Symbols Stamped on Jewelry: What Do They Mean?

A woman going through her jewelry boxThere's a question we get a lot: "What does this jewelry stamp mean?". Whether you collect fine jewelry, costume pieces, or anything in between, you've likely noticed that nearly every piece in your collection has some marking on them.

These markings can tell you important information about your jewelry; it's useful to understand what they mean. From manufacturer to metal content and more, your jewelry markings can tell you about its value and history.

Related: How to Test Gold Jewelry

Let's discuss what those symbols stamped on your jewelry means.

Metal Content Stamps on Jewelry

Many jewelry symbols you see represent the piece's metal content. It's good to know because sterling silver and silver-plated items look almost identical to most people. Understanding what your jewelry is made of can help ensure that you get the quality you were told when you bought it.

Typically, you'll find these symbols stamped on jewelry near the clasp of bracelets and necklaces, inside the surface of your rings, or on the back of earrings, brooches, and pins.

Sterling Silver Jewelry Stamps

There are three stamps that identify sterling silver jewelry:

  • .925
  • 925
  • Ster

  • These symbols mean that the jewelry is 92.5% silver mixed with another metal (like copper). On its own, silver is soft, so the content is 92.5% and not 100%—your jewelry needs the added hard metal to make it solid.

    Gold Jewelry Stamps

    Next, let's talk about the symbols you'll find stamped on your gold jewelry:

  • What does a 10k stamp mean?

  • 10k means your jewelry is 41.6% gold. That's ten parts per 24 gold mixed with different metals, like nickel, silver, and copper zinc.

  • What does a 14k stamp mean?

  • 14k means your jewelry is 58.3% gold. That's 14 parts per 24 gold mixed with other metals.

  • What does an 18k stamp mean?

  • 18k means your jewelry is 75% gold. That's 18 parts per 24 gold mixed with elements like nickel, silver, and copper zinc.

  • What does a 24k stamp mean?

  • 24k means your jewelry is 100% gold with no additives. While pure gold might sound great, it's very soft and tends to scratch and bend quite easily; that's why it's relatively rare to find pure gold (24k) jewelry.

  • Essay marks on gold jewelry

  • Essay marks are another common stamp found on gold jewelry, especially if it was made in England. The essay's office makes these marks to ensure purity, not by the manufacturer. The following numbers stand for the percentage of purity:

    • Gold: 375, 585, 750, 916, 990 and 999
    • Silver: 800,925,958 and 999
    • Platinum: 850, 900, 950 and 999

    A Note on Karats 

    Karats (like the k in 24k gold) are typically stamped as k, K, or KT; these are different from Carats. Karats measure the weight of metals, and Carats measure the weight of gems.

    Related: Diamond Grading: The Four C's

    Other Metal Content Jewelry Stamps

    Jewelry made from various metalsThere are so many different symbols stamped on jewelry—let's look at some more common ones:

  • What does the sk9 Platnaire stamp mean?

    Sk9 Platinaire means your jewelry is made of Platinaire, an alloy of 92.5% silver and 5% platinum. This jewelry is hypoallergenic.

  • What does a GE stamp mean?

    GE means that your jewelry is gold electroplated. In addition, HE means that it's heavy gold electroplated.

  • What do GP and GF stamps mean?

    A GP stamp means your jewelry is gold-plated. A GF stamp means that your jewelry has a layer of gold bonded to the other metals; it's most commonly found on gold watches.

  • What does the IP stamp mean?

    IP stands for Ion Plating, which is a solid plating technique. It's quite common on silver and gold-plated jewelry.

  • What do steel, st steel, and SS stamps mean?

    These three symbols mean your jewelry is made of stainless steel. It's an affordable option and is typically hypoallergenic.

  • What does a WGD stamp mean?

    A WGD stamp is the same as a karat for measuring weighted gold. For example, 18 WGD would mean 18 karat gold (18k).

  • What does a PD stamp mean?

    PD stands for palladium, which is commonly added to gold jewelry to create a white gold piece. It's a member of the platinum alloy family.

  • What does a KP stamp mean?

    KP means karat plumb. It's a certification that ensures the jewelry with the stamp is equal to or better than its karat rating. For example, 18kp means that your jewelry is at least 18 karats, but it may be higher.

  • What does an ABF stamp mean?

    ABF stamps are found on jewelry with antique finishes over other metals. These stamps are:

  • ABP — antique brass-plated
  • ACF — antique copper finish
  • ACP — antique copper-plated
  • AGF — antique gold finish
  • AGP — antique gold-plated
  • ANP — antique nickel-plated
  • ARF — antique or imitation rhodium finish
  • ARP — antique rhodium-plated
  • ASF — antique silver finish
  • ASP — antique silver-plated
  • Maker's Mark Jewelry Stamps

    While most symbols stamped on jewelry refer to its metal content, you'll also commonly find maker's marks that identify the company that manufactured or sold the jewelry. This symbol is often near the metal content stamp.

    Because there are thousands of jewelry companies, there are endless variations of maker's marks that you might see; it's impossible to list them all. If you find a symbol on your jewelry that isn't related to metal content, it's likely a maker's mark, and you'll need to search that specific symbol to determine the company that manufactured or sold the jewelry.

    Related: White Gold vs. Platinum Jewelry

    What do the Letters Stamped on Jewelry Mean?

    Letter stamps are either the jeweler’s personal stamp to verify that they made the jewelry or the letters designate the type of metal.

    Here are a few common letter stamps and the jewelers they represent:

    • ALE: Pandora Jewelry
    • FTH: M. Fabrikant & Sons
    • KHR: KHR Jewelry

    Common Letter Stamps for Materials:

    • Sk9: Platnaire. An alloy of 92% silver, 5% platinum, and 2% other nickel-free elements.
    • GE: Gold Electroplated
    • HE: Heavy Gold Electroplated
    • GP: Gold plated
    • GF: Layer of gold over a base metal
    • IP: Ion Plating
    • SS or ST: Stainless steel
    • WGD: Weighted gold. Similar in meaning to karat.
    • PD: Palladium
    • KP: Karat Plumb. States the karat minimum and can be higher in purity.
    • ABF: Antique bronze, copper, or brass finish

    Is There an App to Identify Jewelry?

    There are two jewelry mobile apps you can use to identify jewelry. Both jewelry apps are available on iOS and Android platforms:

    • Hallmarks- Identify Antiques: Designed to quickly identify a vintage hallmark on jewelry and other antiques.
    • AnchorCert Gemstone Weight Estimator: This app can quickly estimate the carat weight of diamonds and other precious gemstones. It measures the length, width, and depth.

    What are the Markings on Gold Jewelry?

    Real gold jewelry has a hallmark that indicates make and quality. Some markings will be difficult to read. The stamp indicates purity grade and can be marked in two ways:

    1. Clearly stating the karat level
    2. A 3-digit number

    The 3-digit number references a gold purity standards chart. What the numbers mean:

    • 375 = 9 karat
    • 417 = 10 karat
    • 583 = 14 karat
    • 750 = 18 karat
    • 833 = 20 karat
    • 999 = 24 karat (pure gold)

    Is All Vintage Jewelry Marked?

    High-quality, precious metal vintage jewelry should have a mark. These markings can be difficult to read because of wear and age. Look for marks near the clasps or inside bands. But markings can literally be anywhere on the vintage piece.

    If in doubt, take it to a jeweler for authenticity. They have more experience deciphering markings and can verify the quality.

    Can Hallmarks Ever Be Wrong?

    Unfortunately yes. There are loads of scammers that try to forge lower-quality jewelry. Jewelry made in China is often mismarked to pass jewelry off as real gold or sterling silver. That’s why knowing and trusting where you buy your jewelry is essential.

    Some scammers will also polish off markings stating that the jewelry is plated instead of pure. If you are worried about the jewelry's authenticity, you could take it to an expert, but you’ll probably have to buy it before verifying it. Again, it’s critical that you trust whom you buy from.

    At LaCkore, we use the best quality metals and clearly state the karat purities of the metals we use. You can learn more about how we make our jewelry and invest in quality materials.

    Shop our best sellers that are trending right now.

    Related Link: How to Make a Beaded Bracelet

    Find Your Next Favorite Piece of Jewelry

    A man and woman wearing jewelry and holding handsAt LaCkore Couture, we clearly mark our jewelry, so you know exactly what you're paying for — there aren't any surprises here. If you've ever bought gold jewelry online only to have it arrive with "GP" stamped on it, you're probably wary about ordering online again.

    That's why we clearly list the metal content and karat rating on all of our jewelry; don't let one bad experience take its toll on your jewelry collection.

    From bracelets and necklaces to earrings, rings, and more, shop LaCkore Couture, and find your next favorite piece of jewelry today!