Gold is a popular investment for people who are looking for a hedge against inflation or a safe harbor during times of economic uncertainty. If you want to buy small amounts of gold, for the most part you'll be limited to gold investment coins, which are smaller than bars. However, you'll still have a range of choices, since many countries mint investment coins. Keep in mind that buying investment coins is different from purchasing collectible coins because the value of investment coins depends on the metal content, not on rarity or the coin's condition.
Know your options for buying small amounts of gold. The most popular investment coins are the Australian Nugget and Kangaroo and Austrian Philharmonic along with South African Krugerrands and U.S. Eagles and Buffalos. Gold coins are available that contain from one-tenth to one full Troy ounce (31.10 grams) of gold. Some are pure (22K) gold, while others are 22K gold alloyed (91.7 percent gold) with another metal to make the coin hard and durable. Prices are comparable. A 22K gold-alloyed coin contains the same amount of gold, but weighs slightly more because of the added alloy.
Find a reputable bullion dealer in your area if you prefer to buy small amounts of gold in person. Most good jewelers and coin dealers sell investment coins. In addition, the coins they carry are certified and encapsulated (packaged) by the producing mint or a certification service like National Guaranty Corporation. Certified coins have been tested to insure they are real gold. You can find a state-by-state list of dealers for U.S. Eagles and Buffalo coins using the U.S. Mint's Dealer Locator (link below).The American Numismatic Association also maintains an online dealer listing of reputable coin dealers.
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Buy gold coins directly from the U.S. Mint online (link below). You need to create an account with the U.S. Mint just as you would with any other online vendor. You can browse the Mint's selection of coins and keep up with the latest releases. The U.S. Mint carries 22K American Eagle and 24K Buffalo gold coins. Both are available in sizes as small as one-tenth ounce. These coins have the advantage of being the only gold coins you can include in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
Check out other online markets like eBay for small amounts of gold. You can occasionally find good deals on auction sites. Some caution is in order, however. Never buy gold in any amount unless it is certified. Otherwise you are likely to end up eventually selling it at a substantial discount or paying a coin grading service to test and re-certify your gold coins.