Jewelry stamps & marks, what they mean on gold, silver, & rings

One day as you were fiddling with your ring, you noticed several inscribed letters and numbers on its inner side. However, you had no clue what these mysterious words etched into the metal meant. Perhaps you even panicked a little – did someone damage your precious accessory with these unsightly marks? Well, fear not. You’ll never come across a ring that isn’t stamped in some way. These jewelry stamps & marks can tell you a lot about the origins of your jewelry, gold, silver, & rings. In this article, we’ll tell you what all these hallmarks on your gold mean.

Maker’s mark identification symbols stamped on jewelry

Maker’s marks, or M marks, are popular mostly among US manufacturers. Or rather, it’s mandatory here since 1961. However, many foreign jewelry makers mark their pieces as well. It is one of the surest methods you can tell whether your ring is real or not. The M marks usually take the form of initials. Sometimes, they can appear as more elaborate inscriptions.

But keep in mind that the initials may overlap. For instance, a DG stamp will most likely mean Dolce&Gabbana. However, it doesn’t have to point to this famous Italian brand. It could also be David Garner’s Jewelers or Donald S. Gilmore. Since the initials can be confusing, you should be cautious when shopping – you never know what someone might try to sell you!

Hallmarks can sometimes be quite obscure. If you own an SK9 diamond ring, it was made by Allure Gems. It’s even if there’s no connection between the stamp and the brand name.

Antique symbols stamped on gold jewelry

Almost everyone owns some kind of jewelry. From wedding bands to vintage family heirlooms, they can symbolize many different things. But very few people notice what’s written on the inside. And when they do, they have no idea what the inscriptions mean. Fortunately, we’ve prepared a list of the most common hallmarks you can find on both new and vintage accessories.

Kt, K

K or Kt stands for karats. These metrics define how pure the gold in your jewelry is. The more karats your golden piece has, the purer it is. However, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better. Gold is a soft and malleable metal. Without other alloys, it will bend easily.

999 gold stamp

999 gold stamp

Three-digit numbers denote the gold’s purity. The number 999 indicates that 99.9 % of your jewelry piece is made of real gold. It is the highest purity a manufacturer can achieve. In terms of karats, it would be 24. But this high purity can be a double-edged sword. The more of this precious metal your accessory has, the more prone it is to dents.

999 ring

750 stamp

The number 750 means your ring contains 75 % pure gold. The rest are other metals and allows. The 750 purity equals 18k.

750 gold

417 gold stamp

Jewelry pieces branded this way comprise 41.7 % gold content. That equals about 10 karats. Because they contain such a low amount of gold, these accessories are one of the cheapest on the market. And here in the US, they are truly the cheapest – most US brands don’t go below 10 karats.

333 stamp

This hallmark means your ring is made of 33.3 % gold, roughly 8 karats. However, you probably won’t find an 8-karat ring here in the US. European brands mostly manufacture such accessories.

585, 583, 575 ring stamps

The numbers refer to the amount of gold in your ring: 58.5, 58.3, and 57.5 %, respectively. All three hallmarks equal 14 k. This percentage varies from country to country.

585 stamp

625 ring stamps

Nowadays, you will seldom come across 625 ring stamps. Although the 62. 5% gold content used to be popular, but it was discontinued. However, rings are popular family heirlooms. If you inherited one, then odds are it will be stamped with this number.

900 or 950 stamped earrings

These numbers are not very common for gold. If you own a pair of 950-stamped earrings, they are most likely made of platinum. By now, you should know that they contain either 90 or 95 % of this metal.

GF

This symbol stands for gold-filled. Gold-filled jewelry pieces feature a base metal covered in a gold layer. Since it isn’t as pure, these types of accessories are generally cheap.

GP

A GP stamp means your item is gold-plated. Thus, it’s usually made from steel covered with 0.5 microns of gold. Generally, the purity must be at least 10 karats. Keep in mind that impure jewelry will tarnish much more easily. Always know what you’re buying when hunting for golden accessories.

HGE

This hallmark stands for High-Grade Electroplate. Electroplating is a method used to deposit gold onto the surface of another metal. As its name suggests, it utilizes an electric field. The exact mechanism isn’t important. What you should know is that HE pieces are essentially gold-plated.

Crown Stamp

Also known as the Crown Standard, a crown stamp was used to mark jewelry made of gold. Although once popular in Britain, you can only find it on antique pieces nowadays.

White gold symbols stamped on jewelry

Platinum and white gold can look similar to one another. Fortunately, there’s a way you can tell them apart. If you see Pt or Plat on your ring, then it’s made mostly of platinum. On the other hand, karats are used solely for gold. If you see a K or ct symbol, your accessory is made of this metal.

Identification of diamond symbols stamped on jewelry.

Most manufacturers use either D or SOL (for solitaire diamonds) to brand diamond jewelry. 

D simply means that the piece has diamond pieces embedded into it. On the other hand, SOL refers to the presence of a single gemstone. Thus, you can find it on engagement rings.

You might also come across the CZ hallmark. It stands for cubic zirconia. Although similar in appearance, this isn’t a real diamond.

What does the stamp on my ring mean?

If you’ve just discovered a stamp on your ring, don’t worry – it isn’t an act of vandalism! Rather, these hallmarks provide you with invaluable information about your accessory.

The most common information you might find etched inside your ring is its composition. Every manufacturer must display the purity of the gold they use. The most common way to express this here in America is via karats. These units describe how much of this precious metal the piece contains. The maximum value is 24 karats. It means 99% of your jewelry piece is made of this precious metal. 

On the other hand, European manufacturers lean more towards the three-digit marking system. Although seemingly different, it’s essentially the same thing. For instance, the number 750 means that 75 % of your ring is made of pure gold. To convert this to karats, multiply these three-digit numbers by 0.024. In this case, we’re looking at 18k.

Other common symbols are GP (gold-plated) and GF (gold-filled). Though they are slightly different in terms of how the ring was made, they pose the same problem – they lower its value. Even though there might be 18k written before the GF, it doesn’t refer to the ring as a whole. Instead, it refers to just the coating itself. Because of this low content, most buyers shy away from such cheap rings. Make sure you know what you’re buying to avoid getting scammed – GP or GF jewelry is considerably cheaper than the real deal!

Expect your ring also to bear some brand hallmark. Most manufacturers mark their pieces with their initials. It helps you determine your ring’s authenticity. 

Finally, the inscriptions might be custom-made. Quotes such as ‘till death do us part’ might be etched onto wedding bands. Whether this is corny or romantic is up to your own judgment. It’s just something to expect if someone passes their ring on you.

Silver symbols stamped on jewelry.

S stamp

The S stamp means that your accessory is made of silver (mostly Scandinavian Silver). However, some fake vendors might etch the S stamp onto a ring made from Chinese silver. This type is not as durable and will wear down fast.

925

You can find this number on many silver jewelry pieces – it means that they contain 92.5 % sterling silver. Sterling silver is a mixture of silver and other metals. It is because of how soft and weak its raw form is. Thanks to the additional alloys, the accessories made from this material are much more durable. However, remember that silver doesn’t tolerate water as well as gold. If you get it wet, it might blacken and lose its luster.

Fake gold chains stamped 14k

When buying precious jewelry, it’s only natural to worry about potential scams. Since gold is one of the world’s most precious metals, producing counterfeit pieces can be lucrative for would-be criminals. So, how can you tell whether your chains are truly 14k?

Firstly, you should examine the hallmark on your chain. Is it marked with just 14k? Most pieces will also have the manufacturer’s brand inscribed on them. While it’s possible to fake the karat stamp, faking the brand name is much more difficult. So if your chains lack it, it can be the first sign they’re fake.

Another thing to remember is the content of this metal in your chains. Although they may have the coveted sheen of real gold, it doesn’t mean they’re made of it entirely. Some vendors might try to sell you pieces that are either gold-plated or gold-filled. While they may look like the real deal, they wear down much faster than real pieces. Check your chains for a GP or GF stamp. If it has one of these, then it’s not pure.

Other methods to tell apart real gold from fake one are acid tests. You can perform one at home, although having a jeweler do it might be safer. Noble metals won’t dissolve in acid. If your chains do, they’re likely made from pyrite or other knock-off material.

You can also use a magnet to tell whether your 14k chains are gold-plated or gold-filled. Gold doesn’t react to a magnetic field in any way. If you detect magnetic attraction, then the base of your chain links is probably made from steel. However, this method is not the most reliable one. White gold contains a trace amount of nickel which does respond to magnets. Conversely, the base might be made of other metal that doesn’t respond to a magnetic field.

Gold-plated or gold-filled chains are also quite short-lived. Since they are just coated in precious metal, it’s easy to scratch them. When this happens, you can see the base metal under the coating.

Lastly, your chains mustn’t fall under the 10k mark. In the US market, selling anything beneath this level of purity is impossible.

Marks for platinum

Sometimes, identifying your jewelry pieces can be challenging. Metals such as platinum, white, sterling silver, and stainless steel can sometimes look similar. That’s one of the reasons why we use hallmarks. These stamps tell us about the main material used in our accessories. For platinum, look for PT, Pt, or Plat etched inside your ring.

Find my ring by picture

Considering how much the Internet has advanced over the last decade, it’s no surprise that you can now look up your rings online. All you need is the Google Lens app on your phone. With it, you can take a picture of your ring. The app will search the Internet and find what type of jewelry it is. Just make sure the image isn’t fuzzy. The clear it is, the more accurate the results will be.

How is jewelry hallmarked?

When hallmarking first emerged, most jewelry pieces were branded by a steel punch. Since precious metals are much softer than ordinary ones, the great force left a stamp on the jewelry piece. However, it could sometimes damage the ring. In rare cases, it could shatter it completely.

Nowadays, most rings are stamped with a laser. The concentrated beam can engrave the desired sign onto the surface. It seldom leads to damage. Moreover, it’s a much more precise method. 

The marks are permanent and extremely useful for identifying accessories such as rings, bracelets, and earrings. They can tell you whether your jewelry is made of real gold or not. This quality greatly affects its resell value. For instance, most people will stay away from gold-filled or gold-plated accessories. 

While it’s theoretically possible to fake these stamps, it’s incredibly difficult. The machinery necessary might not even be worth the ring’s value. But before you attempt it, know that it’s a punishable offense. Doing so will have grave consequences – you could spend several years in prison. For the most part, stamps are a foolproof way to determine the quality of your jewelry.

FAQ

Is there an app to identify jewelry?

Countless apps exist that can help you identify jewelry. The most readily available one is Google Lens. This popular app can help you identify next to anything, including jewelry. Snapchat and Pinterest are also decent options, though they might not be as reliable.

How can you tell if your jewelry is antique or vintage?

In general, every jewelry piece older than 20 years is considered vintage. But to be classified as antique, it must be at least a century old. Determining the exact age of your accessory can be tricky without the help of a professional. For example, a US jewelry piece must bear the manufacturer’s mark since 1961. However, the inclusion of purity marks became mandatory back in 1906.

Keep in mind that these milestones vary from country to country. The best way to know for sure is to have your piece examined by a jeweler.

Does antique jewelry have markings?

The practice of jewelry stamps dates back several centuries. As such, even vintage pieces will contain some kind of a hallmark. Of course, don’t expect to find a brand name there – it will mostly be just purity.

How do you identify a jewelry maker?

To identify a jewelry maker, check the stamping on your accessory. Nowadays, most brands mark their jewelry with their initials. Of course, some initials can point to multiple brands.

Conclusion

Most jewelry pieces bear some kind of a hallmark, and the most frequent stamps are brand initials and purity. The purity can be expressed in either karats or three-digit numbers. These stamps mean that your accessory is authentic because it’s difficult to duplicate them. If you’re looking for quality pieces, you should stay away from GP and GF stamps. It means the accessory is merely coated in gold, making it cheap and fragile.