Have you ever wondered what those tiny stamps or symbols on your jewellery mean? These markings are crucial pieces of information that can tell you a lot about the composition and quality of your precious metals and gemstones. The symbols, often located on the interior surface of a piece, indicate the metal or gemstone type, purity, and origin, which can affect the value, authenticity, and quality of the jewellery.
This guide will explore the meanings behind each symbol stamped on your jewellery, including those for gold, silver, diamonds, and other precious gemstones and metals.
Identification Symbols Stamped on Jewellery
Depending on the country of origin, there are several identification marks stamped on real gold jewellery that can help you determine its quality and value. It is important to note that not all marks are typically present.
Karat mark: This indicates the purity of the gold and is displayed as a number followed by the letter "k." For example: 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k. The number of karats tells us how much gold is in the metal. 10k means that 10 out of 24 parts are real gold. The other 14 parts are other metals such as copper, silver or nickel. 14k means that 14 out of 24 parts are real gold, and so on.
Makers mark: This mark can be the initials, name, or emblem that identifies the manufacturer or company that made the piece of jewellery.
Millesimal Fineness mark: This mark shows the fineness of the gold in parts per thousand, and is typically used in European countries instead of the Karat marks commonly used in the United States. For example, jewellery containing 99% gold has 999 stamped on it.
Gold Filled, Gold Plated, and Gold Electroplated may be stamped with the letters G.F., G.P., or G.E. respectively.
Similar to gold, silver jewellery also has identification marks.
Purity mark: This indicates the purity of the silver. If the piece is 92.5% sterling silver or higher it is usually stamped with a .925 or 925.
Maker's mark: Similar to the maker’s mark on gold, this mark identifies the manufacturer or company that made the piece of jewellery.
Other common metal identification stamps include:
Plat: This mark on a piece of jewellery means that it contains at least 90% platinum. It often also has the number 900 written before it to signify the 90%.
Titanium: This stamp means that the piece is titanium or has titanium content.
S.S. or St. Steel: These stamps denote the metal as stainless steel.
Diamonds + Other Precious Gemstones
Diamonds or other precious gemstones sometimes have laser inscriptions consisting of a unique series of letters and numbers that indicate when and where the diamond was mined. These inscriptions are engraved on the stone’s girdle by the grading lab in which they are certified.
However, not all gemstones have laser inscriptions. Sometimes diamond jewellery will have the diamond identification stamped onto the metal holding the gemstone. Some of the common markings on the metal that indicates real gemstones are:
SOL: SOL accompanied by a number can be stamped on the metal to indicate a solitaire diamond and the gem’s carat weight.
Cw: This means carat weight. Carat weight measures a gemstone's total weight. Carat weight is generally noted by a period (.) with the weight of the precious gemstone after it.