A Guide on Jewelry Hallmarks

A Guide on Jewelry Hallmarks
Before beginning to fabricate pieces myself, I never thought much about those little stamped numbers on my jewelry. Most of us probably don’t give it much thought since we purchase jewelry and assume that it’s what it’s stated to be. However, that’s not exactly the case. Here in the United States there isn’t regulation on hallmarking like in other countries. What does that mean? It means that technically anyone can go around stamping numbers on metals whether it’s true or not. Granted if caught it poses a large problem for them but if you’re purchasing jewelry you probably figure it’s what it’s said to be. Purchasing jewelry from reputable jewelers is important for that reason alone. Jewelers should always be able to answer questions regarding their supply chain; specifically where their raw materials are coming from. That tends to be the advantage of handcrafted jewelry—transparency.

 

So you’ve noticed some numbers or possibly letters stamped on your piece. The numbers refer to the metal while letters are typically the makers hallmark. While some hallmarks like 14k are obvious, others like 1/20 14k may not be. Here's a simplified chart to make it easy to understand exactly what all those numbers and letters mean.

Description Mark Metal
Sterling silver, denoted by 92.5% pure silver while the remaining 7.5% is copper. .925 Silver
Fine silver, 99.9%—less common in jewelry because of how soft silver is. Fine silver doesn’t hold its form as easily and is prone to being marred and scratched.  .999 Silver
41.7% gold while the remaining 58.3% are other metal alloys. 10k Gold
58.5% gold while the remaining 41.5% are other metal alloys. 14k Gold
75% gold while the remaining 25% are other metal alloys. 18k Gold
91.6% gold while the remaining 8.4% are other metal alloys. 22k Gold
100% pure gold--this is rarely seen in jewelry because gold is a soft metal meaning its easily scratched and doesn't hold a shape well. 24k Gold
9k or 37.5% gold while the remaining 62.% are other metal alloys. .375 Gold
14k or 58.5% gold while the remaining 41.5% are other metal alloys. .585 Gold
18k or 75% gold while the remaining 25% are other metal alloys. .750 Gold
90% platinum with the remaining 10% either iridium, cobalt, palladium, ruthenium, or sometimes copper or a mix of these metals. PT900 Platinum
95% platinum with the remaining 5% either iridium, cobalt, palladium, ruthenium, or sometimes copper or a mix of these metals.  PT950 Platinum
Denotes gold filled, or 1/20 (5%) gold often accompanied by whichever karat is being used. Ex: 12k GF or 14k GF GF Gold
Denotes gold plated, or 0.175 micron thickness of pure gold often accompanied by whichever karat is being used. Ex: 14k GP or 18k GP GP Gold

 

Jewelry hallmarks can be a tad confusing especially because they differ in each country. Given each country regulates hallmarking differently, this is really no surprise. If you ever feel questionable about your piece, there are kits you can purchase to test the gold content or you may also take the piece to your local jeweler who likely can perform this test as well.

Jewelers also often have their own trademarked hallmark denoting their company or name that is accompanied by the metal content hallmark. So letters outside of the above listed chart are likely associated with the jeweler. Now you can rest easy knowing you can easily interpret what your ring's stamps are trying to tell you, or maybe not tell you if something's missing.

 

 

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