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Evaluating Precious Metal Jewelry


Jewelry is made to be beautiful, but it also must be durable enough to withstand periodic or even everyday use. Therefore, jewelry is rarely made from pure precious metals, which can be very soft and easily bent, stretched and scratched. Instead, most precious-metal jewelry is made from alloys, which contain other metals to make them harder and more durable. These other metals can also add different colors to the precious metals, as in white, yellow and rose gold. When we buy jewelry, its value is based on how much pure precious metal it contains.

Karat Gold vs Plated

Most reputable jewelry is made with “solid” precious metals and is almost always stamped with a mark, such as “14k.” The “k” stands for “karat.”

In jewelry, karat is a measure of the percentage of pure precious metal a particular item contains. The karat mark is very important to understanding the value of a jewelry item.

Jewelry that is “plated” with a thin precious metal coating electroplated on base metal, should not have a karat mark (although sometimes plated rings will be stamped HGE, for heavy Gold electroplate) . The amount of pure precious metal used to plate an item is so small that it has no measurable value. As a result, most experienced jewelry buyers do not buy plated jewelry. Rancho Gold & Jewelry expert buyer can visually spot plated items, but when in doubt we can employ our X-Ray Spectrometer.

Gold Karat Marks

Jewelry items made of solid Gold are stamped with karat marks.



   9k (9 karat) contains 37.5% pure Gold


 10k (10 karat) contains 41.6% pure Gold


 12k (12 karat) contains 50% pure Gold


 14k (14 karat) contains 58.3% pure Gold


 18k (18 karat) contains 75% pure Gold


 22k (22 karat) contains 91.6% pure Gold


 24k (24 karat) contains 100% pure Gold

Gold ring with 14K stamped on the inside
Silver ring with 925 stamped on the inside

Sterling Silver Marks

Rancho Gold & Jewelry buys Sterling Silver jewelry items, which contain 92.5% Silver and are marked “Sterling” or “.925”. We also buy any Silver jewelry with a variety of stampings and hallmarks. Items such as flatware, serving pieces, bowls, tea service and trays can be made of Sterling Silver. Items made in the United States will be marked “Sterling”. Some items from Europe and other parts of the world can be stamped with other hallmarks that indicate their Silver purity