750, 585, and 417 Gold Markings on Jewelry & What They Mean
What Does a 750, 585, or 417 Marking Mean?
Here's the quick answer:
- "750" means "18-karat gold."
- "585" means "14-karat gold."
- "417" means "10-karat gold."
But there's more to know about gold markings on jewelry. These letters and numbers indicate an item's purity. They stand for different varieties of gold, and some varieties are worth more than others.
Isn't your ring or necklace pure gold? If not, how much gold is in it? If your piece is stamped with other markings, then what do they mean? Keep reading to find out.
Your Jewelry Is Not Pure Gold!
Pure gold is illustrious. Yet, it is too soft to be used as jewelry. Not only would it be fragile and prone to damage and breakage, but links and moving parts would wear down quickly.
Therefore, karat gold is mixed ("alloyed") with other base metals. Common components of gold alloy include copper, nickel, and zinc, among others. These additional metals impart greater strength and durability to fine gold jewelry.
Gold of a Different Color
Mixing gold with other metals can change it's color too. Pure gold is yellow. Yet gold jewelry can be white or silver, red or rose, and green or lime instead.
Can you guess the meaning of this gold jewelry marking? (Get the answer in a moment.)view quiz statistics
Karatage, Fineness, and Purity
As you can guess from the markings on gold jewelry, there is more than one gold variety. I'm referring to the purity only, not the color or style. Different varieties of gold jewelry contain a higher or lower percentage of gold, and there are a few standard varieties.
The purity is expressed in karats or fineness. Pure gold is 24 karats and .999 fine. (It's never 100% pure.) So the various fine gold markings, or stamps, tell you the purity of each jewelry item. More karats (the number before the "K") or a higher number means higher gold content.
So, how exactly does all of this fit together?
Understanding Karats and Karatage
The term, "karat", pertains to gold, and so does "karatage" (confusingly spelled "caratage" in the UK). In the US, karats are not the same as "carats."
A carat is a unit of measurement for gemstones. So most ladies would be thrilled to wear a 1-carat ring (diamond, of course). However, she would sneer if her beau proposed to her with a 1-karat ring, if there were such a thing, because it would be completely worthless.
"I thought our love meant something to you," she would exclaim, tearfully.
Then he would reply, with a quizzical expression, "I must have misunderstood your request, sweetheart."
So, in the interest of saving relationships, it's important to clarify this distinction.
What Gold Jewelry Markings Mean
Okay, back to gold markings. Look at the table below. It displays all common gold jewelry markings, along with their meanings. So for each gold variety, it lists the fineness and karatage markings; any piece of jewelry will only be stamped with one or the other. Then it shows you what percentage of gold each variety of jewelry contains.
Common Gold Markings on Jewelry, and Their Meanings
416 or 417
583 or 585
916 or 917
How Can Two Markings Mean the Same Thing?
The chart shows that both "583" and "585" mean 14-karat gold. You'll see the same issue with 416/417 and 916/917 too. The USA allows gold jewelry to be under karat, slightly. In other words, it can be marked "10K" when it's only 9.5 karats. So the higher number marking in these three cases means that it's a higher quality gold, and not under karated.
What are you going to do with this information?
The Mystery Marking Means "Vermeil"!
Vermeil, pronounced "ver-may", is gold-plated sterling silver. The "925" is a reference to sterling silver, which is 92.5% pure silver.
What About Other Markings?
Well, that covers the meanings of 750, 585, 417, and other gold markings on jewelry.
Most fine gold jewelry is clearly marked or stamped. In which case it will display one of the markings discussed here. Some jewelry is marked with something else, instead of, or in addition to, those mentioned above.
Gold Plated Jewelry Markings
Some other markings mean a jewelry item is not fine karat gold. In that case, it's either plated or filled gold, or it's costume plain old jewelry--not real gold. See my other guide to find out more about the different kinds of gold plated jewelry, including their markings.
Hallmarks and Makers Marks
Some other markings convey details about the jewelry's origin. It may signify who made it, or where it was made, or something similar. In these cases, a logo stands for a manufacturer, and a letter may actually stand for the year of production. Google is your best chance at finding information about these kinds of unusual jewelry markings.
Video: Identifying Markings on Gold Jewelry
Video: Hallmarks Identifying Real Gold and Gems
Questions & Answers
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I have a Cartier love bracelet I got used. It has a slightly tarnished look to it but has a 750 stamp. Is it silver plated? Do I have to worry about it turning my wrist green?
A 750 mark on jewelry means 18K gold. So it wouldn't be silver plated and could be white gold, but it shouldn't be tarnished either.Helpful 192
© 2011 Stephen