With gold prices being as high as they are, now is a good time to for a quick refresher on precious metals marks. Even small amounts of scrap gold can quickly add up, so you may have some ready cash lying around and not even realize it.
Pure gold is 24K but typically isn't used for jewelry due to its softness. Instead, gold is mixed with base metals such as copper for, which adds hardness but also lowers the purity. Most gold is done in levels, these being 22K, 18K, 14K, and 10K. Typically, gold will either be marked in this way or with a number that represents a percentage of 24K. 18K gold may be marked, for example .750, with is 75% of 24. Often times gold marks are tiny and hard to find, as shown in the above photo. Also remember that gold can be white, so don't assume your ring, etc, is sterling silver. Marks that indicate a piece is not gold include "rolled gold", GF (gold filled), and "gold plated".
Speaking of silver, it remains gold's poor cousin and won't have much value unless you have a lot of it. So, think sets of sterling flatware, hollowware pieces such as vases, etc. Silver will typically be marked "Sterling", .925, .800, or "coin". If you see "EPNS" or "EP", that means silver plate and thus little to no value. One note: British silver is often marked only with hallmarks. The key mark will be a striding lion with one paw in the air, which is the hallmark for sterling silver.
Your best friend in all this will be a good magnifying glass, especially a loupe. Again, the marks can be very hard to find but the payoff can be considerable. So, with gold quite high, now is a good time to take a peek in the jewelry box to see if there is anything you might want to bring to market.
Bryan H. Roberts is a professional appraiser in Sarasota, FL. He is a member of the Florida State Guardianship Association and currently serves on the board of the local FSGA chapter. He is a past president of the Sarasota County Aging Network, a non-profit that provides grants to other non-profits benefiting seniors in need and is also a board member of PEL, an area non-profit whose resale store profits support programs and scholarships for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. He is certified in the latest Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Equivalent