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Friday, December 13, 2013

Common Jewelry Markings and What They Mean


Happy Friday. If you're about to head out to some tag sales this weekend, it might be a good time for a primer on jewelry markings and what they mean. You could be missing out on treasure! Literal treasure! Gold! ;)

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24K - Pure gold, or very very minor trace amounts of other metals to hold it together. Not seen on so many pieces of jewelry because it is incredibly soft.

18K - Gold that is 18/24, or 75%, pure. Seen on yellow, white, and rose gold.

14K - Gold that is 14/24, or about 58%, pure. Seen on yellow, white, and rose gold. Very common carat, very durable.

10K - Gold that is 10/24, or about 42%, pure. Common on children's jewelry; has a copper tinge.

750 - Gold that is 75% pure. Interchangeable with 18K.

585 - Gold that is 58.5% pure. Interchangeable with 14K.

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925 - Silver that is 92.5% pure. Interchangeable with Sterling. Sometimes you will see this on gold tone pieces; it means they are gold-plated over sterling.

800 - Silver that is 80% pure. Common on German & Eastern European pieces.

Sterling - Silver that is 92.5% pure.

HGE - Gold Electroplated over cheaper base metals.

HGF - Gold Filled. Interchangeable with HGE for most purposes. Also sometimes called vermeil.

If you have a question about a marking on a piece of jewelry, feel free to leave a comment below and I'd be happy to help!



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4 comments:

  1. Keeping this for reference for the next antiquing trip, thanks!

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  2. My pleasure. Bring a small magnet with you, too. Super quick way to identify what is definitely NOT precious. :)

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  3. Just noticed "830S Finland" for the first time on a favorite necklace I'm wearing today. Should I assume 83% pure? The Internet tells me that some Scandinavian silver stamped that way may be of a high er quality, but I'm not sure I trust the site. My piece has dangling pieces identical to those on the necklace in the following link, but is larger and more elaborate: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16302/lot/205/

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  4. Hey, Katie. Yep, you can assume it's about 83% pure. When countries form these standards they serve as minimums, meaning it is At Least 83% pure in your case. It's rare (because it's wasteful) but technically possible for the actual purity to be significantly higher. The piece in your link is definitely in the 83-percent range. You can tell by the slightly duller, grayer sheen the silver takes on. :) Sterling, when polished, is brighter and whiter. When nickel silvers tarnish, the oxidation is also typically whiter than the (blackish) tarnish you see on sterling.

    Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by.

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