If you’re the type of person who appreciates vintage and antique jewelry, you’ve probably come across jewelry that’s described as “Gold”, “Gold Filled” “Gold Plated” or one of a dozen other phrases with the word Gold in it. When shopping for vintage and antique jewelry, whether on eBay or in your local antique mall, it’s important to know the difference between these common phrases. Not all “Gold” is created equal.

In order to get a real understanding of all these terms, you have to first understand some basics about gold itself.


Gold is an elemental metal. This means that pure gold is made up of nothing but gold atoms. Other examples of elemental metals include copper (made of nothing but copper atoms); iron (made of nothing but iron atoms) and aluminum (made of nothing but aluminum atoms).  In its natural form, gold is orangish-yellow in color (sometimes called “buttery” yellow), has a bright shine (high luster), is very soft (it scratches easily) and is very malleable (it can be hammered and stretched easily with iron tools).


Example of Elemental Gold In Its Natural “Nugget Form”

When people talk about the “Price of Gold” or the “Spot Gold Price” or “Gold Bullion” – they are talking about pure elemental gold. Pure gold is so soft, however, that it is rarely ever used to make jewelry because it cannot hold up to daily use. For example, a pure gold ring would constantly lose its shape and any stones set in it would be at risk of coming loose.  Rather, most jewelry is made from a “gold alloy”.  An alloy is a combination of any two metals. For example – brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass is made by melting down copper and zinc and “stirring” them together.

Similarly, gold alloys are made by melting down pure gold and combining it with another metal (usually silver, copper or tin). 99.9% of the gold jewelry on the market today is made from a gold alloy of some type.

Indicating Gold Content

Because gold jewelry is usually sold in alloy form, it is important to know how much pure gold it contains – and thus its inherent value. There are two common systems (known as “Fineness Marking”) for indicating gold content in jewelry – the Karat System and Numeric System.

In the United States, and countries which export heavily to the United States, the Karat system is used. In the Karat System, pure elemental gold is referred to as 24K gold. There is no higher standard in the Karat System than 24K gold (you will sometimes see scams where people claim to be selling 25K, 26K and 28K Gold – this is simply an attempt by a dishonest dealer who is trying to take advantage of an unknowledgeable customer).

24K gold is gold in its purest form without any other metal added (though even most 24K gold usually has minute traces of other metals in it. That’s why even fine gold bullion is labeled 99.999% Gold instead of 100% Gold).  Gold alloys are represented in the Karat System based on the number of “karats” of gold contained in each alloy. For example, in the United States you will commonly see 14 Karat and 10 Karat Gold. 14 Karat Gold consists of 14 parts (aka “karats”) gold and 10 parts (aka “karats”) some other metal (58.3% pure gold). 10K Gold consists of 10 parts gold and 14 parts some other metal (41.6% pure gold). Other common indications are:

  • 18K = 75% Pure Gold
  • 12K = 50% Pure Gold
  • 9K   = 33% Pure Gold (common in British and Antique Pieces. It is technically unlawful to represent 9K gold in the U.S. as being solid gold)



Example of a 14K Gold Mark with the manufacturer’s name “Esemco” beneath. U.S. Law Requires All Manufacturers to include a maker’s mark along with the fineness mark. 

While not very common in the United States, you will sometimes encounter 20K, 21K and 22K Gold items. These are usually of Middle Eastern (e.g. Kuwaiti) or Far Eastern (e.g. Hong Kong) origin.

Outside the United States (and a few other Western Countries), the dominant fineness marking system is a numeric system that indicates the amount of pure gold a basis of parts of one thousand. For example, if something is 18K gold (75% pure gold) then it is 750 parts out of 1000 pure gold. It’s a fraction – 750/1000 = 0.75 or 75%.  In the Numeric Marking System (sometimes called the “European System” or “Convention System”) you use the first number. So an item that was 75% gold (18K in the Karat System) would just be marked 750. Similarly, an item that is 58.5% Gold (very close to 14K in the Karat System) would be marked 585. Other common markings are:

375 = 375/1000 or 9K Gold

875 = 875/1000 of 21K Gold



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

While most countries will use either the Karat System, Numeric System or a combination of both, a few countries still use a pictorial hallmarking system. Hallmarks are slightly different from fineness marks because they indicate that the fineness of the metal has been approved by a governmental or quasi-governmental entity. Under a pictorial hallmarking system, the amount of pure gold contained in a piece of jewelry is indicated by a specific picture or symbol – for example – a common animal or the profile of a person. Modern jewelry will almost always also have a numeric marking in addition to the pictorial hallmark. Antique pieces, however, will often have just a pictorial mark or no mark at all.

If there is no marking, how can you tell whether or not something is really gold?

The first thing to keep in mind here is that a fineness mark or hallmark is just a label put on something by a person or machine. While these marks are a good indication that something is actually gold, the mark is only as valuable as the person who put it there. Anyone can order a set of hallmarking stamps off a website and stamp non-gold with 14K, 18K, 750 or any other mark. The only way to know you are getting real gold is to buy from a trusted dealer or test it yourself.

Gold can be tested in several different ways. In our store, we use two methods – Acid Testing and X-Ray Fluorescence. They both have advantages and disadvantages. For more information on gold testing – see our article “Gold Testing Basics”.

Gold Plated and Gold Filled Jewelry

Now that we know what gold and gold alloys are, it’s time to talk about gold plated and gold filled jewelry.

Gold Plated Jewelry:

Gold plated jewelry is NOT gold jewelry. Gold plated jewelry is jewelry made of a base metal (e.g. copper) or silver that has a very thin layer of gold applied to the top. The layer is so thin, that it can usually be rubbed off with a coarse pencil eraser in a few swipes. Some plated jewelry has a “thicker” layer of gold than other plated jewelry, but the difference is insignificant on the grand scale of things. When buying gold plated jewelry, you should consider the gold plating as nothing more than a coloring (an aesthetic attribute) – there is almost no inherent value to the gold applied. It doesn’t matter if it’s 24K, 14K or 18K.

Example of a Designer Gold Plated Bracelet with Natural Agate

This doesn’t mean gold plated jewelry is “junk” or “uncollectible”. To the contrary, much of the vintage and modern gold plated jewelry on the market is very desirable and a pleasure to wear. Common marks for gold plated jewelry include:

  • 14KGP — (Note: don’t confuse 14KGP with just 14KP. 14KGP means 14K Gold Plate. 14KP means 14K Plumb – which is “dead on exactly” aka “plumb”  solid 14K Gold) The “14” can be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.
  • 14K HGE  — 14K Heavy Gold Electroplate. This means the gold plating layer was applied using electrolysis. The “14” can be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.
  • 24K Gold Plated — This means the plating layer is 24K gold. It usually indicates electroplating.
  • Vermeil — Means gold plated sterling silver or fine silver. It’s regular old gold plating – except the underlying metal is sterling silver of fine silver instead of a base metal.
  • Gold Over Sterling Silver —Same as vermeil.
  • Gold Wash — Regular old gold plating with a nicer name.
  • Gold Clad / Karat Clad — In a technical sense – clad means that gold layer was pressure bound to the underlying base metal. However, “gold clad” is a common synonym for any type of gold plating.
  • Bonded Gold — Here again – this just means gold plated. As with all gold plated jewelry, some bonded gold jewelry has a thicker layer of gold plating than others – but the difference is negligible.
  • 10 Microns / or another number followed by the word microns or the symbol for micron “µ” – this means that the layer of gold plating is 10 microns thick
  • Plaque Or – usually followed by a number of Microns. This is seen on French / Swiss pieces, especially watch cases. It means gold plated.

Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold filled jewelry is NOT gold jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is made by taking one or more sheets of solid gold (14K, 12K, 18K, etc) and wrapping them around a base metal under intense pressure. The gold sheets are effectively “filled” with something other than gold. Unlike gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry has a commonly measurable amount of actual gold in it. Like gold plated jewelry, some gold filled jewelry has a thicker layer of gold than other gold filled jewelry. In some instances, the weight of the gold is actually marked on the gold filled jewelry.

For example – mid 20th century and later pieces are very often marked 1/20 12K Gold Filled. This means that 1/20 of the metal weight of the item consists of 12K Gold (remember that 12K gold itself is an alloy consisting of only 50% gold – thus a 1/20 12K Gold Filled item is 1/20 12K gold and 1/40 pure gold).  Common gold filled marks include:

example of 12kt

Example of the 12KT. G.F. mark on a rose brooch   

  • G.F. (stands for Gold Filled – U.S. Law requires that items marked this way be at least 1/20th gold by weight )
  • 1/20 12K G.F. (this is one of the most common marks)
  • 1/10 12K Gold Filled (The “12K” can be substituted with 10K, 14K, 18K etc.) (1/10 of the piece is gold weight).
  • 12KT G.F. (The “12” can be substituted with 10, 14, 18 etc.).
  • 20/12  — This is shorthand for 1/20 12K Gold Filled (you will also sometimes see 14/20, 12/10 etc.)
  • Gold Filled — (same as “G.F”)
  • 14K Rolled Gold; 14K Rolled Gold Plate; R.G.P.; 1/30 R.G.P.; 1/40 R.G.P.  – all of these markings stand for “Rolled Gold Plate” which is usually, but not always 1/30th or less solid gold.
  • ¼ 14K Shell — This means ¼ of the metal weight of the item is solid 14K gold. (The “14” can be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.)
  • 1/5 14K Shell  — This means 1/5 of the metal weight of the item is solid 14K gold. (The “14” can be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.)
  • Guaranteed 10 Years; Guaranteed 20 years; Warranted – seen on watch cases. This means the watch is supposed to have a thick enough gold layer to last 10 or 20 years of normal handling before wearing off. Gold weight values – but the 20 year watches are usually at least 1/10 10K gold by weight.
  • 1/20 14K G.F. Sterling Silver — This means that instead of a base metal, the gold layer is wrapped around solid sterling silver. Common on pieces from the 1940’s and 1950’s and also in new studio jewelry.

Mixed Metals

Occasionally you will encounter jewelry that is made of Solid Gold and another precious metal. This jewelry will often be marked with a gold fineness mark and a fineness mark for the other metal (e.g. Silver, Platinum, Palladium).

The example below is a U.S. Marine Corps Ring. The Marines emblem on the ring is solid 14K Gold. The remainder of the ring is sterling silver. The ring is thus marked 14K and also .925, which is the numerical marking for Sterling Silver (925/1000 silver). See our article on silver for more info on Sterling Silver.

U.S marine corp ring1 U.S marine corp ring2

425 comments on “The difference between Gold, Gold Plated and Gold Filled Jewelry

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog. These pieces are real classics and sell well today. We generally offer them between $20-$40USD depending on size and condition.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! I apologize for getting back to you so late. Please double check the ring to make sure it doesn’t say IBG and then the copyright symbol. The I.B. Goodman company used the mark 14K IBG(c) and I suspect that is what you are seeing. It would be unusual, but not impossible, for a vintage wedding band to be gold plated.

    • hi and thanks for your question! If the chain is solid 12K gold, i think that is a great deal — even for a thin chain. If the chain is 12K G.F., it would really depend on the quality, age and heft of the piece.

  1. Hello, recently purchased a 14 Yg engagement custom made ring. This past weekend we went into a hot tub and on on side of the ring it seemed to lose a little color. But the rest of the ring seems fine. Does the chlorine affect yellow gold? I plan on taking the ring to a different jeweler to get it appraised, I went to a well known and trusted jeweler with 3 locations , one of which is in NYC. Just wondering if this is normal? I feel like if this was solid 14k gold it would not lose its color.

    • hi and thanks for your question. I agree with you completely — a hot tub should not change the color of a solid 14K gold ring. Some manufactured jewelry (think QVC) has a laqcuer finish that is susceptible to high heat- but this would almost never seen on a ring, especially a custom made piece. If the ring was cast in-house (aka studio cast) by the jewelry, then it is possible he/she used a personal alloy that has some color gradient to it. Let us know how it turns out. Thanks again.

    • Hi and thanks for your question. Most black gold pieces are coated with a black finish (e.g black rhodium) However, if the piece is plated in black gold, then it is likely an oxidation susceptible alloy of 58.3% gold and either cobalt or copper. That alloy is applied in a very thin layer to the exterior of the piece.

    • High and thanks for your question. All plated material is subject to wear. As the piece is worn and comes in contact with skin and clothing, the plating will very slowly erode until the base metal beneath is exposed. Some plated pieces are sealed with clear epoxy, and as long as they are not scratched with something sharp, they will last almost indefinitely.

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! It depends on the context in which the word is used. It can mean that the piece is an authentic designer piece, that the piece is from a particular period, that the piece is made from a specific metal/stone or something mean something else entirely. Let me know if there is a particular usage you are interested in and I will do my best to answer. Thanks again, Zowie

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! It’s hard to say without seeing the piece, however I believe $60.00 is likely a fair price. Swarovski crystals have no inherent value, because they manufactured cheaply and in great quantity. See our jewelry guide titled “Jewelry as an Investment” for more information valuing jewelry. Thanks again.

  2. How does gold plated or gold filled jewelry last or wear over time compared to a pure 14k gold necklace.Will it tarnish quickly? I am talking about yellow gold. I am considering a 3 letter monogram necklace.

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog. All jewelry will eventually wear down with use. The amount of wear depends on the use and care of the item. When solid gold wears down, there is more solid gold beneath, so it does not change color or luster (unless there is plate over the gold – e.g. rhodium plate). Gold filled jewelry will usually last 10-20 years with regular use – once its worn, the underlying brass/copper will show through. Gold plated jewelry wears down rather quickly, exposing the metal beneath – even a year of regular use is enough to wear off the plating. However, many modern pieces of gold plated jewelry are sealed with an epoxy based lacquer that greatly increases the durability of the plating.

  3. Hello, I had a question regarding a cash for gold situation. Does this concept include filled, layered &/ electroplated pieces? I’ve never sold any & have broken pieces…

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Many well established “cash for gold” shops will buy gold filed jewelry. I do not know of any shops that currently buy gold plated jewelry. If you run an ad on craigslist, you can easily sell the gold plated jewerly to home-based hobby refiners, but you have to have a fairly substantial amount to make it worth their time. Thanks again.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! The ring likely have some inherent gold value. Often the gold shell makes up 1/4 of the total weight of the item. However, you might do better if you sell it as an antique. Without seeing it, I would imagine the value is in the range of $50-$100.00

  4. Rose gold color mans wedding band marked 14kt then next to that in a circle stamped with 2 capital letters GH what does this mean?

  5. Hi. Is it possible for a 1/20th 12k gold filled chain to test positive for 10k gold with the acid test? I took an old chain to a gold store thinking it was real gold. The guy there told me it was 10k but I thought it was 12k. He did another acid test and then discovered that it was gold 12k gold filled. The clasp had broken off so there were no markings.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Yes, definitely. Gold filled items need to be carefully tested. The outer layer of gold is often thick enough to fool a scratch test. The dealer needs to do an abrasive scratch test where she actually cuts through the outer layer. It sounds bad, but it can be done with minimal damage.

  6. Hi there I was wondering, someone is selling a ring that they are claiming is 12.5 k gold online is there such a thing and what is the value?

    • Hi and thanks for your question! It is possible. Many artisan jewelers (including people in my own shop) blend their own custom gold alloys. It would be unlikely to find a mass manufactured piece in that Karat weight. However, sometimes when a dealer is using acid tests, the piece will fall between 12K and 14K and they will estimate it at 12.5K. Also, some people still use cheap electronic testers (diode based) that give notoriously false results. Thanks again, Zowie

    • Marina disse:Lolo, eu acho q explicação mais simples: sexo biológico é diferente de gênero..Óbvio que as pessoas nascem ou mulher ou homens geetitcamnnee..Quem tem cromossomo Y eh homem genético ( e digo quem tem cromossomo Y é Homem e não XY pois existem homens XXY, assim como mulheres XXX), mas não necessariamente homem no gênero, nas escolhas, no sentimento..Acho q pensando assim facilita o entendimento dessa causa…

  7. Hi. I have a brass gold plated cuff set with stones. It’s way too small for my wrist, even my sons. Can such a bracelet be stretched out so to fit a larger wrist? Thank you!

    • Hi and thanks for your question. It can be stretched out, but it is possible that you will lose some of the gold plating. It depends on how the gold was applied, but there will usually be at least minor loss. If it is a sentimental piece, it can be refinished once it is sized. You would need a skilled jeweler with a bracelet mandrel and an plating kit.

    • Hi and thanks for your question. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. We are short staffed this month. I cannot see the item (the link is dead — probably my fault for waiting so long!), but I’ve never had a problem with buying precious metal items on Etsy.

  8. hi there, I am very happy i stumbled across this blog but anyways I sell rings on eBay and hopefully you can answer my question…recently I came across a customer that noted that my 18k Gold plated over brass ring i sold her is for some reason attracted to her magnet… I decided to do the same test and some research and realized this fact and also the fact that Gold plated jewelry shouldn’t be attracted to a strong earth magnet. I even asked my supplier and he noted that non of his rings are attracted to magnets but after that initial email he stop responded to me. I have been selling these rings for a long time without complains until now and they are my best selling rings on ebay. these are wedding band rings but the rings seems to be of very good quality and very lustful look and feel to it so these rings can’t be cheaply made… I just want to know what kind of metal inside of the ring is often responsible for the ring to be attracted to magnet? maybe i may have a chance to edit my listing, but nevertheless i may have to find another supplier and quit business with this supplier. Thanks in advance

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Rare earth magnets are great, but they will weakly attract a number of different metals including nickel, cobalt and iron. Traces of these metals are present in many different alloys. It is quite possible that the ring has a brass base, a nickel layer and then a gold layer. A very strong magnet will attract even that thin layer of material. I would explain in the listing that the rings are a brass alloy with a gold finish and just say ‘the brass alloy contains trace amounts of other metals and may be weakly attracted to a strong magnet” — that should do it! Thanks again.

  9. hi, could you tell me
    1. what 010 WOC means, stamped on the bridge of edwardian spectacles ?
    2. on a pair of georgian spectacles, supposed to be gold, small18 and further away a large P ?
    both pairs are british.
    thank you.

      • Ett Ett: You know me to well 😉 Jeg har det rigtig godt! HÃ¥ber jeg ogsÃ¥ du har :)Marie My: Ja, det er virkelig lÃtaGer¦!Glimmerklkm: OgsÃ¥ mig 😀

  10. Hi. I obtained a gold rope bracelet that is marked 14k SG. I tried the magnet test on it and the bracelet is attracted to the magnet.ie not gold…what does SG mean? Thanks so much.

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog. We are not familiar with the mark “SG” and believe it to be a manufacturer rather than a quality indicator. Also, is the magnet sticking to the clasp, or to the chain itself? As you probably know, every clasp has a few small magnetic components (spring and pin) that will attract a magnet. Please feel free to send us a photo if you want.

  11. What does it mean when my box link chain says 14kt in one stamp then next to it in a different lighter stamp says GS I jeweler I bought it from sold me a $20,000 diamond GIA certified a $30,000 Breitling trustworthy so far. He says it stands for Goldstar one of the best jewelry companies in the world the chain is beautiful solid gold 248 grams ox links style heavy but don’t look it bite is very long. Sat in his shop for a year and a half that I know of cause I wanted it but I read GS can Mean gold shell. I had it tested five times and not a hesitation they will buy it every time I till I pointed out gs then one place only wanted to cut into it. You can scratch the balls off of it and a test real. It’s a very expensive shop on South Street and famous Philadelphia Street. It’s where all the famous jewelry stores are. Do you guys think ?

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog. The GS in this case is almost certainly the manufacturers mark and not a purity indicator. I would assume the piece is solid 14K Gold. Thanks again.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Without seeing a picture, it is hard to tell. But my first guesss would be that its actually a “U” with an arrow going through it and it looks like two “t”. The U with the arrow is a mark for the Uncas manufacturing company. You can find all of their marks on the illusion jewels constume jewelry research site. Uncas made sterling silver and base metal jewelry. Thanks again and please feel free to send us a photo.

    • hi and thanks for your question! Most black gold pieces have a thin layer of black material over the gold. The black will almost always wear off with use and age unless it sealed under a very hard oxide coating.

  12. Hi, What do modern quality watchmakers, link Longines, Omega, etc, use on their non-100% gold watch cases? Cheap Plating? Rolled Gold? The applied gold doe tend to look like solid gold and does last and last. To the point I think it may not be work buying anything that is “solid” gold. Thanks.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Most fine watches use a heavy gold plate on stainless steel. The gold plate is usually thick enough to withstand many, many years of use. Sometimes it is also sealed under a clear oxide layer for additional protection.

    • Je dirais que le dernier dessin représente plutôt le fait que l’on peut être mulÃocinnectt© (câbles à foison) et pourtant ignorer la personne humaine juste à côté.

  13. what should i do if i was sold a gold chain that was supposedly 14k (bought online), but arrived with the GF marking? I asked the seller specifically if it was solid gold or gold filled and he said it was absolutely not gold filled, it was gold.

    i don’t want to test it in a way that would damage the piece so i can try to return it.

    ps. i paid more than $100 for this gold chain. if it is gold filled, is this a good price to pay? i was willing to do it for gold but not sure it is worth it for gold filled.. thanks!

    • hi and thanks for reading our blog! If the piece is marked 14K G.F. then I agree with you that it is almost certainly gold filled. If you can tell me the lenght, width and weight, I can confirm for you whether or not it is gold. Gold Filled pieces are substantially lighter than solid gold pieces. Well crafted heavy gold filled chains can easily exceed $100.00 in value when purchased new. Thanks again!

  14. I have a vintage heart pendant that has 50 small diamonds that make the heart shape. My question is, why is it stamped 925 CC but when tested it shows as platinum? The diamonds are real by the way.

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! Many pieces of sterling silver and diamond jewelry are platinum plated to add to the overall luster and appeal of the piece. It is possible that the platinum plating is resulting in a false test. Are you using platinum acid and a touchstone – or – a an electronic tester?

  15. Does Vermeil jewelry have to be stamped sterling. I buy and sell lots of vintage jewelry, but when I come across gold washed or plated jewelry that looks like it might have a base of silver but no markings I’m always perplexed. Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated. I have found estate jewelry before that was gold colored, but marked sterling and knew this to be Vermeil, and I know Sterling by law is supposed to be marked, but is vermeil?

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! We frequently encounter vintage vermeil pieces that are not marked in any way. This is not that uncommon, especially on american made pieces. It’s a wonderful thing to learn because you will have an edge at auctions and estate sales. Also, importantly, in the United States, manufacturers are not required to mark precious metal items. The applicable law (National Stamp Act) requires only that if a manufacturer (or artist) chooses to mark the item (or otherwise claim it is made of precious metal), then the mark must accurately correspond with the purity of the item and must be accompanied by the artist’s name or company’s trademark.

  16. Thanks for all the valuable information, however I do have a question even after reading everyone else’s. I have a wedding set that was my grandmother’s (I want to say from the 40’s) it’s marked karatclad 18kthgee, my question is can a ring from do long ago be white gold electroplated over yellow gold? There is a faint area where the yellow is showing up through the wear. The center stone is a diamond and the ring except for some wear on the inside of the band is in great shape.
    I don’t want to rule this one “junk” simply because of the stamp. Can you help enlighten me?
    Thank you!

    • Hi and thanks for reading out blog! My instinct based on the mark is that the piece is white gold over brass. However, to answer your question – YES – it is quite possible to have a white gold ring that turns yellow as it wears. Here’s why — in the U.S., white gold can really mean two things — a true white gold alloy (which is really off-white at best) OR yellow gold with a thick rhodium/paladium plating. As the rhodium or paladium wears down, the yellow gold shows through. Most reputable jewelers can have these rings re-plated for you. Even the true white gold alloy rings are often plated because the white gold simply does not have the luster of natural white metals like rhodium, paladium and platinum. Thanks again!

  17. Hi I was given a ring by my mother in law but the engraved bit says 21″A18k. Can you tell me what type of gold it is or is it just gold metal?

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! I think what you are seeing is an Italian makers mark (e.g. 233 * VI) followed by the purity mark 18K (750/1000 parts gold). If you send us a picture, I can get a better idea. Thanks again!

  18. I have a gold coloured ring set with green coloured stone surrounded in a rectangle with small clear stones. The only marking says 12 k
    I think the ring originated in the Middle East.
    Any ideas what it is please?

    • Hi and thanks for your question. The mark 14kt indicates that the item is 14 Karat Gold and should be approximately 58% gold by weight. The Italy mark indicates the piece was manufactured in Italy.

  19. Hello hello. Nice read. I like the break down a lot and think I may have one more for you. Do you happen to know what 10K PRIDE means? I have a ring that looks like gold and is stamped 10K PRIDE on the inside of the band. Do you know what purity this would stand for? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you thank you.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! I believe the “pride” portion is a manufacturer’s mark. Most jewelry marked in the US will have the gold content indicated followed by or preceded by a manufacturer’s name or mark. For example “18K Tiffany & Co.”. You can search U.S. Trademarks for a jewelry company that uses that mark if you want to know for certain. We do not recognize the term “Pride” as being metal content indicator.

  20. hello,
    I recently found a gold herringbone necklace and bracelet at a yard sale. Both were marked Italy 14K. I took them to the jeweler and they claim its gold filled. Is that possible that it is marked 14K yet is only gold filled? I know a little bit about gold and buying it however, I never came across a piece that was marked improperly. Thanks

    • Hi and thanks for reading out blog. I think it would be unusual for the piece to be marked “14K Italy” and be gold filled. There are plenty of counterfeit piece stamped “14K Italy” but they are usually gold plated. I can’t see why a counterfeiter would bother to use more expensive gold filled chain for a fake. My best guess is that the pieces are either gold plated and falsely stamped 14K or the jeweler made an error.

  21. I bought a ring that’s supposed to be 14k white gold but it doesn’t have any stamp. I performed an acid test and it checked out okay. Why wouldn’t it be marked? I got it from an estate sale.

    • Hi and thanks for reading out blog! It is not uncommon for rings to be missing a mark. If the ring is an antique, the mark may have worn off (very common – sometimes you can see a faint trace of it). Also, if the mark was originally placed on the bottom inside or bottom shoulders of the ring, it may have been lost during a resizing. When rings are made smaller, the goldsmith will actually remove a portion of the ring. Finally, it’s possible that it was an artisan piece that simply was never marked. In the USA, you are not required to mark jewelery. The law only kicks in if you do elect to mark it. Then you must add a trade mark and be certain that the piece is within a narrow tolerance of the indicated purity. Thanks again and let me know if you have any more questions. Zowie

      • My next question is in regards to performing an acid test. I bought the acid test online and carried out the test by rubbing the ring on the black stone that came in the kit. However, now, the ring is not smooth where I rubbed it on the stone and looks yellowish. The ring is white gold and checked out as such using the acid test. Is the layer I rubbed off merely the rhodium plating which makes it shiny and the yellowish gold underneath is the actual white gold? FYI, it’s simply a wedding.

  22. hello,
    I have a bracelet that is 1/2″ X 7″ and I can’t tell if it is pure gold or gold plate/filled if either. The underside of the clasp shows 14 (no K) and L56 in an oval. It does have substantial weight, but I can’t find anything on the web regarding L56. Can you help me with this?

  23. i have a gold chain that i bought from a friend. I Had it tested one time with acid. The person said real 14kt gold. On the clasp it has “14kt” and underneath the 14kt there is ”G.S.” I always thought it was the makers mark. Today I looked online and saw that some say it means ”gold-shell” (never heard this before) which is like gold-filled ”GF”. But then some of them say “gold-shell” would be spelled out, not abbreviated on the piece of jewelry. Now in confused and worried. So my question is: does ”GS” mean gold-shell or is it the makers mark?

    • opps…. I thought it was called the ”clasp”. i dont know what the part is called. On a figaro necklace, both ends have a special ending piece/part. This is where the hallmarks are usually at and sometimes on the other side it might say where it was made (example; made italy). It looks like this;


      sorry for the confusion hunterridge

      • He didn’t do it for free. Until somebody pays him, the road dose8&#n217;t get built. In addition, the rich guy could do the labor if he wanted; the poor guy with the shovel can’t fund himself.

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog! Gold Shell is an uncommon but recognized mark for jewelry that is not solid gold. Usually it appears on vintage pieces and is accompanied by a fraction denominating the portion of the piece (by weight) that is gold. For example “1/4 Gold Shell”. However, there are at least two manufacturers of gold jewelry that use the mark G.S.. Please send my colleague (rudy@hunterridgeacquisitions.com) detailed photos of the end of the necklace including the clasp and chain-end on which the mark appears.

  24. I got a ring for my birthday and it didn’t fit, so I thought i’d take it in the jewelry store to resize it. Unfortunately the lady at the jewelry store thinks its gold plated and she can’t resize it, but it says 14k on the ring. how can I tell if the ring is real gold or gold plated even if it says 14k on the ring?

    • Hi and thanks for reading our blog. As you already know, the 14K mark indicates that the piece is supposed to be at least 58.5% gold. These marks are usually applied in one of two ways – they are cast directly into the piece when it is made or they stamped on the piece with a steel tool after the piece is made. These steel tools can be purchased cheaply on various websites so the mark cannot always be trusted. A competent jeweler should be able to quickly and safely test the ring with a scratch test. If there is a “we buy gold” store in your area, take it there for an opinion an what it’s worth. The shop owner will test the ring for free. You are not obligated to sell it to the shop. If you cannot get to a jeweler or gold store, there are a few things you can try at home. The most reliable home testing method (assuming you don’t have your own test kit) is to take a specific gravity reading. As long as the ring is solid (not hollow) this is a reliable test. It requires a scale and graduated cylinder or beaker (any chemistry student in highschool or college should be able to borrow one from the lab). You can google “gold specific gravity test” for a number of step by step guides. The other option, which is less reliable, is to use a piece of fine sand paper to gently remove the surface of the ring in an incospicuous spot. If the metal beneath is not gold colored, then you can be fairly certain that it is not gold. If the metal beneath is gold colored, then it may be brass. After you have sanded away an area of the surface, put a drop of Draino on the sanded spot. If it darkens overnight, then it is almost certainly brass and not Gold. Thanks again for reading our blog and for your question. I hope this information is helpful.

  25. I bought a ring that is marked 18KGB which I understand is gold bonded. What is gold bonded mean? It has cubic zirconias in a beautiful mounting. Is it worth anything?

    • Hi – thanks for your question and for reading our blog. Bonded gold most often consists of a thin layer of gold ( in this case 18K gold) over sterling silver. The ring does have value. Without seeing a picture, it’s hard to assess the value. If it’s an attractive piece, I would think anywhere from 25-50 dollars would be fair as a resale and probably 65-120 as new.

  26. What does T80 on silver color mean? the piece has eastern makers mark, i tested it with silver test solution and the metal turned a dark brown, when i tested it with 14/22k gold solution the metal turned black and left a stain. the pieces are quite old ankle bracelet’s the type that jingle and have very intricate design, ‘could they be white gold’? I found the site to be very useful and intresting

    • Hi – these sound like interesting pieces. I do not think they are white gold but they may very well be mid to low grade silver. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several cultural groups melted down approximately 50% silver coins for the purposes of making jewelry (e.g. Bedouins) . Please send us a picture of the pieces. Thanks for reading our blog!

  27. Some gold plated pieces from France and Switzerland are marked “plaque or” followed by the number of microns thick the gold plating is.

  28. Hello,
    I realize this post is a few months old but I stumbled across it when search for some information. Your post is very informative. I have come across a wristwatch that dates to between 1915 and 1922. It had a lot of green goo (verdigris) on it but when clean up there was no damage to the surface metal. Upon examining the interior of the watch case, the inside of the back of the watch and the inside of the watch case tested positive for at least 10k solid gold. The EXTERIOR metal, which has a color more like a coppery rose gold did NOT test for solid gold. Is it possible that a sold gold watch case would be “plated” with a rose gold colored alloy? This seems very strange. There are initials engraved in the surface metal and when looked at through a loop the inside of the engraving is yellow gold. 1. Have you heard of solid yellow gold being plated with an alloy to give it a different color gold? 2. Would the green stuff have come from the alloy surface metal and why so much, and why did it not cause damage to the metal?
    If you read this message and respond, it would be dearly appreciated. Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi and thanks for your question! We have a locket in the store that is constructed entirely of 14K yellow gold with an alternating rose and white gold finish. We very often encounter vintage white gold pieces that are actually solid yellow gold that is only finished in white (as opposed to a white gold alloy). With these pieces, though, the plating is gold (or rhodium / platinum) rather than a base metal alloy. I have not yet encountered a piece of solid gold that was plated with a base metal.

      My guess, however, is that the particular watch you are examining is heavy gold-filled. The gold on the exterior likely wore off, revealing a copper alloy beneath, while the interior was preserved. Watch cases sometimes have such a heavy layer of gold filling that they test as solid gold until you file through the exterior “crust”. The case should be marked on the inside – possibly “Guaranteed” or “20 Years” or “10 Years” or “Permanent” or a picture of two scales– these are all references to the amount of time the gold filled coating was expected to last.

      The greening on the watch likely results from copper oxidation. Gold filled items can oxidize green and then be washed in soapy water and look like they were never oxidized. This is another hint that the case is not solid gold.

      If you are not concerned about the collectible or aesthetic value of the watch case, then take a thin file and file a notch in the case. Then apply test acid. If foams and turns green, you can be certain it is not solid gold. I hope this is helpful and thanks for reading our blog. If you find out anything else about the watch, please do post it here — especially if you find out that it is solid gold. I am very curious to hear how it turns out! Good luck.

    • I just asked someone today what S80 siood for, , and they did not know. Thanks for your answer. Isgold overlay the same as gold plated?

      • Hi and thanks for your question! Gold Overlay means different things to different people and we try to avoid the term. Technically, overlay requires that a sheet of gold be “laid” over the base metal. The sheet can be incredibly thin, but must be an actual sheet of gold (as opposed to electroplate). The sheet is supposed to comprise at least 1/20th of the weight of the item. Gold filled / and “Rolled Gold Plate” use the same standard and technique. In traditional Hopi Jewelry, gold overlay jewelry can incorporate a substantial amount of gold. For instance, a 1.5mm thick sheet of solid gold might be laid over a sterling silver base to craft a cuff bangle. On the “internet” it is often used as a friendly sounding substitute for “gold plated”.

    • Hi again and thanks for your question. “S80” is not a registered or recognized fineness mark in any country we are familiar with. There are a number of countries around the world that use 80% silver and frequently mark these with a three digit fineness mark (“800”) for 800/1000 parts silver. Russia did use a two digit fineness mark for a number of years, but “S80” was not one of the marks used. Finally, be weary of S80 items originating from China and South East Asia. While China and South East Asia produce some of the most beautiful jewelry in the world, countries in this region use the mark S80 to denote Silver Plated items.

    • Hi Misty and thanks for your question. Gold filled jewelry can be accurately tested with a touch stone. Use broad streaks on your touch stone and make several passes. Then apply test acid (we recommend 14K for this type of testing). If the item is gold filled, most of the streaks will dissolve but the first few should remain. This is because the outer layer is sold gold but the interior is base metal.

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