Gold! It’s a precious commodity but how do you know if you have the real thing? Perhaps you’re settling an estate and looking at your grandmother’s jewelry, gold thimbles or coins. Perhaps you’re at an estate sale or thrift store and spy what you THINK is gold. How can you tell?
Here are some tips that may help!
First, realize that there are three type of precious metals: Platinum, gold and silver. Today we’ll be focusing on Gold, which also has three appearances: yellow gold (the natural color) can be altered by adding zinc or nickel to create white gold, and adding copper results in rose gold.
Next is the purity of gold, which is measured in carats (example: 24k is 99.9% gold). And the higher the purity, the higher in value as a piece of jewelry and on the gold market. Modern jewelry is hallmarked as follows:
Purity Hallmark Purity % Hallmark
It’s important to note that some countries use the purity percentage hallmark. For example, Italian gold often bears the hallmark of 750, etc. So don’t dismiss these numbers!
And just because a piece doesn’t have a hallmark doesn’t mean it isn’t gold. Many antiques or sized rings for example, don’t bear a hallmark. This is where an authorized appraiser can help: we have testing chemicals to determine whether the piece is a precious metal, and if gold, what karat.
You might see other identifying marks as well. Use this cheat sheet to become familiar with what you are seeing:
GF Gold fill: A base metal with a bonded alloy layer of 10k or more
GP Gold plate: A base metal with a thin layer of gold plated to the surface
GEP Gold electroplate: A base metal with a thin layer of gold electrochemically plated to the surface
RG Rolled gold: A base metal rolled in a thin coating of gold
RGP Rolled gold electroplate
HGE Heavy gold electroplate
*925, Sterling Vermeil: Silver coated in a thick gold alloy layer of 14k or more
*or any other silver mark on a gold surface
If you suspect you have a collection of gold items, please contact me! I can help you get these items appraised for insurance coverage, estate settlement, brokerage and more. Realize that if you take these items to an unknown entity (perhaps a pawn shop or jewelry liquidator), you may not be getting the full value of its worth, as certain entities buy gold or silver to sell at “scrap” values. I can help you find the right way to handle your particular situation. Keep in mind, gold and silver values at present are strong!