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What is Hallmarking? What is a Carat or a Karat? Is 9K or 22K more valuable?
Hallmarking is quality control which dates back to the 14th century when Goldsmiths took their wares to Gold Guilds throughout Europe where metal was tested (or assayed) for purity.
Although a Carat is the unit weight for diamonds and other gemstones, there are many cases where Carat (or ct) will be used for gold classication.
Often Gold is partnered with other metals in the alloy. If Gold is combined with Copper it will present as a dull bronze colour (Rose gold). Silver or Nickel partnered with Gold adds a white tint to the alloy (and will often be referred to as ‘white gold’).
All Gold will be stamped (hallmarked) based on the standard in the country it is produced.
Technically the term for grading Gold is Karat. The lowest Karat grading is 8 (also known as 333, which tells us how much gold is in present, in this case 33.3%). 8K is not recognised in the United States and is easily tarnished.
9K (or 375) is 37.5% Gold and is common in British Commonwealth countries.
10K is the minimum standard for Gold in the United States and is also recognised at 416 (41.6% Gold).
The remainder of classifications are:
– 12K or 500 is 50% gold (uncommon)
– 14K or 585 is 58.5% gold (Asian Gold destined for overseas market. Common in USA. Russian 584)
– 15K, or 625 is 62.5 % gold (British Commonwealth countries. Discontinued over 80 years ago. A good indicator that the piece is old.)
– 18K or 750 is 75% gold. (Most quality pieces are 18ct. Minimum standard in Italy.)
– 22K or 916 is 91.6% gold (mainly Asia, Middle East. Very soft)
– 24K or 1000 is PURE gold (too soft for most jewellery manufacture)
When checking for hallmarks, some classifications mean that the metal is not solid Gold – stamps like EP, CP, HGP are Electroplate, Gold Plate, etc). Often this means that the Gold has been rolled and is not of high quality.