The Ounce Issue

March 11, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

We have received a somewhat sarcastic comment from an online gold bullion and coin seller concerning troy ounces.

He is under the impression that it was unnecessary for us to have pointed out that gold, in fact all precious metals, are always quoted in troy ounces as distinct from avoirdupois ounces.

Well, we strongly believe that we should never take for granted that all our readers are sophisticated and experienced precious metal investors and traders.

We would like to think that our site was also an informative point of call for those beginners interested in learning the ins and outs of metals and mining and that many of them will come from those parts of the world where the metric system of weights is the norm.


Simply put the international avoirdupois ounce is the most commonly used ounce outside the metric world and is equivalent to 28.349523 grams whereas the international troy ounce, whose usage is confined to precious metals, is the equivalent to 31.1034768 grams.

The troy ounce is not far off 10% heavier, a significant difference.

Confusing the issue are a number of other defined ounces, such as the Chinese Metric ounce, The Dutch ounce, Maria Theresa ounce and others, all having different metric weights in grams.

The bullion seller in question could of course be totally ignorant of the troy and avoirdupois ounce issue but somehow we think and hope, for his sake, that he was just trying to be clever at our expense. 


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Comments (2)

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  1. Anders Eriksson says:

    since the international (SI) unit of mass is the kilogram, and not the troy ounce, then logically the international precious metal exchange should be quoted in USD (or preferably Euro)
    per kilogram. when will the current illogical system be reformed???

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the question Mr Eriksson.

    I guess that any move to change to standard metric units would cause a tremendous amount of problems in the precious metal trade.

    For example, think of the complications of revaluing the multitude of gold, silver and platinum coinage minted over centuries.

    The mind set of every trader, dealer, collector and producer would have to undergo an enormous change.

    As the precious metal business is confined to a relatively small coterie of professionals world wide I doubt that there would be any voice for a change from within as there seems to be no viable argument for altering the status quo and no discernable advantage to the public.

    Let’s also not forget that the US, still the worlds leading economy, does not trade using the metric system.

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