Buying Gold Jewellery

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UK Gold Hallmarks
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UK Gold Hallmarks

Buying Gold jewellery online can seem a little bit daunting to start with but with a little bit of knowledge this soon becomes a lot easier. One of the most common questions we receive is "is this real gold?" or something similar and after browsing the fine jewellery section of eBay I can understand why, as there are many listings that say they are Gold but when you look closely they have put GP or GF somewhere. 

Firstly I will explain what GP and GF mean as many sellers do not describe what they are, especially sellers from the far east. 
GP stands for Gold Plated and this is where another metal is covered with a fine layer of Gold so that it looks like Gold. The metals that are plated include Silver and Stainless Steel but cheaper metals are also used. Gold Plated jewellery is cheaper but the plating will soon wear off.
GF stands for Gold Filled, this is a heavier form of plating than GP but the piece of jewellery will still only have a small amount of gold in it. While it will last longer than plated jewellery, it can still wear off. Neither GP or GF jewellery has any real value if you decide to sell due to the minimal gold content.
They will also usually put 18ct, 22ct or 24ct in the title or description and this is just the quality of gold that they used to plate the item.

Before I begin explaining the difference between the different types of Gold available, I will tell you what a carat it, no it is not a vegetable! A carat is the unit by which gold is measured, in the UK we have four main carats 9, 14, 18 and 22, occasionally some jewellery is 24ct but this is very rare as gold is a very soft metal and in its purest form is not ideal for jewellery. In the USA they use 10ct instead of 9ct. Each of these carats are represented as a number (please see the image above), these numbers are the percentage of gold that is contained in that item. The list below shows the gold content for all the common UK carats.

9ct Gold - Stamp 375 = 37.5% gold content
14ct Gold - Stamp 585 = 58.5% gold content
18ct Gold - Stamp 750 = 75% gold content
22ct Gold - Stamp 916 = 91.6% gold content
24ct Gold - Stamp 999 = 99.9% gold content

The most common form of Gold sold in the UK is 9ct Gold and the majority of the jewellery available on eBay is 9ct. If you are buying a piece of 9ct Gold jewellery, check to see if the seller says anything about what is stamped on the item. UK Hallmarking regulations state that only Gold pieces weighing more than 1g need to be hallmarked. Many of the cheaper gold items weigh less than 1g but they should still carry a stamp of 375, if they do not then they may not be 9ct Gold. If it weighs more than 1g then it should carry a set of full UK Hallmarks from one of the four Assay offices.

14ct Gold jewellery is not very common in the UK and many high street and online retailers do not stock any. The main supplier of 14ct Gold jewellery in the UK is QVC. It is more popular in the USA than it is here so check with the seller to see if you can get more information on the item before purchasing.

18ct Gold is the second most popular option in the UK. It is mainly used with higher quality gemstones such as Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires and Tanazanite. Due to the higher gold content, 18ct Gold items will weigh more than the same sized piece of 9ct Gold jewellery, it is also more expensive than 9ct Gold. Many 18ct Gold pieces should carry a full UK Hallmark. 

22ct Gold is very rarely used by mainstream jewellers as it is very expensive. It is most commonly used by Indian Jewellers and the process they use gives it a very distinct bright gold colour. I have come across some 22ct pieces that have not been made using the process that Indian Jewellers use but generally traditional gold jewellery does not go above 18ct.

Gold also comes in 3 colours, yellow, white and rose. The gold content does not vary between the colours, the only difference is what other metals they are mixed with. Yellow gold is mixed with a combination of copper, silver and small amounts of other metals, each manufacturer uses different mixtures which is why two pieces of yellow gold can be slightly different shades. White Gold is gold mixed with silver and Rose Gold is gold mixed with copper.

Check our eBay Store from some beautiful Gold jewellery.

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