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June 27, 2010


A reader recently asked about the marking "1/20 12K G.F." on a piece of jewellery. It occurred to me that others may be interested in the answer.

1/20 12K G.F.

What does 12K mean?

Solid, pure gold is 24 Karat. Any rating less than 24K means there is another type of metal mixed into it. Pure gold is a very soft metal. Mixing with other metals helps to strengthen it. Just remember, when talking about gold purity, 24K is the pure form of gold.

The lower the number of karats, the stronger it will be. So 10K gold is stronger than 14K gold, and 14K gold is stronger than 18K gold.

For example:
  • 24K has no additional metals, making it 100% pure gold.
  • 18K is 18 parts gold, and 6 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 75% gold.
  • 12K is 12 parts gold, and 12 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 50% gold.
The mixing of other metals with the gold is how gold variations came into existance, such as rose gold and white gold.

10 Karat is the minimum number of karats that can be marketed as Gold in the US. If you come across an item that is 8 karat, it will most like be of European origin. This may, in fact, help you to date a piece if you know when your ancestors migrated from Europe.

What does G.F. mean?

G.F. refers to the term Gold Filled. An item that is labelled gold-filled means that it has a layer of gold over the top of another non-precious base metal.

Gold-filled has been a long-accepted practice of producing quality jewellery that is much more hard-wearing, and cheaper, than equivalent articles of fine jewellery. The outer layer is gold, so it has the appearance of fine jewellery, but it has the additional strength of the base metal.

What does 1/20 12K G.F. mean?

A marking that says 1/20 12K G.F. means that the gold layer is 12K gold, and that the gold makes up at least 1/20th of the item's weight. Gold-filled is typically a thicker layer of gold than in gold-plated jewellery, meaning it will last better than gold-plated jewellery.

Assuming the same number of karats and the same mix of alloy metals, gold-filled jewellery has the same appearance as non-filled jewellery because the outer layer is exactly the same.

Gold Jewellery Online

When shopping for gold jewellery online, always look for a photograph of the gold markings. Sometimes they are hard to photograph. Sellers should always try to show a photograph of the gold markings as a form of proof to potential buyers.

Gold markings can be a little confusing at first, but once you start to learn a little about them they become less of a mystery.
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1 comment:

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