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Bullion

Traditionally speaking, bullion refers to precious metals in the form of bars or variously shaped ingots (metal cast into a shape suitable for further processing). The word bullion is derived from the old French word bouillon. Bouillon, which literally translates as “boiling,” was the word used to refer to melting house or mint. Today, the word bullion is most often used to refer to precious metals that have been cast as bars, coins, rounds or other various shapes for the purposes of investment and trading on commodity markets. The defining characteristic of bullion is that its value is determined by its purity and mass no matter what shape it is cast in.


Bullion Castings

Bars

When most people think of bullion, they probably picture piles of gold bars in a bank vault. While you’re not likely to find them in your local bank’s vault, this isn’t far off the mark. Gold is one of the most common precious metals to be bought, sold and traded in bar form. Silver, platinum and palladium are also cast in bar form for investment and commodity trading purposes.







Coins and Rounds

Under U.S. law, coins must technically be considered legal tender in their country of origin. If they do not meet this criteria, they must be classified as rounds instead. While bullion coins are technically legal tender, their intrinsic value is far higher than their face value. Nevertheless, they have a lower numismatic value than modern commems. Like bars, coins and rounds are commonly struck from gold, silver, platinum and palladium.









Other Shapes

While bars, coins and rounds are the most common forms used for casting bullion, it can actually be cast in almost any form. For example, there has been a recent interest in silver bullion cast in the form of silver bullets. When nontraditional shapes are used, it is generally for aesthetic reasons.

 

Most Common Bullion Metals

As stated above, bullion is cast from precious metals. By definition, precious metals are rare, naturally-occurring metallic elements of high economic value. Historically, precious metals, especially gold and silver, have been used as currency by many different cultures. Today, they are most commonly used for art, jewelry and investment or commodity trading. The metals most commonly used to cast bullion are:




Gold



Silver



Platinum



Palladium

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