When it comes to family heirlooms, jewelry is a big one. Simply because of the numerous pieces a person might have, it may be hard to identify exactly what you have if you weren’t the original owner or purchaser.
Here are a few solid guidelines to help you identify jewelry quickly:Precious metals will almost always be stamped somewhere into the metal of the piece. On rings, the most likely place is on the inside of the band. As for necklaces and bracelets, you will most commonly find the stamp on the clasp. You may want to dig out your magnifying glass or a even a jeweler’s loop because these stamps range from tiny to tinier!
Precious metals consist of gold, silver and platinum.
GOLD:Real gold jewelry will be stamped with one of the following Hallmark identifiers: 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or 24K. These are the American stamps. The equivalent in European stamps are: 375 (9K), 585 (14K), 750 (18K) and 916 (22K). “K” stands for karat, which is the measurement of the purity of the gold. “Karat” should not be confused with “Carat” which is the measurement of weight in diamonds and other precious stones.
Note: Gold can be one of several colors: yellow, white, rose, and green.
SILVER:Real silver will be stamped with one of the following stamps (American or European): 800, 925, 958, or 999. It may also be stamped “sterling”. a note about silver: Stones set in silver would most likely be considered semi-precious or simulated stones, however, depending on the era, precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds MAY have been set in silver. So don’t discount these items without checking first!
PLATINUM:If a piece is platinum, look for the letters PLAT or PT with the numbers 850, 900, 950 or 999. The number indicates the purity of the platinum. Platinum is 40% to 60% heavier than gold, and jewelry made of platinum will be more expensive than that of gold because it is more rare than gold.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what may be “real”, it might save you a trip to the jeweler on pieces you have no knowledge of. Of course, if there is ever a question, make sure to consult with a reputable jeweler for accurate information.
As for jewelry you own, documenting it now, explaining the sentiment behind the piece will be beneficial to your heirs. Heirloom Vault is an easy and convenient way to memorialize your stories so your loved ones aren’t left guessing. How sad it would be that a special or sentimental piece of jewelry you own ends up in a pawn shop or thrift store, or worse…the trash.
Special thanks to Apex Jewelers of Parker Colorado for information and collaboration.