The metal stamp, or carat weight of the metal, is the most essential mark. The carat mark is normally visible inside the shank of your ring (the band on the bottom or side). It will most likely be listed as 10k, 14k, 18k, or Plat. These are the most often used metals and markings. There are other metals and non-metal items used for jewelry making. A good jeweler should be able to tell which materials were used in your piece.
There are three basic methods for reading the inside of a ring: touch, smell, and taste. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Which one you use depends on what information you want to obtain.
With touch, you examine the metal with your hands. This is the easiest method because you can feel different textures and temperatures with your skin. The drawback is that you cannot smell or taste anything through your hand. This method is best for general inspection purposes.
With smell, you use a chemical reagent to reveal the contents of the ring. These reagents are usually liquids but some jewelers use powders instead. They will usually say what reagent they are on the container. You pour the reagent into a bowl or glass vial and soak the article for a few minutes. Then you rinse it off under running water and dry it before looking at it under a microscope or testing it for any residual odor.
Metals, carat weights, producers, brands, jewelers, or designers are among the most commonly used markings or trademark stamps. Gold rings can also be marked with other symbols to indicate quality or craftsmanship. These include:
D-shaped holes - Holes that are almost but not quite round. They're called "d-holes" because they look like the letter D when viewed from the top.
C-shaped holes - Similar to a d-hole, except that they're more rounded. Also called "c-holes".
M-shaped holes - Like a c-hole, but with three equal sides instead of two.
T-shaped holes - Two parallel lines connected by a third line crossing at right angles. T-shaped holes are usually found in silver jewelry for aesthetic purposes.
Rings with no marking - Some manufacturers reserve the right to deny warranty coverage for their products without marking them with their logo or brand name. If you have a gold ring and want to verify its quality, you should always ask the seller about the make and model before you buy it.
Gold rings usually carry an engraved metal stamp of some sort that identifies the manufacturer and sometimes tells you the gold content of the ring.
Rings can also be identified by color, style, material, or any other characteristic. These identification marks are often found on the underside of the band where it meets the body of the ring. For example, many women's rings feature a decorative design etched into the metal using a laser process. Others are hand-painted, equipped with gemstones, or made from other materials.
Finally, rings can be identified by number or letter. These identification marks are usually found on the inside of the ring, near the base. They may be used to identify which size ring should be used for a particular finger. Some rings feature several numbers, while others use only letters.
For example, a woman might wear a ring that features both a diamond and a ruby. The ring would have the owner's name etched onto it with their family crest as well. This would be evident if you were to look inside the ring.
Gold rings usually have a content statement on the label or box describing the gold's fineness.
If you wear gold jewelry, be sure to clean it regularly with a soft brush and non-acetone solvent. Don't use chemicals such as bleach or ammonia because they will destroy the color and finish of your jewelry.
There are four grades of gold: 925, 795, 750, and 575. If you ask what grade gold is used in something like a watch, the dealer will be able to tell you that. Also, coins are graded by weight rather than quality so they are always described as "925" even if they are made from cheaper metals.
Jewelers buy gold in gram weights. One troy ounce is 31.1035 grams. So, to calculate the number of karats, simply divide the weight in grams by 31.1.
For example, if you bought a ring that said it was made of 18k gold, that would mean that it contained 0.5 oz of gold.
Look inside the ring band for the "carat code" (usually in the back). The number in the carat designation indicates the ring's gold content. In the United States and Canada, gold content is stated in karats, denoted by a "K." In Europe, it's measured in grams per carat, indicated by an "g/t."
For example, a ring with a carat weight of 22K would be 22 grains (1/22th of a grain) or 0.45 grams (if you weigh a grain, which you probably don't). A ring with a carat weight of 925/1000 or 0.925 would have a total gold weight of 91.5 grams.
Gold rings are sold by weight rather than quantity because different manufacturers use different sizes and shapes for their jewelry. Also, gold has some natural variation in quality. If you buy several gold rings, check them all for exact weights before putting them on your hand.
Karats are used instead of percentages because each manufacturer has its own formula for determining how much gold will go into a ring. Some add more silver, others more copper, but most use a combination of metals. The only way to know for sure is to read the specifications listed on the box or paper work that comes with the ring when it is being manufactured.