You walk into a jewelry store thinking you will buy a nice gold chain for yourself. All kinds of attractive pieces meet your eye. You are looking at 18K, 14K, 10K. You are looking at price tags of many numbers. How should you decide what to buy?
The stamp on a piece of gold jewelry is meant to guarantee its authenticity as to the amount of the actual gold metal in it. Since you will most likely never see a gold item that is composed of 100% gold, the stamp will give you an idea of the relative quality of the jewelry you are examining. And what if there is no stamp? How can you judge? We will take a look here at the facts.
In the U.S., Gold Jewelry Must Be Stamped
If you see a karat stamp such as 14K or 10K on a gold article and it is being sold through a vendor, you can generally rely on its authenticity. In the United States, by law it must be marked. In most other countries as well, the jewelry must be stamped indicating its degree of purity.
Typically, there is a hallmark indicating the manufacturer as well as the karat stamp. Sometimes you will see a number such as 750, indicating that 75% of the piece is pure gold, or 18-karat. The purity can vary somewhat, up to one-half of a karat.
Other stamps you may see indicate gold plating (GP) and gold filled (GF). This may be an indication that the karat rating refers to the plating and not the underlying metal.
What If There Is No Stamp?
If you see no stamp on the piece, it’s possible that it is a very old piece, or it could be just a fraud. You can test it yourself or have it tested by a jeweler. The test is fairly simple and easy to do. Jewelers generally use nitric acid (that’s where we get the term “acid test”). You can also buy a testing kit and do it yourself.
To be on the safe side, if the article is not stamped, the best practice is not to buy it.
So, Can You Rely on a Stamp When Buying Gold?
Sadly, there are few guarantees left in the world – only death and taxes, as the saying goes. The best way to be sure you are buying a real solid gold piece is to buy it from a reputable jeweler whom you trust. If you do buy from another source, such as a private seller, ask for permission to take the piece to a jeweler for authentication, or ask to see proof that the article has been tested.
Now, when you go shopping for that new solid gold chain, you will be better able to distinguish the characteristics of the precious jewelry piece your buying.