Gold Hallmarks & Stamps: What do they Mean? Fake or Real?

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These items were photographed by AumiaGoldandSilverJewelry. All items are genuine solid gold.
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These items were photographed by AumiaGoldandSilverJewelry. All items are genuine solid gold.

Introduction

Dealing with jewelry on a daily basis I am frequently asked by both customers, friends and family, "How do you KNOW it's real?"  Sometimes, the simplest answer is the best answer, "I just do..." Otherwise, you will have to explain this (below) to anyone who asks. I'm just kidding...you don't need to do that. But in all honestly, knowledge is power. The more you understand, the better you can explain things. I love teaching this stuff. A lot of people don't know about this, so it is always neat to hear or see their expression when they try to fully understand what I am saying. 

Now, before we start, let's toss out genuine gold that isn't marked. That's a whole new ballgame and not for this guide. This guide is for those that have a piece of gold that is stamped with some crazy letters inside and you are not sure if it is fake or real right? If not..well, you'll learn something, I hope? :)  Go to the selected topic to find what your piece could mean!  It is a long guide, no need to read it all. Here is a quick tip. Hold down your control key or CTRL key and at the same time press 'F' this is a 'find option.' Type your letters in the search bar and hopefully it is on this list. Its a quick helpful tip to find your stamp in a hurry

If you don't find your item on this list, it dose not necessary mean it is fake or real. It could be something 'special'. Best to ask, I am sure many of us eBayers are more than willing to help :)  If you found this guide helpful, give it a thumbs up. If not...well, move along now. :)  Just remember Carrots are bunnies. Carats are for gemstones (sometimes gold) but KARAT is for the fineness of your pretty gold item. 

Common Marks for Genuine Gold

All this information can be found online for free or here too! But when I first started selling and buying jewelry I ran into some crazy letters. I am referencing a website that I have and still use if I come across a stamp I am not familiar with. I hope it helps you too.

Gold jewelry from the U.S. is normally marked with a karat designation (with a K). This measurement is based on parts per 24; so 14k gold is actually 14/24ths gold purity or 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy such as brass. 
  • 480PM contains 25 percent gold 25% gold, 21% Silver, 2% Palladium and 52% alloy, sold at some department stores
  • 6K or YellOraontains 25 percent gold. 25% gold, 21% Silver, 2% Palladium and 52% alloy, sold at some department stores
  • 8K contains 33 percent gold 333 parts per 1000 gold, foreign gold, most often marked 333
  • 9K contains 37 percent gold 375 parts per 1000 gold, this is common in the United Kingdom (England)
  • 10K, 10KT, 10Kt contains 41 percent gold 417 parts per 1000 gold, harder gold for men's jewelry
  • 10KP 10K plumb, same as 10K The term "10K plumb pure" was used in the 70s & 80s, and is no longer used
  • 12K  see note* contains 50 percent gold. 500 parts per 1000 gold, *most of the time associated with gold filled, (see 12K GF) or dental gold & gold crowns which are about 12K gold
  • 14K, 14KT, 14Kt contains 58 percent gold 585 parts per 1000 gold, more delicate gold for ladies jewelry
  • 14KP 14K plumb, same as 14K The term "14K plumb pure" was used in the 70s & 80s, and is no longer used
  • 18K, 18KT, 18Kt contains 75 percent gold 750 parts per 1000 gold, more delicate gold for ladies jewelry
  • 20K contains 83 percent gold 833 parts per 1000 gold, softer, bendable gold, I do not recommend for jewelry
  • 22K contains 92 percent gold 916 parts per 1000 gold, softer, bendable gold, I do not recommend for jewelry
  • 23K contains 96 percent gold 958 parts per 1000 gold, softer, bendable gold, I do not recommend for jewelry
  • 24K or 9999 contains 99.99 percent gold 999 parts per 1000 gold, this is very bright in color and is naturally malleable
  • K24 a jewelry company Contains no gold, this is a name of a jewelry maker, not gold
  • Dental gold unmarked dental gold. Dental gold is a minimum of 12K gold, which is 50% pure gold. 12K (up to 14.8K) gold has a like hardness of human teeth and is best suited for dental use.
  • KP means karat plum (pure) Was used in the 70s & 80s to mean a full carat pure or plum and is no longer used. Do NOT confuse with KTP which means plated.

Common Marks for Foreign Gold

European countries mark gold with numerical fineness marks in parts per thousands, for example: 375, 417, 585, 750, etc. for gold. The makers initials or symbols may be used before or after these numbers.
  •   333 same as 8K 333 parts per 1000 gold
  •   375 same as 9K 375 parts per 1000 gold
  •   410 or 417 same as 10K 410-417 parts per 1000 gold
  •   583 or 585 same as 14K 583-585 parts per 1000 gold
  •   750 same as 18K 750 parts per 1000 gold
  •   800 19.2K 800 parts per 1000 gold
  •   916 same as 22K 916 parts per 1000 gold
  •   960 same as 23K 960 parts per 1000 gold
  •   990 same as 24K 990 parts per 1000 gold
  •   999 same as 24K 999 parts per 1000 gold
  •   9999 same as 24K 999 parts per 1000 gold

General Gold Plate Marks

Gold plate is a very thin plating (covering) of gold (about 1/1000 - 1/1,000,000 of an inch). Heavy gold electroplate might be 2 or 3/1000s of an inch thick.  
  • 14KHGE 14 karat heavy gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of 14K gold
  • 18KGE 18 karat gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of 18K gold
  • 18KHGE 18 karat heavy gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of 18K gold
  • 24KGB or 24K GB 24 karat gold bonded same as plated
  • 24KTGP or 24 KTGP 24 karat gold plated plated with a thin layer of 24K gold
  • Clad in gold covered in gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Electroplate electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Electroplated electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Electroplating electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • EP electro plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • GE gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • GEP gold electro plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Gold Clad or Clad in Gold gold electro plate plated with a thin layer of 18-24K gold
  • Gold Layered gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Gold Plated gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • GOLD PLTED gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Gold Tone gold color applied covered in gold color, not gold plating
  • GP gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • HE heavy electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • HGE heavy gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • KARATCLAD karat clad in heavy gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • KGB karat gold bonded another way of saying plated
  • KGP karat gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • KHGE karat heavy gold electroplate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • KTP karat plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Layered layers of gold applied plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Overlay gold overlay plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • Plated plated plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • TB technibond a layer of gold covering, bonded to the base metal
  • Technibond technibond a layer of gold covering, bonded to the base metal
  • Vermeil gold plate over sterling gold plate over sterling silver
  • WGP white gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
  • YGP yellow gold plate plated with a thin layer of gold, usually 18K
    

Gold Filled & Rolled Gold Are A Type Of Very Thick Covering

Gold Filled  -  Rolled Gold  -  Rolled Gold Plate  -  Rolled Gold Filled These interchangeable terms refer to the same manufacturing process: a thin sheet of gold that is laminated/bonded to a lesser metal (usually brass). The two layers of metal are heated under pressure to fuse them together. The result is a piece of jewelry that (in most cases) has a gold covering with 5% (1/20th) of 12 karat gold compared to gold plating that has a tiny gold covering of about 2/1000ths (of an inch). The math on actual gold scrap recovery is: 1/20th 12K GF is (1/20th is 5% and 12K is 50% pure gold) = 2.5% pure gold recovery, by weight.
     
  • 1/8 1/8th gold covering covered in 1/8th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/10 10K 1/10th gold covering covered in 1/10th, 10K gold, by total weight
  • 1/10 1/10th gold covering covered in 1/10th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/14, 10K 1/14 1/14th gold covering covered in 1/14th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/20 1/20th gold covering covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/20 GF 1/20th gold covering covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/30 1/30th gold covering covered in 1/30th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 1/30-14K R.G.F. 1/30th 14K gold filled covered in 1/30th, 14K gold, by total weight
  • 1/30-14K R.G.P. 1/30th 14K gold filled covered in 1/30th, 14K gold, by total weight
  • 1/40 1/40th gold covering covered in 1/40th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 12K GF 1/20th 12K gold filled covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • 14K 14/20 GF 14/20th 14K gold filled covered in 14/20th or 7/10ths 14K gold, by total weight
  • DBL GF double gold filled the gold layer is applied to both sides of the base metal
  • GF gold filled covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • Gold Filled gold filled covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • RG rolled gold covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • R.G.F. or RGF rolled gold filled covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • R.G.P. or RGP rolled gold plate covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • Rolled Gold rolled gold covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  •  Guaranteed 5, 10, 20, or 25 years** on gold filled watches covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
  • Warrantied 5, 10, 20, or 25 years** on gold filled watches covered in 1/20th, usually 12K* gold, by total weight
* The covering from 1/8th to 1/40th and/or the gold purity mark (karat) from 10k - 14k may vary, both should be stated on the jewelry
 ** Guaranteed or Warranted are used to guarantee the quality of gold filled watch cases, the higher the years, the thicker the gold.

Additional Descriptions For Genuine Gold

The colors of gold below, do not effect the karat or purity of what is marked on the jewelry, except the last one.
  • Yellow gold yellow colored gold normal karat gold with brass alloy to give the metal a rich gold color
  • YG yellow colored gold same as above, should be accompanied with a karat mark like 14K YG
  • White gold silver colored gold same as normal karat gold with nickel & palladium alloy
  • WG silver colored gold same as normal karat gold with nickel & palladium alloy
  • Rose gold pink or red colored gold same as normal karat gold with copper alloy to give the metal a red color
  • Green gold green colored gold same as normal karat gold with silver alloy to give the metal a green color
  • Gold Post just the post is gold the rest of the earring is not gold
  • Black Hills gold multi colored gold same as normal karat gold with a combination of the color techniques above
  • Black Hills silver has some gold applied to silver small gold embellishments applied to sterling silver jewelry, mostly silver not gold

Conclusion

Well, did you find your answer? I hope so! If you also don't see a mark that should be listed on here but its not, send me a message! I would be happy to update this list. I will also update it too if a new mark comes out. 

Please also understand that this guide and information is to be used as a helpful resource to determine the possible purity of your item,

This information is not meant to be set in stone, it should be used at your discretion. I will not and am not responsible for any type of misinterpretation or misuse of this information.  I have professional high grade testers and a certified licensed jeweler & watchmaker I use. You should always, always, test something to ensure authenticity before selling it or passing it to another person. 


This information is credited to  yesterdaysgems dot com
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