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Learn How To Recognize Hallmarks

What is a Hallmark?

A hallmark is a stamp or marking on a piece of jewelry or gold that guarantees a minimum percentage of gold, silver, platinum or palladium present in the item. If the piece of jewelry is solid gold, silver, platinum, or palladium, then a hallmark will always be present, typically somewhere where it will not be visible when worn. This hallmark stamp can be on the inside of a ring band/shank, inside a pendant, or on the clasp of a chain.

There are various different types of gold jewelry, so you must examine the hallmark carefully to determine the value of your jewelry.

Major categories of metals you will encounter are:

Karat Gold
Gold Filled
Gold Plated
Palladium
Platinum
Silver
Vermeil

Karat Gold

Karat denotes the amount of gold by weight in an alloy, known as the fineness. One karat is 1/24th gold purity by weight, therefore pure or fine gold is known as 24 karat, or 24k for short. The popular jewelry alloys in the U.S.A. are:

22 karat or 22/24ths by weight of gold (91.67% pure gold) marked as 22K or 22kt
18 karat or 18/24ths by weight of gold (75.00% pure gold) marked as 18K or 18kt
14 karat or 14/24ths by weight of gold (58.53% pure gold) marked as 14K or 14kt
10 karat or 10/24ths by weight of gold (41.67% pure gold) marked as 10K or 10kt

In the United States,10 karat is the minimum recognized purity of an alloy that can be called "gold".

Outside the United States, jewelry manufacturers sometimes use a different system of purity marking. This system is a measure of the weight of fine gold in the object in parts per thousand.

Hallmark Identification Chart

Metal In USA, marked as: Outside the USA, marked as:
22 karat 22K or 22kt 917
18 karat 18K or 18kt 750
14 karat 14K or 14kt 585
10 karat 10K or 10kt 417
gold filled GF or 14kt GF  
gold plated GP or 18kt GP  
vermeil none  
silver sterling, ster, STR or 925  
platinum platinum, plat, or pt
900Plat or 900Pt (contains 90% pure platinum
850Plat or 850Pt (contains 85% pure platinum
platinum, plat, or pt
900Plat or 900Pt (contains 90% pure platinum
850Plat or 850Pt (contains 85% pure platinum
palladium Pall, PD, 950 Pall, or 950PD Pall, Pd, 950 Pall, or 950PD

Gold Filled

Gold filled, gold overlay, or rolled gold jewelry is not the same as karat gold jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is that which has a layer of karat gold (usually 10K minimum), bonded to another metal (typically a brass alloy). This is done to make less expensive jewelry, and the gold content is always lower than the other less valuable metal it is bonded to.

Gold filled jewelry can be marked "gold filled", "GF", or "14kt GF".

Gold Plated

For an object to be marked gold plated, it must be plated with a karat gold of minimum 10kt with a thickness of at least 0.5 microns (equivalent to about 20 millionths of an inch). Markings can be the minimum thickness and the karat used, again 10kt minimum (i.e., 5 microns 18kt GP).

Palladium

There is no actual hallmarking laws regarding palladium in the U.S. at present, but jewelers will mark palladium jewelry in much the same way as platinum, except using the marks "pall" or "pd" instead of "plat" or "pt".

Platinum

For an object to be called platinum, it must contain at least 95% pure platinum. So, if the words "Platinum", "plat" or "pt" are present, then it contains a minimum of 95% pure platinum. Alloys containing less than 95% pure platinum but 85% pure platinum or above will be marked with the parts per thousand number as follows:

900Plat or 900Pt (contains 90% pure platinum)
850Plat or 850Pt (contains 85% pure platinum)

If an object contains less than 85% pure platinum it will still be marked with the platinum content in parts per thousand. If your platinum jewelry has a mark you do not recognize here, email us and we can tell you the pure platinum content.

Silver

For an object to be marked as either solid silver or sterling silver, at least 92.5% of the object's total weight must be fine silver. The usual marks used are "sterling" or "925". In some cases objects may be marked "ster" or "str".

Vermeil

An object may be described as "vermeil" when it consists of a karat gold layer bonded or plated to sterling silver. As is always the case, the karat gold must be at least 10kt and in the case of vermeil the coating must be a minimum of 2.5 microns. If the coating is not a karat gold, an object may still be marked vermeil provided the base metal coating is disclosed.

Now that we were able to answer your questions, let's get started!
Still need help? Call us at 1-800-341-3560