When discussing buying gold coins, the difference between a troy ounce and a standard ounce (also known as an avoirdupois ounce) often comes up. One would think that with the troy ounce being around since the 1400s, there would be no question about what it is.

As it turns out the weight and measures term “Troy” is lost to antiquity, but some suggest it has its origins in the Champagne fairs at Troyes, in northeastern France. Once widely used, the troy ounce is the only vestige we have of the troy measuring system.

In order to preserve high standards and common measures, the troy ounce was favored over the avoirdupois ounce in the weighing and pricing of gold, platinum, silver. The word avoirdupois is one that seems to be falling into disuse but hails from the Anglo-Norman French aveir de peis (later avoir de pois), literally “goods of weight”

The troy ounce is 1/12th of a troy pound compared to a standard ounce which is 1/16th of a standard pound. There are 480 grains in a troy ounce and only 437.5 grains in a standard ounce. Grain weights today have dropped off in application to archery when referring to the weight of modern arrowheads as well as dealing with the weight of bullets and powder charges. The troy ounce and grain weights were also used by drugstores and apothecaries of a bygone era, and have since been replaced by milligrams and the metric system.

By way of illustration, 1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams or 480 grains, and 1 standard ounce = 28.3495231 grams or 437.5 grains. From basic math we can see that 1 Troy ounce contains 2.75 grams more metal than the standard ounce. So an ounce of Gold weighs 2.7539537 grams more than an ounce of some commodity like sugar. Although I am very fond of sugar I would be far better off with a troy ounce of gold.

We here at ITM Trading, regardless of your position on sugar, would enjoy sharing our knowledge of the precious metals market with you. If we can be of assistance, please feel free to call us, toll free, at 1 888 OWN GOLD (1 888 696 4653).