If she the type of human who appreciates vintage and antique jewelry, you’ve more than likely come across jewelry that’s defined as “Gold”, “Gold Filled” “Gold Plated” or one of a dozen various other phrases with the word Gold in it. As soon as shopping for vintage and antique jewelry, even if it is on eBay or in your neighborhood antique mall, it’s vital to recognize the difference in between these usual phrases. No all “Gold” is developed equal.

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In order to acquire a real expertise of all these terms, you have actually to very first understand some basics around gold itself.


Gold is an elemental metal. This way that pure yellow is made up of nothing yet gold atoms. Other examples of element metals incorporate copper (made of nothing but copper atoms); iron (made of nothing however iron atoms) and aluminum (made the nothing however aluminum atoms). In its organic form, yellow is orangish-yellow in shade (sometimes called “buttery” yellow), has a bright bright (high luster), is an extremely soft (it scratches easily) and also is very malleable (it have the right to be hammered and stretched quickly with steel tools).


Example that a 14K Gold mark with the manufacturer’s surname “Esemco” beneath. U.S. Legislation Requires all Manufacturers to incorporate a maker’s mark in addition to the fineness mark. 

While not really common in the unified States, you will periodically encounter 20K, 21K and also 22K yellow items. These space usually of center Eastern (e.g. Kuwaiti) or far Eastern (e.g. Hong Kong) origin.

Outside the United claims (and a couple of other west Countries), the dominant fineness marking system is a numeric device that indicates the amount of pure yellow a communication of components of one thousand. For example, if miscellaneous is 18K yellow (75% pure gold) then it is 750 parts out the 1000 pure gold. That a portion – 750/1000 = 0.75 or 75%. In the Numeric noting System (sometimes dubbed the “European System” or “Convention System”) you usage the first number. So an item that was 75% gold (18K in the Karat System) would simply be significant 750. Similarly, an object that is 58.5% gold (very close to 14K in the Karat System) would be significant 585. Other common markings are:

375 = 375/1000 or 9K Gold

875 = 875/1000 that 21K Gold


Example the a 750 note with the manufacturer’s mark “RA” above.

While most nations will usage either the Karat System, Numeric device or a combination of both, a couple of countries still usage a photographic hallmarking system. Hallmarks are slightly different from fineness marks since they indicate that the fineness the the metal has been authorized by a government or quasi-governmental entity. Under a pictorial hallmarking system, the lot of pure gold contained in a item of jewelry is suggested by a specific picture or prize – for example – a common animal or the profile of a person. Contemporary jewelry will virtually always additionally have a numeric marking in addition to the photographic hallmark. Neck pieces, however, will frequently have simply a pictorial mark or no mark at all.

If there is no marking, how deserve to you tell even if it is or no something is yes, really gold?

The an initial thing to keep in mind right here is the a fineness mark or hallmark is just a label placed on other by a human being or machine. While this marks room a great indication the something is in reality gold, the note is just as an useful as the human being who put it there. Anyone deserve to order a collection of hallmarking stamps off a website and stamp non-gold with 14K, 18K, 750 or any type of other mark. The only means to know you are obtaining real yellow is to buy from a trusted dealer or test it yourself.

Gold can be tested in several different ways. In our store, we usage two techniques – mountain Testing and also X-Ray Fluorescence. Lock both have benefits and disadvantages. For more information top top gold experimentation – view our post “Gold experimentation Basics”.

Gold Plated and also Gold to fill Jewelry

Now the we know what gold and gold alloys are, it’s time come talk about gold plated and also gold to fill jewelry.

Gold Plated Jewelry:

Gold plated jewelry is not gold jewelry. Gold plated jewel is jewel made that a base metal (e.g. Copper) or silver- that has actually a really thin layer of gold used to the top. The great is for this reason thin, that it have the right to usually be rubbed off v a coarse pencil eraser in a few swipes. Some plated jewelry has a “thicker” class of gold than other plated jewelry, however the difference is trivial on the grand range of things. When buying yellow plated jewelry, you should take into consideration the yellow plating together nothing more than a color (an aesthetic attribute) – there is practically no innate value to the gold applied. It doesn’t issue if the 24K, 14K or 18K.

Example that a Designer yellow Plated Bracelet with natural Agate

This doesn’t typical gold plated jewelry is “junk” or “uncollectible”. To the contrary, lot of the vintage and modern gold plated jewel on the sector is very desirable and also a pleasure to wear. Typical marks for gold plated jewel include:

14KGP — (Note: don’t confuse 14KGP with simply 14KP. 14KGP method 14K yellow Plate. 14KP method 14K Plumb – i m sorry is “dead on exactly” aka “plumb” hard 14K Gold) The “14” can be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.14K HGE — 14K hefty Gold Electroplate. This way the yellow plating layer was used using electrolysis. The “14” can be substituted v 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.24K gold Plated — This method the plating great is 24K gold. It usually shows electroplating.Vermeil — way gold plated sterling silver- or fine silver. It’s regular old gold plating – other than the underlying metal is sterling silver- of well silver rather of a base metal.Gold over Sterling Silver —Same together vermeil.Gold Wash — continuous old yellow plating with a nicer name.Gold Clad / Karat Clad — In a technical sense – clad means that yellow layer was pressure bound to the underlying basic metal. However, “gold clad” is a typical synonym because that any form of gold plating.Bonded gold — right here again – this just way gold plated. Just like all gold plated jewelry, some bonded gold jewelry has a thicker great of yellow plating 보다 others – yet the difference is negligible.10 Microns / or another number followed by the word microns or the symbol for micron “µ” – this method that the class of yellow plating is 10 microns thickPlaque Or – usually complied with by a variety of Microns. This is viewed on French / Swiss pieces, especially watch cases. It method gold plated.

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Gold Filled jewelry

Gold filled jewel is not gold jewelry. Yellow filled jewelry is made by taking one or much more sheets that solid yellow (14K, 12K, 18K, etc) and also wrapping them approximately a base metal under extreme pressure. The gold sheets are effectively “filled” through something various other than gold. Unlike gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry has actually a generally measurable quantity of actual yellow in it. Like gold plated jewelry, some gold to fill jewelry has actually a thicker class of gold than other gold fill jewelry. In some instances, the load of the yellow is actually significant on the yellow filled jewelry.

For instance – mid 20th century and later pieces are really often marked 1/20 12K yellow Filled. This means that 1/20 that the metal weight the the item is composed of 12K gold (remember the 12K gold itself is an alloy consist of of only 50% gold – hence a 1/20 12K gold Filled article is 1/20 12K gold and also 1/40 pure gold). Common gold filled clues include: