Golden seal: definition and types.

Whether solid gold, white gold or rose gold, hallmarking is an engraving or indentation that allows you to recognize the gold content contained in an object (jewelry, watches, etc.). Regarding gold, there are five different hallmarks. Explanations!

Gold mark in France: an obligation

The state controls the level of purity of precious metals (gold, silver and platinum).

France has its own hallmark system to manage gold objects in the territory.

  • It is the Ministry of Economy and Finance, through the guarantee offices (which are part of the customs service), who places the punches on articles made with precious metals.
  • Only the Paris guarantee office is authorized to place the 24-carat gold hallmark.

The marking made on a work of precious metal can be metal marking in recess with a mechanical tool called a punch – or laser (decree no. 2013-411 of May 17, 2013).

What are gold jewelry hallmarks used for?

Golden seal: definition

The gold hallmark is a mark placed on a gold jewel or object, which allows defining the carat, that is, the percentage of gold contained in the jewel or object.

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So it is a way to know if an object is real gold or not. The higher the carat, the higher the gold content.

Also read: Commodity market: principle and operation

What is a carat?

The carat is a unit of measurement that allows you to know the level of purity of gold.

The carat represents 1/24 of the total mass of an alloy. So, 18K gold means that there is 75% gold (18/24 × 100 = 75%) in hallmarked jewelry.

In details:

  • A piece of jewelry containing 99.9% pure gold is said to be 24 carats.
  • A piece of jewelry containing 75% pure gold is said to be 18 carats.
  • A piece of jewelry containing 58.5% pure gold is said to be 14 carats.
  • A piece of jewelry containing 37.5% pure gold is said to be 9 carats.

What is a thousandth? ?

This is the second type of classification used to certify the value of a precious material.

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The thousandth corresponds to the ratio between the mass of gold and the total mass of the alloy.

What is the difference between a manufacturer’s mark and a responsibility mark?

In addition to the guarantee mark that certifies the gold level, two other types of marks are currently in force in French territory:

  • The maker’s mark is that of the goldsmith craftsman or the manufacturer of the gold object. It is diamond-shaped with the manufacturer’s initials and symbol.
  • The mark of responsibility is that of the importer of the gold object. It has an oval shape.

Where are the gold hallmarks on a jewel?

Depending on the size of the object, the contrasts will be more or less important, but it is essential to identify them to assess the value of an object.

Please note that the seal is usually illegible to the naked eye; it is necessary to use a magnifying glass.

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in a ring

On rings, the gold hallmark is usually engraved on the inner or outer side of the ring.

On a necklace or bracelet

In a necklace, chain or bracelet, we find the gold punch at one of the ends of the jewel, near the closure.

in a clock

On watches, the engraving is located on the inside or outside of the case.

What are the different hallmarks on rings, jewelry and gold objects?

Seahorse Punch: for gold bars

In 2002, France created a seal for 24-karat (999 thousandths) gold. It is a seahorse in profile surrounded by a listel.

This type of seal appears almost only on bars and ingots, because 24-karat gold is too soft for the manufacture of jewelry, most often made from 18-karat yellow metal.

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The eagle seal: in 22 carat gold

The premium solid gold (22 karat) hallmark depicts an eagle in profile contained within a beveled rectangle. The seal number, a “1” (for “first title”), is indicated at the bottom right, below the eagle’s beak.

Like 24 karat gold, 22 karat gold is rarely used for jewelry making because it can warp with use.

How to recognize gold from 750 to 18 carats?

In force since 1994, this seal depicts an eagle’s head in profile surrounded by a hexagon. It symbolizes 18-karat gold (750/1,000), the most used in the manufacture of high-quality jewelry.

The seal number appears at the bottom right, below the eagle’s head, as on the first seal of the title, except here it is a three.

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The eagle’s head also cannot be surrounded by anything, especially in the context of sign delegation:

  • We speak then of a “small guarantee”, because the contrast is not provided by the State, but by the manufacturer.
  • The purity (750/1,000) is identical to that guaranteed by the head of the eagle framed by a diamond or a hexagon (18 carats).

The scalloped punch: for gold alloys

The scallop shell framed by a listel symbolizes a metal whose pure gold content is equal to 14 carats (585/1,000e).

A jewel that bears this type of hallmark is not considered solid gold, but rather a gold alloy.

The clover-shaped punch: for weak gold alloys

The seal showing a clover symbolizes a metal with a gold content of 9 carats (375/1,000e). It can be placed by:

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  • the warranty office;
  • in delegation.

It is found in new and used works. A piece of jewelry with this type of contrast is considered to have a low gold alloy.

Also read: How to buy gold?

How to recognize gold plating?

The gold bath corresponds to a layer of gold deposited on another material, which can be variable.

It is also recognizable thanks to its square stamp, which indicates that the jewel is gold plated.

How to recognize international gold hallmarks?

The diamond stroke

An international convention, which France has not signed, defines standardized gold hallmarks.

They are quite easy to read since it is a diamond with, inside, the purity level of gold in figures.

925 stamp: gold or silver?

Although international gold hallmarks may also stamp “925” and “950”, the 925 (thousandths) hallmark indicates that the jewelry is sterling silver.

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Contrasts that appear in second-hand works of foreign or uncertain origin

The “small guarantee” mark

When it is a jewel of French origin in 18 carat gold, the hallmark represents an eagle’s head (which is not surrounded by a diamond or a hexagon), what is known as “small guarantee” in 750‰ gold .

New imported works are contrasted in the same way.

The owl punch

In force since 1994, the owl seal designates second-hand gold objects of foreign or uncertain origin.

Guarantee that the jewelry is made of at least 750‰ (18 carat).

The extraterrestrial seal

The ET stamp, “Exempt from title”, is affixed to second-hand gold items and means that the jewelery is made of a quality lower than 375‰ (9 carats).

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This seal is generally only affixed if the object is of artistic or historical interest.

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