If you’re the kind of person who appreciates vintage and also antique jewelry, you’ve probably come across jewelry that’s described as “Gold”, “Gold Filled” “Gold Plated” or among a dozen various other phrases with words Gold in it. Once shopping for vintage and antique jewelry, whether on eBay or in your neighborhood antique mall, it’s crucial to understand the difference in between these common phrases. No all “Gold” is created equal.

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


Gold is an elemental metal. This way that pure gold is made up of nothing however gold atoms. Other examples of elemental metals encompass copper (made of nothing yet copper atoms); stole (made of nothing but iron atoms) and also aluminum (made of nothing however aluminum atoms). In its organic form, gold is orangish-yellow in color (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 also stretched easily with steel tools).


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

While not very common in the joined States, you will periodically encounter 20K, 21K and also 22K gold items. These are 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 system that shows the lot of pure yellow a communication of components of one thousand. Because that example, if other is 18K gold (75% pure gold) then it is 750 components out of 1000 pure gold. The a fraction – 750/1000 = 0.75 or 75%. In the Numeric marking System (sometimes referred to as the “European System” or “Convention System”) you usage the very first number. So things that was 75% gold (18K in the Karat System) would just be marked 750. Similarly, an object that is 58.5% yellow (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 the 21K Gold


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

While most countries will use either the Karat System, Numeric device or a mix of both, a couple of countries still use a photographic hallmarking system. Hallmarks space slightly different from fineness marks since they show that the fineness the the metal has been approved by a governmental or quasi-governmental entity. Under a photographic hallmarking system, the lot of pure gold contained in a piece of jewelry is indicated by a specific snapshot or prize – for example – a common animal or the profile of a person. Contemporary jewelry will almost always likewise have a numeric marking in enhancement to the photographic hallmark. Neck pieces, however, will regularly have just a pictorial note or no note at all.

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

The an initial thing to save in mind below is that a fineness mark or hallmark is just a label placed on miscellaneous by a person or machine. While these marks space a good indication that something is actually gold, the mark is only as an important as the human who put it there. Anyone deserve to order a set of hallmarking stamps turn off a website and stamp non-gold v 14K, 18K, 750 or any other mark. The only means to recognize you are obtaining real yellow is come buy native a trusted dealer or test it yourself.

Gold have the right to be experiment in several various ways. In ours store, we use two methods – acid Testing and also X-Ray Fluorescence. They both have benefits and disadvantages. For an ext information ~ above gold experimentation – watch our short article “Gold trial and error Basics”.

Gold Plated and Gold fill Jewelry

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

Gold Plated Jewelry:

Gold plated jewelry is no gold jewelry. Yellow plated jewel is jewel made of a base metal (e.g. Copper) or silver- that has actually a really thin layer of gold used to the top. The great is so thin, that it can usually it is in rubbed off v a outlet pencil eraser in a couple of swipes. Part plated jewelry has a “thicker” layer of yellow than various other plated jewelry, but the difference is insignificant on the grand scale of things. As soon as buying yellow plated jewelry, friend should think about the gold plating as nothing much more than a coloring (an aesthetic attribute) – there is practically no inherent value to the gold applied. It doesn’t matter if it’s 24K, 14K or 18K.

Example that a Designer gold Plated Bracelet with herbal Agate

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

14KGP — (Note: nothing confuse 14KGP with simply 14KP. 14KGP means 14K yellow Plate. 14KP way 14K Plumb – i m sorry is “dead ~ above exactly” aka “plumb” heavy 14K Gold) The “14” have the right to be substituted v 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.14K HGE — 14K heavy Gold Electroplate. This method the gold plating great was applied using electrolysis. The “14” deserve to be substituted with 10, 12, 18, 24 etc.24K yellow Plated — This way the plating layer is 24K gold. That usually shows electroplating.Vermeil — means gold plated sterling silver- or fine silver. It’s regular old yellow plating – except the underlying metal is sterling silver- of good silver instead of a base metal.Gold end Sterling Silver —Same together vermeil.Gold Wash — regular old yellow plating through a nicer name.Gold Clad / Karat Clad — In a technical sense – clad means that gold layer was press bound to the underlying basic metal. However, “gold clad” is a common synonym because that any form of yellow plating.Bonded gold — here again – this just means gold plated. Similar to all gold plated jewelry, some bonded gold jewelry has a thicker layer of gold plating 보다 others – however the distinction is negligible.10 Microns / or an additional number complied with by words microns or the symbol for micron “µ” – this means that the great of gold plating is 10 microns thickPlaque Or – usually followed by a number of Microns. This is watched on French / Swiss pieces, particularly watch cases. It way gold plated.

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Gold Filled jewelry

Gold filled jewel is not gold jewelry. Yellow filled jewelry is make by taking one or more sheets that solid gold (14K, 12K, 18K, etc) and wrapping them about a base metal under extreme pressure. The yellow sheets are properly “filled” through something various other than gold. Unlike yellow plated jewelry, yellow filled jewelry has actually a frequently measurable lot of actual yellow in it. Like gold plated jewelry, part gold fill jewelry has actually a thicker layer of yellow than other gold to fill jewelry. In some instances, the weight of the yellow is actually marked on the gold filled jewelry.

For example – mid 20th century and also later piece are really often marked 1/20 12K gold Filled. This method that 1/20 the the steel weight of the item is composed of 12K gold (remember the 12K gold itself is an alloy consists of only 50% gold – hence a 1/20 12K gold Filled article is 1/20 12K gold and also 1/40 pure gold). Typical gold filled point out include: