Damaged gold coins will still be worth their melt value in gold, but any kind of damage or scratching on your gold coin can quickly destroy its numismatic value to collectors. 

We recommend taking great care when learning how to handle gold coins. Following just a few protocols can keep your gold coins looking sharp for decades. Each year, we read or hear stories about investors who mishandled their coins, demolishing their value permanently. 

Can Gold Coins Tarnish? 

Gold coins shouldn’t tarnish over time, as long as they’re made using high quality, pure gold bullion. Some gold jewelry can tarnish, but this mostly happens when the jewelry contains a low percentage of pure gold. 

Hero Bullion’s gold coins are typically minted using .9999 or .9167 pure gold. These gold coins won’t tarnish over time, but it’s still important that new investors learn how to handle gold coins. Exposure to liquids, scratches from fingernails, or wear and tear from being held on the face can harm the long-term value and durability of your gold coins. 

Handling Graded Vs. Ungraded Gold Coins 

Graded and ungraded coins are different. Grading refers to the process of assigning a value to a coin based on its condition. Gold coins that are damaged or heavily circulated will generally receive a much lower grade compared to uncirculated, pristine gold coins. 

When you learn how to handle gold coins in ungraded condition, you’ll want to be careful to avoid damaging the coin in any way. When you go to sell a gold coin, one of the first questions you’ll get from prospective buyers is: what grade is the coin in? If you’ve been careless while handling your ungraded gold coin, the coin’s value will suffer. 

Graded gold coins are a different story. Most gold coins that have been graded will be packaged in a protective case that lists the details of the grade and the company that certified it. For graded coins, it’s important to keep your gold coins inside of this packaging. Like ungraded coins, graded gold coins that have been mishandled will quickly lose value on the secondary market.  

5 Tips: How to Handle Gold Coins Properly 

If you’re wondering how to handle gold coins properly, we’ve got some tips to help you out. As a general rule, most of these tips are intuitive. In other words, even completely green collectors should know not to drink liquids while handling their gold coins. 

2023 1 oz American Gold Eagle Coin Reverse
2023 1 oz American Gold Eagle

But there are also a few tips on our list that might not be so clear. Did you know that the oils in your skin can potentially damage your gold coins over time? Let’s take a look at 5 tips on how to handle gold coins without damaging them. 

1. Avoid Unclean Areas

When you go to handle your gold coins, avoid places that are dirty or messy. This should be a no-brainer. Whether you’re a gold investor or just a collector of rare coins, the last thing you want is to have your coins coated in sticky, gross liquids. 

Avoiding unclean areas when handling gold coins is also important for another reason. Dirty areas may make it harder for you to handle your gold coins without tripping or dropping them. Imagine trying to learn how to handle gold coins on top of a messy desk with drinks, old food items, and other collectibles on it. Not a great recipe for success! 

When you handle your gold coins, make sure to avoid messy, unclean areas. Before you even choose a place to handle your gold coins, there’s something you need to do first. 

2. Wash Your Hands Carefully 

If you plan on handling gold coins without protective gloves, you’ll want to wash your hands very carefully prior to picking up an expensive gold coin. Again, this should be pretty solid common sense for anyone who’s been around expensive collectibles for a long time. 

Fun fact: you can leave fingerprints on gold coins. Gold coins that are handled without gloves using unwashed hands can leave stains that might be almost impossible to ever remove. Could you imagine trying to sell a gold coin at a premium when it’s all marked up with fingerprints and coloration issues? 

Unscented hand sanitizer is recommended for people trying to learn how to handle gold coins. Hand sanitizer is a good choice for cleaning your hands before handling gold coins because it contains alcohol, which strips the oil out of your hands while cleaning them. 

While washing your hands can help to prevent some damage while handling your gold coins, we recommend not touching the coins directly at all. 

3. Wear Coin Handling Gloves!

To avoid having even a small risk of leaving fingerprints on your gold coins, invest in some coin handling gloves. You don’t have to buy these from a bullion dealer. Any thin cotton gloves should be perfect for handling expensive gold coins. 

When you handle gold coins wearing gloves, you prevent the oils in your fingertips and palms from interacting with the precious metal within the coins. This is great, because we often see beautiful gold coins ruined by the presence of fingerprints and discoloration. Discoloration is one of the main negative impacts of handling gold coins with your bare hands. 

2023 1 oz American Gold Buffalo Coin Reverse
2023 1 oz Gold Buffalo Coin

Of course, an even better way to avoid fingerprints and discoloration is to avoid touching your gold coins on their faces at all. 

4. Hold Coins by their Edges Only 

If you’ve ever watched a professional explain how to handle gold coins, you’ll notice that they almost never touch the face of their coins directly. The face is the part of the coin that features designs. On the American Gold Eagle, for example, this gold coin features an obverse face depiction of Lady Liberty and a reverse of the American bald eagle. 

Touching your gold coins on their faces is one of the worst things you can do for the quality – and value – of your investments. Even while wearing cotton gloves, you could potentially scratch, discolor, or leave fingerprints on your coins if you hold them using the face. 

To display or handle a gold coin properly, try making the “OK” gesture using your hand. The small “O” created by your pointer finger and thumb is where the coin can sit. Otherwise, holding a gold coin by its edges using the thumb and pointer is a great way to display gold coins without leaving fingerprints on the face. 

For investors who are new and want to learn how to handle gold coins properly, this is the golden rule. If you want your gold coins to stay golden and perfect, you should never, ever touch and hold the coin by its face. 

How to Handle Gold Coins: 5 Things You Need to Know
Single Sourced Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin

The best way to handle gold coins is to carefully prepare your workspace. 

5. Avoid Food or Drinks Near Gold Coins

Accidents happen, but spilling food or drink on your gold coins can be quite an expensive accident. We recommend clearing your workspace of all foods and beverages before handling your gold coins. Investors who are new to collecting gold bullion coins often ask us how to handle gold coins the right way. 

For these investors, clearing their workspace is our first piece of advice. It also might be the most important tip we can give anyone who plans on taking their gold coins out of the safe to display or move them. 

Together, these 5 tips could save you thousands of dollars. If you’re careful, it’s perfectly okay to handle gold coins. Still, we see investors every year who are distraught after ruining their gold coins by handling them dangerously. 

Preparing Your Coins for Handling 

Before you even think about handling your gold coins, you should prepare yourself and your workspace. Like we mentioned earlier, clearing your workspace of all food, drink, and clutter is a great way to mitigate the risk of disaster. 

But there are also a couple of things you should consider before you learn how to handle gold coins properly. Investing in a pair of cotton gloves and keeping your graded coins inside their packaging can help ensure that your gold coins remain valuable for decades to come. 

2023 British 1 oz Gold Britannia Coin - Queen Type
2023 1 oz Gold Britannia Coin

Cotton Gloves – A Worthy Investment!

Nobody wants to spend their stacking budget on cotton gloves – we get it. However, investing in a pair of solid cotton gloves can be one of the best choices you make for your gold portfolio. Hero Bullion offers a wide selection of cotton gloves that can prevent pesky, ugly fingerprints from harming the value of your gold coin investments. 

This guide is focused on how to handle gold coins, but it’s also important that new investors do a bit of work in advance before they actually pick up their coins. Cheap cotton gloves from Hero Bullion can keep fingerprints and oils away from your valuable gold coins. 

Keep Graded Coins Inside Their Packaging

While ungraded coins don’t usually come inside of a protective packaging, we recommend handling graded gold coins inside of their package only. 

When a coin is professionally graded, most coin grading companies place the coin inside of a  plastic package. On the outside of the package, you’ll find the grading company’s name, as well as a few details about the condition of your coin. 

It might seem fun to take your gold coins out of their package, but we highly discourage doing so. Expert coin graders and numismatists work hard to make sure that your graded coins are protected from all sorts of damage inside of this protective packaging. 

In the future, buyers might also be able to tell if you’ve tampered with your coin’s grading certificate in order to pull the coin out of its package. This would be disastrous for the market value of your coin. If you learn nothing else from our guide on how to handle gold coins, remember that graded gold coins should remain inside of their protective packaging. 

Final Thoughts: How to Handle Gold Coins Carefully

New investors typically have many questions. It’s common for brand new – and established – gold collectors to ask us how to handle gold coins. The good news is that you can safely handle your gold coins by taking a few simple precautions. 

Is it safe to touch gold coins? As long as your workspace is clear, you’re wearing gloves, and you handle your coins by their edges and not their faces, you are perfectly safe to handle gold coins. 

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About The Author

Michael Roets is a writer and journalist for Hero Bullion. His work explores precious metals news, guides, and commentary.