How to Identify Gold Jewelry Markings

download-14An incredible 165,000 tonnes of gold has been mined till date, since the dawn of human civilization. Not surprisingly, a large fraction of it has been used up in the creation of jewelry items over the centuries. Every year about half of the gold mined over the world goes into creation of jewelry of all kinds, ranging from rings, earrings, necklaces to bangles and other exotic pieces of craftsmanship.

A consumer out there in the market, shopping for a gold ring or necklace for his wife, needs to know whether what he is paying for has pure gold in it or is it just another gold plated piece of junk. To verify the purity level of gold jewelry, a marking system is devised, which indicates the amount of pure gold that is contained within a jewelry item and authenticates its quality. In this Buzzle article, I provide you with an explanation of how to identify gold jewelry markings and verify the purity level of a piece of gold jewelry.

Measurement of Gold Purity

Gold being inherently soft, it cannot be directly molded into jewelry, without mixing it with other metals for strength. That’s why a quality grading system, which can measure the amount of pure gold contained within a gold jewelry item is necessary. There are two existing systems used for this purpose. Gold purity is measured in terms of karat value in the US. Karat value is a specification of the fraction of total weight of a gold item, that is pure gold. The gold of highest purity grading is 24 Kt, which means that it’s 99.99% pure gold.

The scale moves downwards, with 23 Kt, 22 Kt, 21 Kt up till 8 Kt grading. A 12 Kt piece of gold has 12 parts out of 24 by weight, to be pure gold. In Europe, an alternative system is used to measure gold purity, which uses ‘Millesimal Fineness’ as the measurement parameter. It measures purity of a gold jewelry in terms of parts of pure gold per thousand parts. Let us see how to read gold markings and verify its purity in the following lines.

How to Identify Jewelry Markings?

You will need to arm yourself with a magnifying glass to be able to read gold markings as they tend to be engraved very finely. Also get a portable precision balance, which can measure weights from fractions of a gram to multiples of a gram. Here is how you can check for the purity of the product.

Check the Karat Quality Rating
Most modern gold jewelry products have a ‘Karat’ grading inscribed on them. The printed karat value may be anywhere between 8 Kt to 24 Kt. To know the percentage of pure gold by weight, from karat grading, divide the karat grading by 24 and multiply it by hundred. You might want to check out this article explaining how to calculate the value of scrap gold, from karat grading.

Check For Millesimal Fineness Grading
If it’s a piece of European jewelry, the purity grading will be a three digit number less than 1000, with 999 being the millesimal fineness grading which is equivalent to 24 karat gold. The value may be anywhere between a minimum of 333 and a maximum of 999. Divide the value by 10 to get the percentage fraction by weight that’s pure gold.

Look For Brand Name Stamp or Symbol
Accompanying the karat or millesimal grading, there should be a symbol denoting the manufacturer’s brand. From the symbol, you can decipher the jewelry brand it belongs to. Avoid buying jewelry without brand markings.

By identifying the brand name, karat value and the millesimal fineness grading, one can determine the authenticity of gold jewelry quite easily. While buying scrap gold items, you need to be extreme careful in verifying the gold grading quality as chances are that traders will try to fool you. It is best not to go ahead with the purchase of a gold jewelry item, that has absolutely no markings on it. If it’s an old piece of jewelry from antiquity, get a referral evaluation from a jeweler, who would have the necessary apparatus for testing the quality.