When you are looking at a piece of gold or silver jewelry, the first questions you ask yourself are usually, “Is this good quality?”, “Is it a good price?” or “Is it real?”. So, how do you know? Here are a few quick tricks you can do and signs to look for to assess the quality of gold and silver jewelry:
- The Appraisal. A quick way to know is to ask if they have a third-party appraisal. That will be helpful when you are shopping at an established, reputable retailer. Just remember even appraisals can be fudged.
- The Magnet! Gold and silver are not magnetic. So, if it is attracted to a magnet it won’t be gold or silver. Simple enough. Just remember that the clasp on a chain, bracelet or earring will probably not be gold or silver and WILL be attracted to the magnet. Gold or silver-plated jewelry may have some magnetism.
- The Rub. For silver, use a soft white cloth and rub a small part of the jewelry. If black marks appear on the cloth, then the jewelry piece is true silver. This is because 925 silver oxidizes when it is exposed to air and tarnishes over time.
- The Stamp. Unless it is handmade by a small artist, gold jewelry will usually be stamped with its karat purity (24K is pure gold) – 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or 24K. Gold stamps could also be three numbers representing the percent of 24K gold. The number 999 equals 24K gold, 585 equals 14K and 417 equals 10K. GF means gold filled and GP means gold plated. PT means platinum! Silver marks include “925”, “.925”, “S925” or “sterling”, to represent the 92.5 percent pure silver that exists. If there is an official stamp of some sort on the jewelry, then it’s highly likely that it is real sterling silver or gold. Note that SS means Stainless Steel!
- The Look. Gold just looks like gold. Fake just looks fake. Gold looks and feels well made, crafted, heavy, deeper and richer gold color, has the squished stamp, the soft metal scratches easier, has a luster or sheen, has a strong clasp and the clasp link is usually welded closed so the piece cannot be lost. Fake gold is too shiny, looks light weight, pressed or manufactured, the color is lighter, and the clasp is cheap. Same goes for silver.
- The Price. Gold and silver markets price the metals daily by gram or Troy ounce weight. The market prices are reflected in the prices of jewelry. So be aware of recent market trends. If gold and silver prices are on the rise, you might have to pay a little extra. If gold and silver prices are going down, you might be able to talk down the price a little. Now sorry, a little technical jargon going forward here. Pure gold is too soft for daily wear jewelry. Pure silver is too soft for any jewelry. That is, unless you are a Pharaoh or an Inca Priestess! Pure 99.9% (24K – karat) gold is frequently combined with other alloys to make it stronger, more affordable or different colors like white, rose, green and brown. Karat with a “K” represents gold purity. Not to be confused with Carat with a “C” which represents the weight of diamonds and gemstones. The more gold the jewelry contains the higher the price (see #4 above). Most gold jewelry is made in the 10K to 18K range. The most common is 14K followed by 10K. Less than 10K the gold has a noticeable color and luster loss. More that 18K the gold is softer, more pliable and usually not used for daily wear jewelry. For silver, pure silver is too soft for jewelry and is also mixed with alloys (usually copper) for strengthening. Jewelry grade silver, also called Sterling silver, is 92.5% silver.
So now you can talk a little more intelligently when buying your next jewelry piece at one of the big retailers or not get taken at the local garage sale or flea market. At Bling Dog USA we make a concerted effort to affiliate with only reputable retailers that offer quality merchandise. Thank you for shopping with us!