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Precious Metals--Precious Gifts: Tips for Buying Platinum, Gold or Silver Jewelry

por Wilburn Gladney (2019-09-18)

The word gold, for example, used by itself, means all gold or 24 karat (24K) gold. However, because 24K gold is very soft, it's usually mixed with other metals to increase its strength and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.

The karat quality tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with other metals. Fourteen karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of base metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher proportion of gold. Most jewelry is marked with its karat quality, although this is not required by law. Near the karat quality mark, you should find the name of the registered trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark. If you do not see a trademark on a piece of jewelry, look for another piece.

Jewelry can be plated with gold in a variety of ways. Gold plate refers to items that are composed of base metal then covered with a layer of gold, done either mechanically or electronically. Eventually the gold plating wears away, but how soon depends on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is. Gold-filled, gold overlay and gold plate are terms used to describe jewelry that has a layer of at least 10 karat gold mechanically bonded to a base metal. If the item is marked with any one of those terms, the term or abbreviation should follow the karat quality of the gold used. For example, 14K Gold Overlay or 12K RGP.

Platinum is another precious metal used extensively in jewelry and is actually more expensive than gold. It is usually mixed with similar metals like palladium, or iridium. Quality markings for platinum are different than that for gold. For platinum it is based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking 900 Platinum means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum. The abbreviations for platinum--Plat. or Pt. can also be used in marking jewelry.

The words silver or sterling silver describe a product that contains at least 92.5% silver. Silver products are sometimes marked 925 which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. According to federal law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark. Some jewelry or silver items may be marked "silverplate": a layer of silver bonded to a base metal. Vermeil is a special type of gold plated product, consists or a base of sterling silver that is coated or plated with gold.

Pewter items may be described and marked as such if they contain at least 90% tin.

When you're in the Largest Financial Market for a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love, shop around. Whether it is online, in catalogs or at a traditional store make comparisons. Compare quality, price, and service. Ask about refund and return policies before you buy. And make sure you get a sales receipt containing any information you relied on when making your purchase.

Best wishes for an enjoyable and rewarding shopping experience!