Common Gold Markings and Their Meanings

If you’ve ever looked closely, you’ve noticed gold markings on your gold rings, bracelets, chains, and other gold jewelry. We would like to believe that all these marks are genuine, but some of the markings are used to deceive the public. I would call these fake gold marks.

If you’ve ever read through the listings of gold and silver for sale on eBay, you may have noticed some very unusual (aka deceptive) language used by some sellers. They use words like grains instead of grams to fool ignorant buyers. There are 15.4 grains in a gram. As always it is buyer beware.

So, when you look at the gold markings on your jewelry, what are they, and what do they mean? Most people know that a mark of 14k means 14 karat, but other letters beside the 14k can mean something else.

Number Marks

European made jewelry may not be stamped as 10k, 14k, or 18k like Americans may expect. Instead it may be stamped as the decimal equivalent. So a 10k ring would be .375 or 375. 14k would be .583 or 583, and 18k would be .750 or 750.

Plumb Gold

P stands for Plumb gold. So if you see 14k P that means exactly 14k. Not more, nor less. This is a good marking found on quality gold jewelry.

Markings may be found after the hallmark such as this: 12k GF, This indicates 12 karat gold filled; something we would not purchase. The actual gold content of gold filled jewelry is too small to have any market value.

Gold Filled

GE or GF means Gold Filled. If you had a piece of jewelry marked 1/20 12K GF that would be only 1/20th of gold, and the rest is other metals. This may also be called Gold Overlay. Generally, this is of little real value to most gold buyers.

Gold Plated

There are several variations of gold plated jewelry. <p>

RGP, or Bonded is Rolled Gold Plate. This is a thin layer of gold; bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal. The FTC says RGP must meet minimums of gold content by weight. It may have the appearance of real gold, but it is not.

HGE, HGEP, GP, or HGP is Heavy Gold Plated, or gold plated, and may be stamped as HGE, HGEP, GP, HGP, or not at all. This is gold electroplated to the surface of base metals. These items are of no real value to a gold buyer.

GS stands for Gold Shell. Again this is jewelry that contains only a small amount of gold, as a plating over base metal.

KP stands for Karat Plated. Sometimes silver is plated with a very thin layer of gold to make the cheaper metal appear to feel, and look like gold. Sometimes the plating is used to give gold accents to silver bracelets to make them more stylish.

Vermeil - Vermeil is a form of fake gold. It is Gold applied to a base of Sterling Silver to look and weigh close to gold. If some sells Vermeil to you as gold, you have been cheated.

Why do all these jewelry markings exist? It’s simple, gold is expensive, and growing more so as currencies lose their value. Jewelry makers look for ways to produce inexpensive jewelry, and increase their profits. That is understandable.

Scam eBay Gold Sellers


These gold sellers write up an auction that appears to be selling a pure gold item. They can be deceitful in either the title as 2 letter abbreviation, or in the description. Often, you will find a devious set of some of the gold markings above, or a deceitful wording to steal your hard earned cash.

Watch for these words:

Gold Gilding - This is a slight layer of gold over cheap base metals.


Gold Overlay - Again, a slight layer of gold over cheap base metals.


Unfortunately, there are also totally fraudulent gold markings on some jewelry. These marks are there to cheat the retail consumer. This is why gold buyers must have many tests to keep from buying fake gold jewelry. Nearly everyone has a few gold jewelry pieces they think are real, but are not.

If you have gold and silver to sell call the Honest Gold Guy of Sarasota at 941-915-2978.
Most days I am in the office from 9 to 5.
I work Monday - through Saturday. To make sure I am in please call for an appointment.

Sunday - By appointment after 2 p.m.

Please call 941-915-2978 to make an appointment.

I’ll be happy to give you a free appraisal on any gold or silver you’re thinking of selling.

I currently serve these local markets: Sarasota, Osprey, Nokomis, Venice, Lakewood ranch, University Park, Bradenton, Palmetto, Gulfport, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, St. Petersburg, Wauchula, Ellenton, and many other rural Tampa Bay Florida locations.

The Honest Gold Guy of Sarasota
3575 Webber Street, Suite 103
Sarasota, FL 34239
Ph 941-915-2978

My office is at the intersection of Webber Street, and Beneva Road. Right behind the Goodwill Donation Center, and next door to West Coast Accounting.


Gold Markings Page Updated 10/17/2012
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