What Are The Little Markings Inside My Jewelry?

Written By Allie Perry March 22, 2024

What are the little markings inside my jewelry?

These letters and numbers are commonly called stamps, and they are there to let you know what your jewelry is made of!  You’ll find them inside rings, or hidden on the backs or bottoms of things like pendants or bracelets.

The stamps themselves can indicate a variety of things, so it’s important to know the different stamps and what they mean. Here are some common types of stamps you’ll find in your jewelry.

  • Karat Markings: These indicate the purity of the gold used in the jewelry. They are generally shown as a combination of numbers and letters. Purity is consistent across gold colors, so 14K yellow gold and 14K rose or white gold will all contain the same amount of pure gold; the percentage of alloy will simply be comprised of different metals to create the different colors.
  • Metal Composition Markings: Some jewelry pieces may include stamps indicating the composition of the metal used. They are generally shown as numbers, but they can include letters as well.
  • Manufacturer's Marks or Hallmarks: This type of stamp identifies the manufacturer or jeweler who made the piece. It can be in the form of a company logo, initials, or a unique symbol. Antiques can frequently be identified by the stamps that a manufacture used during certain time periods.
  • Country of Origin Marks: Some jewelry pieces may include a stamp indicating where the piece was manufactured or where the gold was sourced.
  • Quality Assurance Marks or Assay Marks: In some countries, there are regulatory stamps that indicate the piece has undergone quality testing and meets certain standards. These are helpful in distinguishing between things like solid gold jewelry and jewelry that’s gold-filled.
  • Specialty Marks: Depending on the piece's characteristics or features, there may be additional stamps indicating things like the type of gemstones used, special certifications (such as for diamonds), or specific manufacturing processes.

It's worth noting that while many jewelry pieces are stamped with these marks, some pieces may not have them, especially if they are handmade or crafted in small batches. Additionally, the absence of these marks doesn't necessarily indicate low quality. Jewelry stamps can be worn down or accidentally removed during a repair or ring sizing.

The presence of a stamp does not guarantee karatage or purity!


Buying jewelry from reputable sources is a the best practice to follow, because the most important thing you need to understand is that just because jewelry is stamped, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s stamped honestly and accurately. Some countries require stamping to be done by a third party after the metal quality is verified, but if you’re in the United States, anyone with $20 and no morals can buy a karat stamp and stamp whatever they’d like to prey on unsuspecting consumers. If you're ever unsure about the quality or authenticity of jewelry you’ve purchased or inherited, it’s always a good idea to have it evaluated by a professional.

Where do find markings on my jewelry?

If you want to see the karat stamps or hallmarks on your jewelry, you may need to do a bit of sleuthing. Here’s where you should look:

  • Rings: inside the band
  • Pendants: on the back or bottom
  • Chains: on the tabs holding the end of the chain or on a little tag near the clasp
  • Earrings: the post, ear wire, or back of the earring
  • Bracelets: inside, generally near the clasp

Be sure to check multiples parts of each jewelry piece, in case the body of the piece is a different metal than the findings like ear wires or clasps. If they are made of different metals, each will likely be marked separately.

The stamps are often very small so they don’t affect the overall appearance of the piece, and you may need to a loupe or magnifying glass to see them clearly.

How do I know what the stamps inside my jewelry mean?

Things like hallmarks or specialty marks may need a bit of additional research on your part, and will vary by country, but you should prioritize understanding karat markings and metal composition markings.

For quick reference, I’ve included the most common stamps in the directory below, but there are some you may never encounter due to regulations set by each country. For example, did you know 10k is the lowest gold purity that can be sold in America? If you ever come across 9 carat gold (often spelled with a c instead of a k) that jewelry is likely from France, the UK, Australia, Portugal, or Ireland.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the stamps you could find in your jewelry, and what they mean:



9C or 9K

9 carat gold within legal tolerances*


10 karat gold within legal tolerances*


14 karat gold within legal tolerances*


18 karat gold within legal tolerances*


22 karat gold within legal tolerances*


24 karat gold that 99.9% gold


9 carat gold


10 karat gold


14 karat gold


18 karat gold 


80% pure silver


19 karat gold


85% pure platinum


90% pure platinum


22 karat gold 


Sterling silver; 92.5% pure silver


95% pure platinum


96.8% pure silver


23 karat gold


Pure gold; Pure Platinum; Pure Silver


Gold electroplated




Gold-plated. A base metal is plated with a thin layer of gold, 0.05%.


Heavy Gold Electroplate; the thin gold layer is slightly thicker than a piece stamped GP or GE.


Included after a gold karat stamp

Plumb. The P is added after a gold karat stamp (like 14KP or 18KP) and means that the gold purity in an item is exact- 18KP is exactly 75% gold.


*Legal tolerances allow for the metal composition to be off by .003% and still carry a stamp.












Rolled Gold or Rolled Gold Plate; contain 100x more gold than pieces that are gold plated


Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel


Sterling Silver, 92.5% pure silver



How do I test my jewelry?

The easiest way to check your gold jewelry at home is to grab a strong magnet (stronger than whatever is stuck to your fridge) and see if your jewelry is attracted to it. Precious metals (and most of their alloys) are not magnetic, so if a strong magnet sticks to your jewelry, it’s probably not real.  There are exceptions though- sometimes things like clasps or earrings posts may be stainless steel while the rest of the jewelry item is not, or you might be encountering a slightly magnetic alloy, like cobalt-platinum alloys.

The magnet test is a good way to separate gold jewelry from gold plated jewelry, since the base metals in gold-plated jewelry are often magnetic.

Another way to find out if your gold is real is to use an electronic gold tester. They are available to the public, but they may be cost-prohibitive. Electronic testers are fast and easy to use, as well as being relatively accurate, but they come with a major drawback- they only test the surface of the jewelry. Your gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry will still test as gold with an electronic tester because they are unable to test whatever is inside. Think about it like a frosted cake- if there was such thing as a frosting tester (I volunteer as tribute!) The tester would think the whole thing was made of frosting, because at no point does it ever touch the cake inside.

There are many other metal purity tests like touchstone tests or acid tests, but those should be performed by professionals who have had the appropriate training.

Now that have all of this metal purity knowledge, you can familiarize yourself with the jewelry you already own, and make informed decisions about what jewelry to buy in the future!


Allie is the owner and goldsmith behind Allie Perry Designs.

Learn more about her here, or connect with her on Instagram!

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