One of the most common questions that’s asked is to explain gold karats or fineness. I wish I had a dime for every time it was explained. You would be amazed at how wealthy my bank account would be. It’s really simple and it’s not rocket science either. Let me share with you.

Firstly, just because it’s stamped a particular karat doesn’t mean it’s really that karat. Quite often, jewelry from overseas is NOT the karat stamped. There have been many pieces of jewelry handed to me that are stamped 22kt. or .916 and once tested, it’s 14kt. How does that happen you ask? Easy. It’s SOOOO simple once you have a tiny little stamp to stamp anything you want or any karat that you want. Not all jewelers are scrupulous. The item in question is made out of 14kt. and then flashed or plated with 22kt. If the vendor or jeweler does that on a large amount of unsuspecting buyers, well, it’s all in the profits gained.

When going to purchase your jewelry or gold from overseas, purchase from a LONG time jeweler or dealer with good standing with the cruise line, local area, or travel agent. This’s where you’re safe. These vendors have their reputations to lose and your trust is very, very valuable to them. Especially, in this economic market. Once a reputation is damaged, as in anything, it’s extremely difficult to recover.

When you buy your gold item, you’ll see the hallmark or stamp on it. It will not be exactly that karat. There is a legal tolerance that the original vendor or manufacturer has to stay within. It differs all over the world. But it has to be CLOSE to the karat stamped. Often items brought to me won’t feel right. The heft in the hand is off. The feel is something one gains over having had a lot of gold run through their hands. Different karats have different densities therefore “feeling”  or hefting differently. If there’s a question about the karat, acid is used to determine the exact karat. Acids never lie and they are fool proof.

The fineness of gold is as follows:

24kt.=pure gold
23kt.=.9583 fine
22kt.=.9166 fine
21.6kt.=.900 fine
21kt.=.875 fine
20kt.=.8333 fine
18kt.=.750 fine
14kt.=.5833 fine
10kt.=.417 fine
9kt.= .333 fine

These are the percentages of gold in the individual pieces. The remainder of the metal in your item will be alloys. As an example, an 18kt. ring has 75% gold and the remaining 25% is alloy. It follows through for the rest of the karats too.

If you have an item that has a “P” after the stamp (i.e. 14KTP), that means “Plumb”. Plumb gold means that it’s exactly the karat it’s marked.  It doesn’t differ one iota. It is a little more expensive but worth the search when looking. When purchasing, I look for that stamp. If it feels right then it’s just added to the karat pile to be purchased.

There are a couple of other hallmarks or stamps that you should be made aware of. When you see a GE or a HGE after the karat mark (i.e. 18kt HGE), that’s NOT gold. Those hallmarks stand for “gold electro plate” or “heavy gold electro plate” respectively. It’s not uncommon for people to bring items in with the karat and GE or HGE in the hallmark and thinking it’s gold. Bad news isn’t always easy or pleasant to tell someone.

Gold karat or fineness is easy to understand and as promised, it’s not rocket science. No genius involved here. So purchase from your trusted jewelers, vendors, or dealers with knowledge that they have your best interests first and foremost.