How to Read Common Gold Markings

By Mrgould (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

We often see jewellery in every shape and size come through our doors. On the bright side, this lets us see and handle some really amazing pieces but it can also bring with it some of the more frustrating moments of this job, when I have to tell someone that their treasured family heirloom in isn’t real gold or that this person was taken in by a scammer and bought something that wasn’t authentic.

Don’t be Scammed by Fake Gold

Luckily, there are gold markings on most legitimate pieces that should help tip you off on whether or not the piece you are looking at is real. Warning: jewellery counterfeiters will sometimes place these markings as well so it’s important that you only use this knowledge as a first step test in making a decision.

Checking Markings and Stamps

Markings and stamps are generally an indicator of the purity of the gold. For example you may see a 14 stamp for 14 karat or 18 stamp for 18 karat and so on. The stamps or markings can be placed in different locations on varying pieces, but here are some of the usual suspects:

  • Rings – Usually found on the inside of the band
  • Lockets – Normally inside the front panel but can sometimes be found on the back if the locket is not “styled” on the back
  • Bracelets – On the underside
  • Others – The general rule for most pieces is when in doubt, check the bottom of the piece


Just because you see a karat stamp doesn’t mean the item is definitively gold. We’ve seen a number of items with just the karat stamps that are most definitely not real gold. In addition to the karat stamp itself, also look for a fraction before or after the stamp. For example, 1/10 14k would indicate the item is one-tenth of 14k gold. You will also find at times letters along with the karat markings, either before or after the karat stamp. These letters often mean the following:

  • GF – Gold filled
  • GP – gold plated
  • GE or GEP – Gold electro plated

Many lovely pieces of jewellery are made with silver and gold. If this is the case, you will usually see a 925 stamp, SS, or STER stamp along with the gold stamp.

Note About Rings

If you have an item like a ring for example, and you do not see a stamp don’t rule it out right off the bat. It may be that over time the stamp has worn off or possibly been resized where the stamp was. The stamps are also sometimes difficult to see depending on where they are placed inside the ring or on a pendant, etc.

So that’s the basics of gold markings. If you have any questions or concerns about the markings on your jewellery drop us a line either here or on facebook and we’d be happy to lend a helping hand in authenticating your item.