Jewelry is often stamped with a maker’s mark so you can easily identify your jewelry. There are numerous stamps, and some are harder to make out than others, but maker’s marks help identify the maker. If you want to know “What is my jewelry made of?” then you need to locate a hallmark.
Look inside the band of a ring, on the back of a brooch, or a pendant, and on the inside of a bracelet. Sometimes jewelers’ affix hallmarks to tags and solder them into place, or attach them with a ring.
The hallmark is typically a three-digit number, but sometimes hallmarks are a combination of numbers and letters, or perhaps a two-digit number. Once you locate the hallmark, examine this list to see if you can find it.
700, 70% silver, commonly called coin silver, although some coins have more silver and other coins have less silver.
800, 80% silver, commonly called jewelry silver, although some silver jewelry has a higher silver content and some has a lower silver content.
925, 92.5% silver, commonly called Sterling Silver. All .925 silver is Sterling Silver, an industry standard of jewelry quality.
958, 95.8% silver, commonly called Britannia Silver, although some jewelers consider anything greater than .925 silver content to be Fine Silver.
999, 99.9% silver, commonly called Fine, or Pure Silver. This is the purest of Silver jewelry. It is not at 100% because silver is too soft to stand alone. Silver has to be alloyed for strength and durability, especially in fine jewelry work, like small link chains and ring settings.
Gold is even softer than silver and is typically alloyed for strength.
333, 8k gold, this is 8 parts gold and 16 parts stabilizing metal. 8k gold is about 33% gold.
375, 9k gold, this is 9 parts gold and 15 parts stabilizing metal, about 37.5% gold.
416 or 417, 10k gold, this is 10 parts gold and 14 parts stabilizing metal, about 41.7% gold.
500, 12k gold, this is 12 parts gold and 12 parts stabilizing metal, about 50% gold.
583 or 585, 14k gold, this is 14 parts gold and 10 parts stabilizing metal, about 58.3% gold.
75, 18k gold, this is 18 parts gold and 6 parts stabilizing metal, about 75% gold.
916 or 917, 22k gold, this is 22 parts gold and 2 parts stabilizing metal, about 91.7% gold.
999, 24k gold, this is pure gold.
It is important to know that metal mixing sometimes results in an uneven mix, where more gold, or more stabilizing metal is in a single spot. If the bubble of gold, or bubble of stabilizing metal is not visible there is no way for your jeweler to know about it. That is why each of these measurements are “about” a percentage of real gold, rather than and “absolute” percentage of real gold.
850, 85% fine platinum
900, 90% fine platinum
950, 95% fine platinum
999, 99.9% fine platinum
Why isn’t platinum measured in karats? Karats are a standard of gold measurement in the US, and as such karats only apply to gold. Carats, on the other hand are a standard of weight in the metric system. You can weigh anything in carats. One kilogram of carrots is the same as 5,000 carats of carrots, and 1 pound of carrots is about the same as 2,268 carats of carrots.
If you have a hallmark that is hard to read, send us a picture and we will see what we can see.
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