Miners have pan handled for gold for centuries from the icy slopes of Alaska, to the Klondike in Canada and the infamous California Gold Rush. Gold is a chemical element found in the earth’s bedrock and gravels. The rarity of this precious metal has propelled it to prosperous heights. As a result gold has long been, and still is, in popular demand in the jewelry market. That said, there are different types of gold and gold stamps you may encounter and want to be familiar with.
Specifically, you’ve likely come across gold pieces that have a 925 stamp. This is actually a fairly common stamp you’ll encounter in the jewelry marketplace, which is why it’s important to understand what 925 on gold jewelry means.
You may already be familiar with the 925 stamp from buying sterling silver. Regarding sterling silver, a 925 stamp refers to the standard quality grade: 92.5 percent silver to 7.5 percent alloy. With that in mind, does that equation directly apply to a 925 gold stamp as well? In short, no.
If you see 925 jewelry, it’s highly likely that the stamp does not apply to the gold. Wait, what? If not to indicate the purity of the gold, what does 925 on gold jewelry mean then?
Great question! Let’s explore what 925 gold jewelry is, and the difference between solid gold and gold plated silver.
First of all, a 925 stamp is called a “hallmark” that tells the buyer about the quality and authenticity of the metal. It’s always important when jewelry shopping to understand what the various stamps mean. We’ve discussed what 925 sterling silver is, but sometimes you may come across that same stamp on gold jewelry.
Many people tend to think that the 925 gold stamp means it has 92.5% gold, however that is not the case. This is something you want to be mindful of while shopping to avoid getting taken for granted.
925 is a hallmark for sterling silver. So, why does that stamp sometimes appear on gold jewelry? Well, if gold jewelry has a 925 stamp it means that the actual metal of the jewelry is sterling silver that’s plated in gold.
To summarize: 925 gold is not solid gold, but is actually sterling silver with gold plating. If you’re specifically shopping for solid gold jewelry, a 925 stamp is an indication that you should not buy the piece. When silver is plated with gold it is called gold vermeil. The likelihood is high that you’ll recognize gold vermeil at first glance and call it another, more familiar name: costume jewelry.
In the U.S., for jewelry to qualify as gold vermeil it must have a gold plating of at least 10 karats. This means it contains roughly 42% gold. Furthermore, the plating must retain a minimal thickness of 2.5 microns.
You can see the opportunity for confusion to arise within the vast difference between solid gold and gold vermeil. Bottom line: 925 is not a legitimate grading for gold purity. Silver is rated by a grading system, whereas gold is rated by purity of the gold, known as karatage.
If you’re shopping for solid gold pieces, you’ll want to avoid pieces with a 925 stamp. Gold karats are illustrated in three-digit numbers containing parts per thousand. As a guide, use these popular karat markings and their values in parts per thousand.
Gold karat markings and purity:
24K = 999 / 99.9%
22K = 917 / 91.7%
20K = 833 / 83.3%
18K = 750 / 75%
14K = 583 / 58.3%
10K = 417 / 41.7%
Common stamps on gold-plated jewelry are GEP, RGP, GP, HGE, and HGP. However, you may come across a piece of gold jewelry that doesn’t have a stamp. In this event, you’ll want to have the piece tested by a jeweler. The test involves applying acid to a little piece of the jewelry’s material. With an acid test, the jeweler can establish the karatage of the gold or decipher if the piece is gold plated.
Why would you want this test done? Well, some retailers might attempt to dupe you into paying a gold price tag for a sterling silver gold plated piece. Always look for the hallmark, and when in doubt have the piece acid tested. Conversely, you may own gold-plated jewelry without knowing it and acid testing is a great way to solve the riddle.
925 Italy is another hallmark you may encounter while shopping for gold jewelry. When you see a piece of jewelry stamped with 925 Italy, it simply means that the jewelry piece is actually gold plated silver that was made in Italy. That said, even if it’s not solid gold the piece could still be a treasured addition to your collection. With that in mind, should you buy 925 gold jewelry pieces?
There are gorgeous 925 jewelry pieces out there. In fact, some people prefer it as gold vermeil jewelry is quite popular. 925 gold might not be solid gold, but it still holds value and is often made of high-quality sterling silver and gold plating.
The important thing while jewelry shopping is to know exactly what you’re buying.
If you want to buy solid gold, avoid 925 gold, if you want gold-plated silver, buy 925 jewelry. Each type of gold piece has its unique merit, it just comes down to what you prefer.
There are upsides to buying 925 gold jewelry. For instance, 925 gold will be less expensive than solid gold and still have a lovely luster with gold-plating. The plating is in fact made of gold, so you still get the classic aesthetic only a gold jewelry piece can provide. At the end of the day, your preference is what matters. Gold vermeil makes great costume jewelry while adding a golden, regal flare to your style.
The great thing about gold vermeil jewelry is that it gives you another option when buying gold pieces. What’s at the top of your gold jewelry list? Browse our selection of beautiful gold jewelry to find the piece that’s right for you!
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