In simple terms the spot price is the cash price of a commodity like gold or silver, at a given time and place. It relates to large bars of metal stored in certified warehouses where usually just the receipt of ownership changes hands not the physical metal.
However, realise that when buying smaller bars and ingots, the spot price doesn’t include other costs that may be involved such as: manufacturing and minting costs for bars, ingots or coins; seller mark ups; storage costs; or delivery and insurance costs.
So this is why prices are quote as “spot + 3.5%” for example.
(If you wanted the pedantic answer it would be that spot doesn’t actually exist. There is only “The Bid” – what someone is prepared to pay. And “The Ask” – what someone is prepared to sell for, and one has to meet the other. The spot price is just a theoretical price midway between the 2).
Also bear in mind that the spot price generally reported in the media is usually in US dollars. So when buying precious metals here in New Zealand the “spot price” is first converted to NZ dollars using the prevailing USD/NZD exchange rate and then the premium of say 3.5% for example is added to that. Here’s an article we wrote discussing this topic:
Avoid worrying about the NZD/USD exchange rate when buying gold
And you can track the NZ dollar gold and silver price on our prices page. http://goldsurvivalguide.co.nz/gold-prices/
Plus there’s also historical charts of both on there too.