Gold is a precious metal with a warm, glowing tone. It is a popular component in all types of jewellery. Some jewellery, however, may be gold filled rather than solid gold. Gold-filled jewellery consists of another type of metal coated in a layer of gold. There is a way to tell if your jewellery is gold filled or solid gold--solid gold jewellery is marked with one of several types of tiny hallmarks.
Examine your jewellery for carat quality markings. If it's pure, solid gold, it should be marked with either a “24K” or "999" symbol. Identify 22 carat solid gold by a mark that says “22K,” "916" or "917." This indicates that jewellery is 91.6 per cent pure gold, or 22 parts pure gold out of 24. Look for "18K," "750" or "18KP" for 18 carat gold. For 14 carat jewellery, look for "14K," "585" or "14KP." Ten carat gold should be marked "10K," "417," "16" or "10KP."
Identify gold-filled articles by words or initials following the carat quality mark. A piece may be identified as gold filled, gold overlay, rolled gold or with abbreviations of those terms, such as "GF" for gold filled. Gold-filled jewellery may also be marked with fractional numbers around the carat quality mark. For example, "1/10 14K G.F." means that the piece is gold filled and that 1/10 of its weight is 14 carat gold.
Use common sense when buying gold jewellery. Because the price of gold is well known, any jewellery that does not have a carat quality marking and is for sale at a very low price is unlikely to be solid gold. But depending on the price and the visual appeal, a gold-filled piece may still be worth buying.
“Carat” is not the same as “carat,” which is often indicated by a “K” mark. Carat is a unit of weight for gemstones. Carat refers to the purity of gold. On solid gold jewellery, the “P” mark stands for “plumb.” Plumb is an old-fashioned term that means the purity level of the gold is precisely what is stamped on the label.