If she the type of human being who appreciates vintage and antique jewelry, you’ve most likely come across jewelry that’s explained as “Gold”, “Gold Filled” “Gold Plated” or among a dozen other phrases with the word Gold in it. When shopping for vintage and antique jewelry, whether on eBay or in your regional antique mall, it’s crucial to know the difference in between these usual phrases. No all “Gold” is created equal.

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In order to acquire a real expertise of all these terms, you have to first understand part basics about gold itself.


Gold is an elemental metal. This method that pure gold is made up of nothing but gold atoms. Other instances of elemental metals include copper (made of nothing however copper atoms); iron (made that nothing however iron atoms) and also aluminum (made that nothing yet aluminum atoms). In its organic form, gold is orangish-yellow in shade (sometimes called “buttery” yellow), has a bright shine (high luster), is really soft (it scratches easily) and also is really malleable (it can be hammered and stretched quickly with steel tools).


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

While not an extremely common in the united States, friend will periodically encounter 20K, 21K and also 22K yellow items. These space usually of center Eastern (e.g. Kuwaiti) or much 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 system that shows the amount of pure yellow a basis of parts of one thousand. Because that example, if something is 18K gold (75% pure gold) then it is 750 components out that 1000 pure gold. The a fraction – 750/1000 = 0.75 or 75%. In the Numeric noting System (sometimes dubbed the “European System” or “Convention System”) you usage the very first number. So an object that was 75% yellow (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 usual markings are:

375 = 375/1000 or 9K Gold

875 = 875/1000 of 21K Gold


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

While most countries will usage either the Karat System, Numeric mechanism or a mix of both, a few countries still usage a photographic hallmarking system. Hallmarks are slightly various from fineness marks since they show that the fineness the the metal has actually been approved by a government or quasi-governmental entity. Under a pictorial hallmarking system, the amount of pure gold included in a item of jewelry is shown by a specific snapshot or prize – for instance – a common animal or the profile of a person. Modern jewelry will almost always additionally have a numeric marking in enhancement to the pictorial hallmark. Antique pieces, however, will frequently have just a pictorial mark or no note at all.

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

The very first thing to save in mind here is that a fineness note or hallmark is just a label put on something by a human or machine. While these marks are a great indication the something is actually gold, the mark is just as beneficial as the person who placed it there. Anyone have the right to order a set of hallmarking stamps off a website and stamp non-gold through 14K, 18K, 750 or any type of other mark. The only way to recognize you are acquiring real gold is to buy from a reliable dealer or check it yourself.

Gold deserve to be tested in several different ways. In our store, we usage two methods – mountain Testing and also X-Ray Fluorescence. Castle both have benefits and disadvantages. For more information ~ above gold testing – view our short article “Gold testing Basics”.

Gold Plated and also Gold fill Jewelry

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

Gold Plated Jewelry:

Gold plated jewel is no gold jewelry. Yellow plated jewel is jewel made that a base metal (e.g. Copper) or silver- that has actually a really thin layer of gold applied to the top. The layer is for this reason thin, the it can usually it is in rubbed off through a rough circuit pencil eraser in a couple of swipes. Some plated jewelry has actually a “thicker” layer of yellow than various other plated jewelry, but the difference is trivial 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 nearly no inherent value come the gold applied. It doesn’t matter if it’s 24K, 14K or 18K.

Example the a Designer gold Plated Bracelet with organic Agate

This doesn’t mean gold plated jewel is “junk” or “uncollectible”. Come the contrary, much of the vintage and contemporary gold plated jewel on the sector is really desirable and also a satisfied to wear. Common marks for gold plated jewel include:

14KGP — (Note: don’t confuse 14KGP with just 14KP. 14KGP means 14K gold Plate. 14KP means 14K Plumb – i beg your pardon is “dead top top exactly” aka “plumb” heavy 14K Gold) The “14” can be substituted v 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 with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.24K yellow Plated — This method the plating great is 24K gold. That usually suggests electroplating.Vermeil — method gold plated sterling silver or good silver. It’s consistent old yellow plating – other than the underlying metal is sterling silver of well silver instead of a basic metal.Gold over Sterling Silver —Same as vermeil.Gold Wash — continual old gold plating with a nicer name.Gold Clad / Karat Clad — In a technical sense – clad means that gold layer was press bound to the underlying base metal. However, “gold clad” is a common synonym because that any kind of yellow plating.Bonded yellow — here again – this just method gold plated. As with all gold plated jewelry, some bonded yellow jewelry has actually a thicker layer of gold plating 보다 others – yet the distinction is negligible.10 Microns / or one more number followed by words microns or the symbol for micron “µ” – this means that the layer of gold plating is 10 microns thickPlaque Or – usually followed by a number of Microns. This is watched on French / Swiss pieces, specifically watch cases. It means gold plated.

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Gold Filled jewelry

Gold filled jewelry is not gold jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is made by taking one or an ext sheets of solid gold (14K, 12K, 18K, etc) and also wrapping them approximately a base steel under intense pressure. The gold sheets are efficiently “filled” through something other than gold. Unlike gold plated jewelry, yellow filled jewelry has actually a commonly measurable quantity of actual gold in it. Choose gold plated jewelry, some gold to fill jewelry has a thicker class of gold than various other gold to fill jewelry. In some instances, the load of the gold is actually significant on the yellow filled jewelry.

For instance – mid 20th century and later pieces are really often marked 1/20 12K gold Filled. This way that 1/20 the the metal weight the the item is composed of 12K yellow (remember the 12K gold itself is an alloy consists of only 50% gold – thus a 1/20 12K gold Filled items is 1/20 12K gold and 1/40 pure gold). Usual gold filled point out include: