Gold jewelry is seen as a sign of wealth for most people, given the high value of the precious metal. In today’s hungry society, however, it is difficult to tell the real gold from the true gold. That is why real gold has stamped on them that indicates their purity.
You must be wondering, however, are all real gold jewelry stamped? Can you trust the stamps? In this post, you will find the answers to these questions as well as the meaning behind some of the common stamps you’re like to come across.
Common Stamps You Always See on Gold Jewelry (and Its Meaning)
Stamping of gold jewelry was introduced to tell apart the real ones from the fake ones. The stamps are meant to indicate the content and purity of gold in the jewelry. You’ll normally find the stamp on the clasp of a bracelet or necklace and the inner band of a ring.
In the US, gold is measured in Karats, hence the stamp will include the number of gold parts out of 24 parts followed by the letter “K”. Some stamps include the number per 1000 parts, for example, a 750 stamp, means 750 parts gold out of 1000 which is equivalent to 18k gold. In Europe, they use a decimal system to indicate the purity of gold. For example, .999 (100%) means that the gold is pure 24k gold.
There are other markings you may find included in the stamp after the karat. These markings are letters that give additional information about the jewelry. The common letters you’re likely to come across are “GP” (gold plated) or “GF” (gold-filled). The following is a summary of the meaning behind common stamps you’ll find on gold jewelry:
This stamp means that the jewelry is made of 10 parts out of 24 (41.7%) of gold mixed with 14 parts (58.3%) of other metal alloys.
The number 14 on a stamp means that the jewelry is made of 14 parts (58.3%) gold and 10 parts (41.7%) of other metal alloys.
This means that the jewelry contains 18 parts (75%) of pure gold and 6 parts (25%) of other metal alloys.
This stamp means that the gold contained in the jewelry is 22 parts (91.7%) mixed with 2 parts (8.3%) of metal alloys.
Is Real Gold Jewelry Always Marked? Why?
Most countries have some sort of law or regulation that requires vendors to stamp their gold jewelry with markings that indicate their purity. Although these regulations vary based on the country, it’s safe to say that real gold jewelry must always be marked in adherence to the law. This prevents the passing off of fake gold as real, an act that’s otherwise considered fraudulent and punishable by law.
In the US, the law governing the requirement of stamping on gold jewelry is the National Silver and Gold Marking Act found in the United States code. The law requires that each vendor must stamp all gold jewelry sold with a marking that indicated the karat number. The law also allows a deviation of 0.5karats between the actual purity of gold in the jewelry from the number stamped on the jewelry. That means that for a 14k stamp, the real purity of the gold jewelry should not be less than 13.5k.
In addition to the Karat number marking, the law also requires the producer or vendor of the jewelry to include their registered trademark. The inclusion of the trademark in the stamp is for quality assurance whereby the owner of the trademark is held responsible for the guarantee of quality indicated as the karat number. Any violation of this law means that the trademark owner will be the one to pay the monetary penalties or serve jail time.
Does a Stamp Guarantee That Your Gold Jewelry is Solid Gold?
While a stamp indicating the karat number of the gold jewelry can help you identify the purity of the gold, it is not a guarantee that the jewelry is solid gold.
For these, reason you should pay attention to other letterings or information that may be included in the stamp.
For example, “18K GP” doesn’t mean that the gold jewelry is fully made of 18K gold. Rather it indicates that the jewelry is made using another metal but plated with 18K gold.
Trust Gold Stamps or Not?
Gold stamps were put in place to prevent fraud. Although it is helpful, it is not a guarantee that the gold jewelry you buy is not a counterfeit. So, you can not completely trust the stamps you see on the jewelry.
The reason is that some stamps are incorrect in that a 14k stamp may be a 10k gold piece. The stamp could also be misleading especially if there no other letterings included. For instance, a 14k gold stamp could only be referring to the gold plating used on the jewelry.
The only way to trust the gold stamp on your jewelry is to test the purity of the gold. Also, ensure you buy the jewelry from a reputable jeweler, can trust.
Why Some Gold Jewelry is Not Stamped? What to Do?
It is possible to find gold jewelry that hasn’t been stamped. There are several reasons for this. To begin with, stamping was a method that was recently introduced, so it’s possible to find old gold pieces that haven’t been stamped. It could also be possible that the stamp may have worn off due to the jewelry being frequently worn. It is also possible that the gold isn’t real, to begin with.
Whichever the case, ensure you find out the true karat of a gold jewelry piece by testing its purity. There are various ways you can do this. Many jewelers offer the acid test to establish the karat of the gold. You could also try the magnet test since gold isn’t magnetic, therefore, the jewelry shouldn’t stick to the magnet.
Scratching the jewelry on a ceramic item is also an easy way of establishing its purity. Alternatively, you could use a gold testing kit and test the purity yourself. It is, however, better to avoid buying unmarked gold jewelry, especially if you’re unsure of the karat.
Can You Buy Gold Jewelry Not Stamped?
Not all unmarked gold jewelry is necessarily fake. As mentioned, old gold jewelry was not marked, and the stamp could have been worn out over time. In any case, the gold stamps are not a guarantee that the jewelry is real gold.
While it is not recommended, it is possible to buy unmarked gold jewelry. To avoid paying more than its value, however, ensure that you test the purity of the gold and find out the true karats.
Stamping of gold jewelry is a great way of telling fake ones from real ones. While the stamps can not be completely trusted, some laws regulate them, which have consequences when violated. In any case, there are other methods you can apply to establish the authenticity of the stamp.