There are really four answers to this question;
And it mostly refers to bullion bars, both gold and silver.
- The London Bullion Market or LBMA refers to recognized as accredited refiners on their Good Delivery List, who have passed a stringent assaying and bar quality criteria, before their are added to the list of “recognized’ as the de facto standard for quality of gold and silver bars.
- On a local level, and here in North America, recognized, is the bar that was minted by a major refinery that is very well known, may or may not have international locations. Mints like the Royal Canadian Mint, Credit Suisse/PAMP, Johnson-Matthey, and NTR Metals out of the UK with over 40 locations, and local to BC is J&M bars.
- Unrecognized bars are from smaller local refiners that may now be out of business, or may still be in business. The purity of the metal may be the same but major financial institutions will not accept them. This is why recognized bars as per the explanation above carry a premium over unrecognized bars.
- Bars from recognized manufacturers may also be treated as unrecognized if they have major bruises, defects or scratches, or they may also be older poured bars, verses manufactured bars.
The reason recognized bars fetch higher prices is simply one of confidence.