Definitions of Gold Terminology

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The term ?fineness? defines a gold content in parts per thousand. For example, a gold nugget containing 885 parts of pure gold, 100 parts of silver, and 15 parts of copper would be considered 885-fine.

The word ?karat? indicates the proportion of solid gold in an alloy based on a total of 24 parts. Thus, 14-karat (14K) gold indicates a composition of 14 parts of gold and 10 parts of other metals.

The term ?gold-filled? is used to describe articles of jewelry made of base metal that are covered on one or more surfaces with a layer of gold alloy. No article having a gold alloy portion of less than one twentieth by weight may be marked ?gold-filled.? Articles may be marked ?rolled gold plate? provided the proportional fraction and fineness designations are also shown.

Electroplated jewelry items carrying at least 7 millionths of an inch of gold on significant surfaces may be labeled ?electroplate.? Plate thicknesses less than this may be marked ?gold-flashed? or ?gold-washed.?