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Your jewel box could be a treasure chest. Finding a fortune is easier than you think if you know where and how to look for it. Whether your gold is old or new, its purity is measured in carats and is discreetly stamped on each piece of gold jewelry.

Identifying Carat Codes and Understanding Purity

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Clean an old ring gently with mild dish detergent and a soft cloth.

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Examine the ring under a bright light, using a magnifying glass.

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Look for the "carat code" stamped inside the ring band (usually in the back).

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Identify the gold content of the ring by the number in the carat code. In the United States and Canada, you will see gold content expressed in karats, with a "K." For instance, 14K indicates 14-karat gold. Europe and many other countries indicate gold content by percentage of gold to alloy. This number appears under the letters "CC." A 9-carat gold ring's carat code appears as 375, as 9/24 equals 37.5 percent gold.


A carat code identifies the gold content, maker and origin of each piece of jewelry. "Pure" 24-carat gold is only 99.9% pure. Gold is a soft metal that is not durable unless mixed with other alloys. Most jewelry is not 24-carat gold. The initials G.F. or G.P. next to the carat code indicate that jewelry is gold-filled or gold-plated. This means that a thin layer of gold was applied to metal alloy underneath, rather than mixed in with it.

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About the Author

Rae Casto

Rae Casto began writing professionally in 1982. She writes on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, art and culture for various websites. Casto holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and art from Guilford College and a Master of Public Administration in health administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.