A Beginner's Guide to Purity Marks

I was recently at my *real* job when one of my co-workers and I began discussing jewelry (of course).  She was surfing through one of my favorite online sites, Ruby Lane, looking at some amazing vintage pieces.  As she was looking at one piece, when she asked me what "585" meant.  

"585" is the European hallmark for gold that is 14 karat, or 58% gold & 42% other metals.

So I thought that maybe it was time that put together a simple, easy to read cheat sheet about purity hallmarks.  Of course, this is a beginner's guide and is obviously not all-inclusive.  I've not included maker's marks but I tried to just hit the main examples. I hope that this quick chart, and the following photo examples, provides a simple reference resource for you!

Still can't visualize what each mark looks like?  Here are a few photo examples to get you started!

This modern, vintage-inspired example bears the marks for platinum & 18k gold - "PLAT" & "18K."  This example is
from the U.S. & also bears a maker's mark, "BEL," which is the 
Bijoux Extraordinaire registered hallmark.

A modern example, made to be sold in both European & U.S. markets, this ring bears the
American "18K" purity mark & the traditional European purity mark, "750."

This cute little vintage cameo ring, bears the "10K" purity mark & is available on eBay, $150.76.

Curious about the percentage of purity of the gold as represented by the karat weight?  Here's a quick reference chart:

Hopefully, you've found these little cheat sheets helpful!  I know it can be overwhelming trying to remember what all the marks mean, especially when collecting European jewelry.  

If you are still interested, and feeling undaunted, there are also a lot of great resources out there about the British Hallmarking System!  Check out the Birmingham Assay Office for more information and examples.

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  1. It's a very helpful blog for jewelry lovers, and every jewelry buyer must have these information about jewel purity and its units....
    thank a lot for this helpful information.


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