Hallmarks and karats in gold jewellery

Hallmarks are used to determine the karat, ie the gold content of a jewel. This article presents the main titrations and karat in jewellery.

 

What is a karat ?


There are two definitions for the term carat:

  • Gemological, therefore for a diamond or other gemstone, it is an unit of weight equivalent to 0.2g. Thus, the more carats a gemstone has, the higher its size is and thus its value increases.
  • In jewelry, it is used to measure the metal purity in the jewellery. Thus, 99.99% pure gold is 24 karats of gold. The consequence is that the karat is 1 / 24th of the total mass of an alloy. Thus 18k gold means that there is 75 % gold (18/24 * 100 = 75%). A 14 karat gold jewellery contains 58.5% gold.

 

What is a hallmark ?


Among the hallmarks, we distinguish two types :

  • Hallmarks status or legal title, denoting the purity of a jewel. Some examples below :

  • French hallmarks enable also to define the titration of a jewel. Below the mains french hallmarks :

Seahorse

Pure gold 99,99%

Eagle 1

Gold 22 karats 91,6 %

Eagle

Gold 18 karats 75 %

Shell

Gold 14 karats 58,5 %

Clover

Gold 9 karats 37,5 %

Minerve

Silver 92,5 %

Minerve 2

Silver 80 %

Dog

Platinum 85 %

Dog 1

Platinum 95 %

Dog 2

Platinum 90 %

Dog 3

Platinum 85 %
  • Master Hallmarks, designating the manufacturer’s brand of jewelery, goldsmith or Master. It is often hit in a diamond.
    The square punches generally means that the jewelry is gold plated or silver.

    One can find the marks « G », « GALV », « Murat », « GOLD-PLATED » which are often signs plated jewelery brand, or plating by electroplating. This is called galvanic gilding.


 

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