999 gold is almost pure (99.9%). Some gold coins, bars and grain are .999 fine, not to be confused with the UK emergency telephone number 999. Although, gold is good in an emergency!
To calculate the carat (or karat) equivalent of .999 gold, simply multiply 24 by .999 = 23.976 carats.
Which are Which?
Different Standards of 24 Carat Gold Coins
Pure .9999 Gold Coins
The original "pure gold" bullion coins were Canadian maples. From their first date of issue in 1979 to 1982 inclusive, gold maple leaves were made of .999 fine gold (99.9). Only from 1983 onwards, were they changed to .9999 (99.99) pure. The difference is only very slight indeed, but we are trying to be pedantically accurate here!
Manx nobles were also made in two different standards, 22 carat gold from 1984 to 1988 inclusive. Then they switched to .9999 gold from 1994 onwards. Manx gold crowns have been made in wide variety of sizes and gold alloys, too many to try to analyse here. However, most of the one ounce and fractional bullion versions were produced in .9999 gold.
These include a special range of collectable "five nine" gold coins from Canada.
In addition, British sovereigns are made of 22 carat gold. Although they predate the concept of a one ounce coin, they are an excellent, but often overlooked alternative. Many other, older gold coins were made of .900 gold including French and Swiss coins. This does not reduce their value to the investor.
These older coins were originally intended for circulation, and they were made in sizes and weights which suited their original purposes many years ago. Sovereigns were first issued in 1489, and have retained their current format since 1817. There are advantages and disadvantages in buying these "real" coins instead of modern bullion coins.
There is a minimum fineness for gold to be accepted as investment gold. Please follow this link to our what is investment gold page for more information.
You may wish to view all of our articles on our gold guide.