Karats and carats: they sound the same but are entirely unique. The karat (K) is the universal symbol used to signify the percentage of gold in jewelry. Carat (C), on the other hand, is used to indicate the weight of a diamond.
Trying to identify what your jewelry is made of seems easy; all you have to do is flip it over and look for a maker’s mark and a karat marking, right? The process may appear straightforward, but you have to know what to look for to even guesstimate how much gold your jewelry contains.
Karat Quality Ratings: What Are They?
Authentic gold jewelry must have a karat rating to be legally advertised and sold.
- 24k, 24K, 24 karat (pure gold): at least 99.95% gold by weight; 24 parts gold
- 18k, 18K, 18 karat: at least 75.00% gold by weight; 18 parts gold to 6 parts other metal
- 14k, 14K, 14 karat: at least 58.33% gold by weight; 14 parts gold to 10 parts other metal
- 10k, 10K, 10 karat: at least 41.67% gold by weight; 10 parts gold to 14 parts other metal
You should be mindful of any marks that are not listed above. The minimum quality rating allowed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to claim a piece of jewelry as “gold” in the United States is 10K.
Tolerances in Gold Karat Quality Ratings
When it comes to how much gold is in your jewelry, no two pieces are identical. The FTC monitors these minor variations in gold content to ensure products are labeled within a certain scale of purity.
This could mean that the exact percentage of gold reflected in your payment may differ slightly from the upper end of a karat rating’s threshold. Visit MJSA for more information on tolerances in gold jewelry.
What If a Three-Digit Number or a “C” is Stamped Underneath?
Karat ratings differ between what country an item was manufactured in. Most European jewelers use three-digit numbers to specify the percentage of gold in their jewelry. You may also come across a “C”, which means “carat”, and is similarly used as the karat rating (K) in the U.S.
This “C” on the underside of your gold jewelry shouldn’t be confused with the carat designation that the FTC requires for diamond sales in the U.S.
How Our Experts Can Help
Checking your jewelry for karat markings and production hallmarks is a good starting point to find out how much gold content it has, or if it contains any at all. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that will intentionally sell you fake gold. To truly know the value of your gold jewelry, you can sell your jewelry to Garfield Refining.
If you’re ready to sell your precious-metal jewelry, click here to get started with Garfield today!
Garfield Refining buys all used gold, gold-filled, platinum, and silver jewelry for the fair market value of precious metal content only. We don’t appraise jewelry on its artistry, brand, or vintage.