If she the kind of person who appreciates vintage and antique jewelry, you’ve more than likely come throughout jewelry that’s defined as “Gold”, “Gold Filled” “Gold Plated” or among a dozen various other phrases with the word Gold in it. When shopping for vintage and also antique jewelry, even if it is on eBay or in your local antique mall, it’s important to understand the difference in between these typical phrases. Not all “Gold” is produced equal.

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In order to gain a real knowledge of every these terms, you have to an initial understand part basics about gold itself.


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


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

While not very common in the unified States, you will sometimes encounter 20K, 21K and 22K gold items. These room usually of center Eastern (e.g. Kuwaiti) or much Eastern (e.g. Hong Kong) origin.

Outside the United states (and a few other western Countries), the leading fineness marking system is a numeric mechanism that suggests the quantity of pure gold a basis of components of one thousand. For example, if something is 18K gold (75% pure gold) then it is 750 components out that 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 to be 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 certainly be marked 585. Other usual markings are:

375 = 375/1000 or 9K Gold

875 = 875/1000 of 21K Gold


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

While most nations will use either the Karat System, Numeric mechanism or a mix of both, a few countries still use a pictorial hallmarking system. Hallmarks are slightly different from fineness marks due to the fact that they suggest that the fineness that the metal has actually been approved by a governmental or quasi-governmental entity. Under a photographic hallmarking system, the quantity of pure gold had in a piece of jewelry is suggested by a specific photo or prize – for instance – a common animal or the file of a person. Modern-day jewelry will virtually always also have a numeric noting in enhancement to the photographic hallmark. Antique pieces, however, will frequently have simply a pictorial note or no note at all.

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

The very first thing to store in mind here is that a fineness mark or hallmark is just a label placed on other by a human being or machine. While this marks space a an excellent indication the something is in reality gold, the note is just as beneficial as the human being who put it there. Anyone can order a collection of hallmarking stamps off a website and also stamp non-gold through 14K, 18K, 750 or any kind of other mark. The only method to know you are obtaining real gold is to buy from a trusted dealer or test it yourself.

Gold deserve to be experiment in several different ways. In our store, we usage two techniques – acid Testing and also X-Ray Fluorescence. Castle both have benefits and disadvantages. For more information top top gold testing – view our article “Gold trial and error Basics”.

Gold Plated and Gold filled Jewelry

Now the we recognize what gold and also gold alloys are, that time come talk around gold plated and also gold to fill jewelry.

Gold Plated Jewelry:

Gold plated jewelry is no gold jewelry. Yellow plated jewelry is jewel made of a base metal (e.g. Copper) or silver- that has actually a really thin great of gold used to the top. The layer is so thin, that it deserve to usually be rubbed off v a coarse pencil eraser in a few swipes. Part plated jewelry has actually a “thicker” great of gold than various other plated jewelry, yet the distinction is trivial on the grand range of things. As soon as buying yellow plated jewelry, you should consider the gold plating together nothing much more than a colour (an aesthetic attribute) – there is virtually no inherent value come the yellow applied. The doesn’t issue if the 24K, 14K or 18K.

Example that a Designer yellow Plated Bracelet with herbal Agate

This doesn’t median gold plated jewelry is “junk” or “uncollectible”. Come the contrary, much of the vintage and contemporary gold plated jewelry on the market is very desirable and also a pleasure to wear. Usual marks because that gold plated jewelry include:

14KGP — (Note: don’t confuse 14KGP with just 14KP. 14KGP way 14K yellow Plate. 14KP method 14K Plumb – i m sorry is “dead top top exactly” aka “plumb” solid 14K Gold) The “14” deserve to be substituted through 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.14K HGE — 14K hefty Gold Electroplate. This way the gold plating layer was used using electrolysis. The “14” have the right to be substituted through 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.24K gold Plated — This way the plating layer is 24K gold. The usually shows electroplating.Vermeil — means gold plated sterling silver or good silver. It’s constant old yellow plating – except the underlying metal is sterling silver of fine silver instead of a basic metal.Gold end Sterling Silver —Same as vermeil.Gold Wash — constant old gold plating with a nicer name.Gold Clad / Karat Clad — In a technical feeling – clad way that yellow layer was pressure bound come the underlying basic metal. However, “gold clad” is a usual synonym for any form of yellow plating.Bonded gold — below again – this just way gold plated. Similar to all yellow plated jewelry, some bonded gold jewelry has actually a thicker layer of gold plating 보다 others – however the difference is negligible.10 Microns / or one more number followed by words microns or the symbol because that micron “µ” – this method that the layer of gold plating is 10 microns thickPlaque Or – usually followed by a variety of Microns. This is checked out on French / Swiss pieces, especially watch cases. It means gold plated.

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Gold Filled jewel

Gold filled jewelry is not gold jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is do by acquisition one or an ext sheets the solid gold (14K, 12K, 18K, etc) and also wrapping them roughly a base metal under extreme pressure. The yellow sheets are properly “filled” with something various other than gold. Unlike gold plated jewelry, yellow filled jewelry has actually a commonly measurable quantity of actual yellow in it. Choose gold plated jewelry, part gold filled jewelry has actually a thicker layer of gold than various other gold to fill jewelry. In part instances, the weight of the gold is actually significant on the yellow filled jewelry.

For example – mid 20th century and also later piece are really often significant 1/20 12K yellow Filled. This means that 1/20 that the metal weight the the item consists of 12K yellow (remember the 12K gold itself is one alloy consist of of just 50% yellow – thus a 1/20 12K gold Filled item is 1/20 12K gold and 1/40 pure gold). Typical gold filled point out include: