7 precious tips to choose your gold jewellery
All that glitters is not gold! Know how to recognize a gold jewel
How do you know if the superb jewel you have just acquired is really made of gold? Here are a few tips to help you check that the ring your fiancé has just given you or the pendant you have been coveting for months is not fake. Follow these tips to find out how to choose your gold jewellery.
1. Distinguish between the different hallmarks of gold
Who has never had the reflex to look for the hallmark on a so-called gold jewel? The hallmark is this small mark inlaid in the precious metal, a sort of sesame that guarantees the authenticity of the gold. The hallmarks of gold are not always identical, because each type of gold has a specific hallmark, depending on the number of carats for example :
- The seahorse (24 carats)
- The eagle’s head surrounded by a bevelled rectangle (22 carats)
- Eagle head or owl (18 carats)
- The scallop (14 carats)
- Clover (9 carats)
This list is only indicative, as there are other types of hallmarks in the nomenclature of gold authenticity marks.
The location of the hallmark varies according to the piece of jewellery: it can be found on the clasp elements (for bracelets, chains and necklaces) or on the bélière (for medals and pendants). Please note that on a ring, the hallmark must appear on the outside of the ring. Indeed, to be authentic, a hallmark must be stamped. A punch on the inside of the ring means that it has been moulded: it is therefore a fake punch.
2. Put your gold to the test
A real gold jewel has practically no chance of fading. Some jewels never leave us and we wear them without ever taking them off (this is often the case with wedding rings). If it is made of real gold, your jewellery will never lose its lustre even if you wear it every day, including showering and sleeping. Only gold-plated jewellery can discolour in certain areas over time and reveal a different coloured metal underneath.
3. Call a professional to check the content of your gold
Indeed, only a professional with the right tools will be able to tell you if you have gold and what it contains. In general, the expertise is very simple, the professional will use a touchstone and an acid to test your gold. Depending on the reaction, he will be able to tell you if you are in possession of gold or not.
4. Check if your gold has bite
Have you ever noticed that some athletes bite their medals when they win? This gesture, which has become traditional, is intended to verify the authenticity of the precious metal. Indeed, the purer the gold, the softer it is. An absence of a mark following a bite means that your jewellery is probably not made of gold. However, the bite test is not to be recommended, as it damages the gold and leaves a permanent mark on it.
5. Know the difference between solid gold and gold-plated gold.
Gold-plated jewellery is made of a metal that is not gold (usually copper, bronze or tin) and covered with a thin layer of gold at least 3 microns thick. Gold plating is a very old process that traditionally consisted of covering the jewel with gold leaf or by plating gold directly onto it. Hence the term “gold plating”. Today, gold plating is still widely used in jewellery, but also in industry for the manufacture of certain technical components. It is the chemical process of electrolysis that is now used to make gold plating. Good to know: a good quality gold plating has a hallmark: square and hollow, it signs the mark of a manufacturer.
6. Choose the best carat for your gold jewellery.
24 carat gold
24-carat gold is also called pure gold or 99.99% gold. This means that 24 parts out of 24 are pure gold without any trace of other metals. It is also known as “new gold” and is recognisable by its bright yellow tint. There is no gold purity higher than 24 carats. If a dealer assures you that he sells 25- or 26-karat gold, you should know that this is not possible. Since 24-carat is the purest form of gold, it is naturally more expensive than 22- or 18-karat gold.
24-karat gold is softer than lower carat gold. This is logical, because lower carat gold is an alloy, i.e. a mixture of gold with one or more metals that are harder than pure gold. Therefore, 24-carat gold is not suitable for rings or regular shapes of jewellery.
However, to meet a certain demand, 24 carat jewellery can still be found in some Asian countries such as Thailand or Hong Kong.
From 22 carats to 9 carats: the different values of gold
22 carat gold jewellery means that 22 parts of the jewellery are made of gold and the other 2 parts are made of silver, zinc, copper and other metals to make up the alloy. This type of gold is commonly used in the manufacture of jewellery in Turkey, the Middle East, India and the rest of Asia. Please note that 22 carat gold is not suitable for diamond jewellery and jewellery heavily set with precious stones. For the inlaying of gemstones, it is preferable to use 19 carat gold or 18 carat gold.
The number of carats of the gold is normally indicated by means of a hallmark which takes the following form: the number of carats followed by the letter K or the letters KT. Here are some examples of carat hallmarks:
- 18 carat gold: 18 K (or KT) or 750, as the jewellery contains 75% gold.
- 14 carat gold: 14 K (KT) or 585
- 12 carat gold: 12 K (or KT) or 500
- 10-carat gold: 10 k (or KT) or 416 (sometimes 417)
- 9 carat gold: 9 K (or KT) or 375
- 8 carat gold: 8 K (or KT) or 333
- Differentiate between alloys
Alloys, also known as “colours” of gold, are metals that are mixed with molten gold to harden and colour it. The composition of each type of gold depends on the mixture that makes it up:
- Yellow gold: it contains 75% pure gold, 12.5% silver and 12.5% copper.
- Red gold: it consists of 75% pure gold and 25% copper.
- Pink gold: it is composed of 75% pure gold, 9% silver and 16% copper.
- White gold: it contains 75% pure gold, 10% copper, 12.5% nickel and 2.5% zinc.
- White gold: it consists of 75% pure gold and 25% pure silver and palladium (in the past nickel was used, but this is nowadays forbidden) plus a layer of rhodium.
- Green gold: it consists of 75% pure gold and 25% silver.
- Blue gold: it contains 75% pure gold and 25% cobalt or iron.
- Purple gold: it is made up of 75% pure gold and 25% aluminium.
If you wish to know the value of your jewellery, Pierres de Julie appraises your jewellery in Paris free of charge. For a first oral estimate at no charge, please do not hesitate to contact us or to come to our jewellery shop in Paris, in the 15th arrondissement.