The value of any piece of jewelry depends on the purity of the metal used. Nearly everyone, no matter how old they may be, has heard of the hallmarking of jewelry. It is by this mark that one can see the final value of the piece.
The mark tells us quite a lot of information about the piece - its hallmark, a special mark, and a code. The deciphering of a mark and independent evaluation of a piece of jewelry is not a difficult task that anyone who has read the rest of this article can do.
What is gold assay - definition of the term
Pure gold is too soft on its own; it is so malleable that it can be molded by hand. Works made of it would be too short-lived. The problem is solved by mixing in new additives.
Gold jewelry grades show the ratio of part of the precious metal to the remainder of the impurities. For example, the highest 999 grade contains 99.9% of pure gold, while the remainder is due to foreign elements.
All jewelry products containing more than 30% precious metals are subject to branding.
You cannot do without additives at all, as they give the product hardness and allow the jeweler to experiment with shades.
Ligature and basic impurities in gold alloys
The additives introduced are called ligatures, and their amount changes the final properties of the alloy. Natural gold color - yellow, but thanks to the ligature it is possible to achieve a wide variety of shades, from red to tarred.
In Russia it has long been customary to add copper to the precious metal, due to which our gold had a characteristic red color. Europe at all times preferred a rich yellow color.
The ligature may consist of the following metals:
- Zinc. In a certain amount can help achieve an emerald shade, increases the fluidity of the material, reduces the melting point.
- Platinum. Increases the melting point, helps achieve a radiant waxy color.
- Nickel. Increases the resistance of the alloy to mechanical damage and corrosion, brightens.
- Silver. Makes the precious metal lighter, increases casting properties and final hardness.
- Palladium. Increases the melting point, improves ductility, and makes the alloy lighter.
- Copper. The best additive for stiffness, gives a reddish hue.
- Cadmium. Increases foundry properties, gives a greenish color.
Interesting fact: to get the blue color of the metal, gallium is added to the composition, for a purple hue, aluminum is required. The marking does not affect the color. The precious metal of the same purity comes in different shades.
All world systems for determining the purity of gold
Among the four well-known systems, the metric and carat systems are the most common. They are also the main systems. The lot and carat systems have become a thing of the past as the oldest methods of assessing the purity of a precious metal.
The spool sample system from tsarist times
In 1798, precious goods began to be assayed in Russia. The system was built on the basis of the Russian pound, which contained 96 gold pieces.
The proverb "a small gold coin but a dear gold coin" refers just to the Russian pound.
The following values were used for the calculation system: 36, 48, 56, 72, 84 gold spoons, etc. Thus, 36 gold pieces reported that the mass of gold was 0.375 of the total weight of the alloy, and 48 gold pieces reported 0.500.
The branding of those times could tell a lot about the product in addition to the proof. It was possible to find out what province the ornament was made in, what factory, the year of creation, and who was the master. This system was abandoned after the revolution of 1917.
Important: There is a special formula for converting from the spool calculation tool to the metric one that we are familiar with. The two-digit number of the sample is divided by 96, then - multiplied by 1000.
The metric system of gold samples
Today this method of calculation is generally accepted because it is considered more accurate than the others. It has been introduced in our country as optional since 1899, as drafted by Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev.
The calculation is uncomplicated and clear, it determines how much pure precious metal is in one kilogram of alloy.
The purest gold is the 1000 mark.
It can easily be determined that, for example, the lowest 375 marking includes 375 grams of the purest element to 625 grams of impurities.
The lot system of Old Europe
This system was the main system for Western Europe until the transition to the metric system. It is now used by some Scandinavian countries. Here the weight of the precious metal is measured in marks, in German. A stamp contained 16 lots. Jewelry was marked in Roman numerals.
The numbers correspond to the number of lots of the precious metal in one stamp. So the stamp "8 lots" indicated that the purest mass of gold was 0.500 of the total weight.
Important: To revert to the carat system, divide the lot value by 2 and multiply the total by 3. To convert to the metric system, divide the value by 16 and then multiply by 1000.
The carat system in Europe and the United States
This current system is designed exclusively for "solar" alloys. It is designated by the letter "K". Carat calculation refers to the amount of pure element per 24 parts of the alloy. 24K is the purest precious metal.
For example, a 10K impression means that out of 24 parts of the precious metal, 10 are allocated to gold and 14 to impurities.
В karat sampling system of gold are found in the designations from 9 to 24This is the name of a plant formerly used by Oriental craftsmen. This is the name of the plant formerly used by Oriental craftsmen in jewelry.
Summary table of all sample systems
If the need arose to translate the value of one system to any other, it will be convenient to use the table:
|Metric||Spooler||Lot||Carat||Percent gold content|
|990-999||96||16||24К||99% and higher|
Which assay is considered the best
The answer to this question lies in the criteria by which the alloy is evaluated. If evaluated from the side of damage resistance, the leading positions will be taken by low grades, and when evaluating the purity of the precious metal, by high grades.
The dilemma of "what is the best gold hallmark?" can only be answered individually, based on personal preference.
The highest grade of gold
It is malleable and fragile, requires careful handling, absolutely unsuitable for creating fine ornate work.
The cost per 999 gram is much higher than the most popular 585.
999 metal It is amazingly malleable, which allows it to take any shape, from a five-leaf flower to the most complex geometric shapes. The ability to create is limited only by the imagination of the master.
The most successful assay of gold
750 marking This alloy is easy to manipulate in a variety of filigrees and is ideal for jewelry of all kinds and complexity. This alloy is easy to manipulate in a variety of filigree manipulations and is ideal for jewelry of varying complexity.
The only drawback of this precious metal is its high cost. Many renowned jewelry houses use only this metal or higher to emphasize the status of their products. Alloy 750 pieces inlaid with diamonds can become a truly royal gift.
In the field of jewelry, alloy 750 is called the "gold standard.
The most sought-after gold grade
The 585 alloy is beloved by most for its outstanding price-quality parity. A decent percentage of the purest metal is combined with an almost equal percentage of alloys, giving the piece an additional resource of strength.
This alloy is resistant to everyday wear, does not darken due to contact with water, has a wide range of different shades, is used to create a variety of products. It can be called average among other materials in terms of precious metal content.
This gold is used to make not only jewelry, but also cufflinks, studs, cups, writing instruments, paper clips, gift figurines, and much more.
The strongest assay of gold
Z75 alloy contains only 37.5% of the purest precious metal. Its main elements are copper and silver. It is they that increase the wear life of the alloy.
Z75 gold is less appreciated and its price is definitely the lowest on the market. Although a few decades ago, this metal was not inferior to the 585 grade.
Cheap products cannot boast a respectable shine after years of wear, but they do not distort or scratch. With proper care, they do not leave streaks on the skin and the color does not fade. The lowest grade of gold is the strongest among the others.
Pawn shops buy up low-grade products in order to send them to be melted down and recycled.
Cost of gold per 1 gram. Fixing the price of gold
Calculation of the current prices is carried out by the Central Bank of Russia, based on the rates of the main UK exchange. From the value of the purest 999 proof will depend on the current quotation of other alloys. On the exchange designation of gold looks like this - "HAU".
To determine the current value of any sample, multiply the current price of the highest alloy by the required coefficient (for example, by 0.Z75). In this way you can get the price per gram of precious metal of the desired grade.
If you look at the stock exchange, for the year 2021 rates One gram of the purest precious metal varies in the region of 4256 rubles. Based on this value, the following figures will be relevant:
- Z75 proof - 1596 rubles per gram;
- 500 - 2128 rubles;
- 585 - 2,489 rubles;
- 750 - 3,192 rubles;
- 875 - 3,724 rubles;
- 958 - 4,077 rubles;
- 999 - 4251 rubles.
Jewelry stores are guided by the rates on the exchange, but they set their own prices for the goods. The markup can be minimal or one hundred percent, it entirely depends on the company's policy.
Pawnshops always accept pieces many times below the market price. Moscow pawnshops are the most expensive places to buy jewelry.
Gold alloys in Russian history
Antique markings have long been out of date, you can see them only on antique works of those times. They are echoes of pre-revolutionary and tsarist Russia, and the items themselves are of historical value.
Let's take a closer look at what gold assay was relevant for those times.
The assay of the old Tsarist gold
The tsar's high-grade gold was also called ducate gold. It was used to mint coins and was equal to 93 gold pieces, or 969 proof in the metric system. The precious metal was introduced in 1701, as a result of the monetary reform of Peter I. In the course of this reform monetary circulation became unified throughout the country.
All ducat currency had a clearly established weight of 3.47 grams, where 3.36 grams was pure gold.
The king's gold is also referred to as 56 proof. It was used by craftsmen of those times for their creations. The single composition of the 56th grade included copper, nickel, silver, and palladium.
By today's criteria 56 proof equals 585.
"Wormwood" means scarlet. Contained in a small amount of copper gives a characteristic cast of scarlet color. It was used to cast half of all the wedding rings for the nobles in the era of tsarist Russia.
By today's standards, the tsar's gold corresponds to 999.
This precious metal is now used to cast bank ingots.
Soviet Union gold assays
Virtually every USSR jewelry work Marked with the "58Z" imprint. The assay is equivalent to the generally accepted 585, had a crimson tone due to increased copper content and was even later called the "Soviet" or "Moscow" brand.
With the final fall of the Iron Curtain, the entire country abandoned the "Soviet brand" and switched to the generally accepted 585.
The law and the body controlling gold transactions in Russia
The body in charge of certifying alloys for the presence of precious metals is the Assay Inspectorate of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
The unit is responsible for checking for certification, sealing products with a personal brand, and issuing quality certificates.
The law controlling transactions with gold is called "On the Marking of Articles of Precious Metals.
GOST and its significance today. Standard samples of Russia
GOST R 5Z197-2008, which prescribes the marking of precious metals based on their composition, was established in Russia. According to this standard, there are 375, 500, 583, 585, 750, 875, 916, 958 and 999 grades of gold.
GOST establishes norms and standards mandatory for certified manufacturers.
Gold grades for jewelry in Russia
The 375, 585, and 750 markings are widespread in the Russian Federation. They are present in the shop windows of almost every specialized boutique.
Statistics report that the leading position in sales in Russia is 585 alloy.
The above list of existing grades is far from complete. GOST 6835-85 describes 18 different grades and 40 gold alloys.
What is gold marking
Marking is a special code in the form of an imprint.
Marking has become mandatory for Russian manufacturers since January 1, 2021. It is applied in the Assay Chamber by a special laser. The purpose of the marking is to protect the buyer from counterfeit products, including foreign ones.
In common parlance, a marking is a set of proper marks on the surface of a precious product.
Branding and hallmark on Russian jewelry
The correct stigma structure commits to this order:
- First, the cipher of the State Assay Control Inspectorate is given.
- The ideogram of the assay certificate is placed next.
- The numerical value of the sample is placed last.
The cipher looks like a letter, by which you can find out the address of the inspection. For example, the letter "C" indicates that the jewel was inspected in Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Perm, or Udmurtia. "L" stands for the Republic of Karelia, the regions of Novgorod, Murmansk, St. Petersburg.
An assay certificate is a tiny imprint of a woman's silhouette in a kokoshnik. The hallmark on the gold guarantees that it has passed the inspection for compliance with the standards specified by GOST.
On the precious products of Soviet times instead of a woman you can see a five-pointed star, an integral symbol of that era.
Marking of bank gold bars, jubilee coins
Such items are marked differently. You can see the weight in grams, the percentage of gold, and the number on the ingot. There is no assay stamp, because the ingot itself is practically the purest precious metal.
Jubilee coins are made of alloy 900 and higher. The key value lies in the rarity of the commemorative coin. For example, numismatists will buy antique coins at the maximum price.
Dental gold assay
Gold has been adapted to the creation of dentures and fillings since antiquity. Dental gold is a special alloy, where pure precious metal accounts for 90% of the total mass, 6% for copper and the remaining 4% for silver.
Such an alloy corresponds to 900, one of the highest samples of gold.
Copper makes the alloy strong, silver shades the crimson cast. In dentistry, this particular alloy is used because it is easy to forge, resistant to corrosion, and does not cause allergies in a large proportion of clients.
Assay and marking of gold leaf
Leaf gold is the thinnest leaf of the highest 999 purity, traditionally used for decoration. Gold of high purity is used to cover expensive designer frames, icons, and domes. It is even used in culinary arts: in restaurants that practice gastronomic modeling, it is used as a food additive. Susal additive has a unique code - E175.
Gold in electronics
The metal has high electrical conductivity, does not fade, does not rust. It is most often sold to cover transistor contacts, connections in semiconductor components.
In the last five years, more than 1,000 tons of gold have been sold in electronics.
Metal used in electronics is referred to as technical metal. It has not been purified of foreign elements, and it cannot be used in the precious trade. Therefore, it is not possible to correlate the technical alloy with any assay.
Gold in medicine and cosmetology
Top-grade gold boosts the body's immunity and resistance, which is why it is often sold for medical purposes. The purest material is used to create nano-capsules capable of treating cancer.
In the Land of the Rising Sun, this material is actively used in cosmetology, as its best ability to identify problem areas of the skin and heal them has been proven.
Gold without hallmark. How to determine its authenticity
Why can there be no hallmark on a genuine precious metal? There are several reasons:
- Year of Creation. If this is a genuine antique, it may have been produced at a time when marking was not treated with the proper rigor.
- Over the years, the seal can rub off due to the softness of the metal.
- Unique products of private production are sometimes not labeled.
- The piece may be from a private jewelry collection.
- Gold jewelry from other countries may not be stamped due to more relaxed production conditions. For example, artisans in Turkey are allowed not to hallmark jewelry. Such a purchase should be treated with special care.
- Too small items weighing up to 3 grams may not be marked.
Lack of branding can also inform about counterfeiting. It is sometimes impossible to distinguish a fake by only external characteristics.
Top 5 ways to detect fakes
You can tell if the precious metal in front of you is real or not by visiting a jewelry shop.
You can independently verify the authenticity in the following ways:
- A small test using a lapis pencil from the drugstore containing silver nitrates. The test requires you to wet the item, then run the pencil over its surface. On any metal, except gold, there will be traces of the lapis pencil.
- Try dipping the jewelry in the vinegar. The metal should not darken.
- Smell the product. Real precious metal has no odor, this is a very important distinction.
- Place the decoration inside the black fresh bread. Leave it for several days. When the bread ferments, you need to take out the product. On the real gold will not be traces of mold, oxidation.
- Try putting the jewelry to the magnet. The less precious metal the alloy contains, the stronger the effect of attraction is observed.
Acid method for determining the gold assay. Cost of the nitrogen kit
The effect of aggressive chemicals on "solar" alloys is that they leave blotches of coffee color. There is a rule: lower the assay, darker the streaks.
This test can be done at home. Almost any acid can be used for the experiment, nitric acid is most often used.
The cost of a nitrogen test kit is about 1,000 rubles in specialized jewelry stores. It is recommended to buy such a set when the test is planned to be carried out more than once.
Video: what is the assay of gold, how they differ
Does the color of the gold affect the grade
Color of precious metal depends on the ligature contained. Usually alloys of the same assay have an identical price for scrap.
However, if the composition of impurities contains platinum group metals, the price will be higher.
The same situation is observed with alloys of rare hues, because they require unique rare components.
Variety of shades of gold
A rich and radiant yellow is the color of the purest gold. The following table looks at the most common grades and their casts obtained by adding various elements to the composition.
What is considered the best proof for jewelry, engagement rings?
A 585 grade is best for wedding rings. More than half of the alloy is pure precious metal, and the remainder, coming from the ligature, will make the ring stable in everyday wear.
Is yellow gold a higher proof than white gold?
What kind of proof is a gold watch made of?
By the way, the most expensive watch is made of gold. It is a RolexBaoDai, made especially for the Emperor of Vietnam. Now their value exceeds 5 million dollars.
Where can I buy 999 gold?
You can buy bars at Sberbank branches, where they sell silver, platinum, and palladium in addition to gold precious metal.
What is better than 750 proof or platinum?
The pluses of the 750 marking include: wear resistance, cost is lower. Minus: possible allergies.
It is impossible to say that one metal is good and the other is bad, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The final choice depends on the taste of the buyer.
What is the most expensive assay of gold and why?
One kilogram of 999 alloy has only one-tenth of one percent of impurities. It is practically the purest precious metal, which explains its highest possible value. It can be considered hard currency.
What does the gold hallmark look like?
The assay looks like three numbers indicating the ratio of pure precious metal to other elements in the composition.
The highest gold hallmark in jewelry in Russia?
Jeweler's recommendations: how not to buy a fake
Examine the jewelry you like for the name and brand, so that you know exactly what kind of gold you are selling. Read the tag on the piece, and always ask for the receipt when you buy it.
If you buy jewelry in a jewelry shop, ask the jeweler for a certificate from the assay office about the registration.