There are gold objects of very different purity. Pure gold with the 999’9 hallmark (99.99% gold), i.e. 24-carat gold, is really soft, which is why other metals are added to produce various gold objects.
The 999’9 hallmark or 24K gold, i.e. fine gold is used in granule form to create alloys. Investment pieces such as gold coins and bars or bullions are also made. However, not all coins are made of pure gold. For example, the South African Krugerrand is made from 916’7 gold, containing 1 troy ounce (31.1035 g) gold just like coins made of pure gold (a troy ounce is approximately 10% heavier than a regular ounce).
Historic coins also contain less pure gold. The reason for this is purely practical – the currency was in circulation. For example, the gold content of Tsarist Russia’s Nikolai II 5-ruble and 10-ruble coins is 900 (90.0%).
Hallmark 833 or 20K gold is mainly used in the Asian jewellery industry. Older dental gold usually also bears the 800 hallmark (or higher). Today different metal alloys with various gold content are used, e.g. some alloys for dental prostheses contain little gold.
Hallmark 750 or 18K gold has a higher gold content and is used in jewellery. This is the most common alloy for creating gold accessories in Sweden, for example. It is somewhat less common in other Scandinavian countries.
Hallmark 583/585 or 14K gold (the exact hallmark for 14K gold is 583 or 14/24 = 0.58333) is the most common metal alloy for making jewellery in our region and elsewhere in Europe. Today most jewellery companies use 585 gold – the gold content slightly surpasses 14K (the metal is highly alloyed). Most gold jewellery made in Estonia and elsewhere before 1990 was hallmark 583. With these products, we can witness a larger range of valuation – even up to 10%.
Hallmark 500 or 12K gold is a common historic gold jewellery alloy.
Hallmark 375 or 9K gold is used as jewellery gold in the United Kingdom, for example.
Hallmark 333 or 8K gold is generally the lowest official standard for deeming something jewellery gold. It is used in Denmark and Greece, for example.
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STANDARD HALLMARKS AND CONTROL MARKS FOR GOLD USED IN ESTONIA
A control mark is a national assay surveillance mark. A control mark confirms that the content of a precious metal has been assessed and that the standard hallmark is representative of the alloy’s makeup.
The image of the control mark is a left-facing passant guardant lion in an oval hollow:
the control mark of Estonia is affixed to an article of precious metal only by accredited laboratory of Estonian Assay Office of Metrosert (https://metrosert.ee/en/company/assay-office//), which has the exclusive rights for Hallmarking in Estonia.
The control mark signifies the responsibility of the hallmark assessor. The precious metal content of all parts of articles carrying this mark has been tested in a laboratory.
Testing of fineness (hhttps://metrosert.ee/en/company/assay-office/testing-of-fineness/)
Precious metal analyses (https://metrosert.ee/en/company/assay-office/analyses/)
A precious metal item is considered marked in case it bears any of the following marks:
- Estonian control mark or a control mark with a fineness mark (combined fineness and control mark)
- Control mark of an EU state
- Vienna convention control mark (the CCM mark) (http://www.hallmarkingconvention.org)
Combined fineness and control marks are also used to mark gold articles:
Hallmark 375 500 585 750 916 999
DIFFERENT SHADES OF GOLD
There are three main tones of gold used in jewellery: yellow, white and red gold. In addition, there are variations on the three main tones: there are different shades from light to dark yellow, red gold ranges from light pink to reddish.
The shade of yellow gold varies from light yellow to reddish. The tone mainly depends on the ratio of silver and copper added to the gold. The more copper, the darker yellow the alloy. Usually approx. 30% of silver and approx. 12% of copper is added to 585 hallmark gold.
In case of red gold that is sometimes also called pink or rosé gold, usually only copper is added to gold. For example, 585 hallmark gold might have 33% copper and only approx. 9% of silver added.
White gold can sometimes look like silver. However, white gold that is often coated with rhodium does not lose its spark and glimmer like silver jewellery, for example. To achieve the white appearance, either silver, nickel or palladium is added to the gold. As nickel can cause allergies in some cases, white gold alloys with nickel content have lost their popularity among European jewellers. The white gold alloys sold by K.A.Rasmussen do not contain nickel.