Precious Metals Glossary


Gold Nugget 24k Gold Ingot 24k Gold Jade Necklace South Africa Gold Krugerrand

A good thermal and electrical conductor, gold is generally alloyed to increase its strength, and it is used as an international monetary standard, in jewelry, for decoration, and as a plated coating on a wide variety of electrical and mechanical components.

Gold Alloys

Gold Alloys are common with jewelry, the most common alloying metals are silver, copper, and zinc. However, other metals may be added, especially to make colored gold.

Karat Gold

The karat system is used to reveal the amount of pure gold found in an item.

  • 24 karat (24K) gold is pure gold.
  • 18 karat (18K) gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts another metal(s), making it 75% gold.
  • 14 karat (14K) gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts another metal(s), making it 58.3% gold.
  • 10 karat (10K) gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts another metal(s), making it 41.7% gold. 10k gold is the minimum karat designation that can still be called gold in the US.

Gold Filled

gold filled diagram

Gold Filled Jewelry or other item with a sheet of gold applied to its surface. Newer items contain markings that indicate how much and what type of gold was used in the layer. Example: a marking of 1/20 12K G.F. means that the piece is at least 1/20th 12K gold by weight. A metal item that has a very thin layer of gold applied to it. The thin layer normally wears away more quickly than gold in a gold filled item.

Plumb Gold

As with many things, the percentage of gold content can be a more difficult question than it seems like it deserves. Jewelers have had pretty good scales for a long time and alloying accurately is not difficult. The problem comes when the finished item has more than one metallic component. Solder, for example, is traditionally a little lower in gold content so a piece that is assembled using solders will, in the aggregate, have a slightly lower karatage. This logic is why the US has allowed 13.50001 karat to be marked 14k. The Europeans have not taken the same approach. In Europe, 18k means a minimum of 18/24 gold and there are relatively severe penalties to the manufacturer for screwing it up. Not surprisingly, metallurgists have figured out that that extra 0.49/24 bonus is easy to arrange and can add up to a fair amount of money so American manufacturers developed a reputation for selling less than they were promising. The reputable manufactures have responded by selling ‘plumb’ gold, which means that they are using the absolute definitions and usually a little more just to stay out of trouble. Most manufacturers are now doing this and, actually, plumb solders are now readily available as well.


Fake Rolex Hallmark Genuine Rolex Hallmark Sterling Silver Hallmark
  • A mark indicating quality or excellence.
  • A mark used in England to stamp gold and silver articles that meet established standards of purity.


Natural Silver Silver Casting Grains Silver Ingot Bar Pure Silver Coin

A lustrous white, ductile, malleable metallic element, occurring both uncombined and in ores such as argentite, having the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of the metals. It is highly valued for jewelry, tableware, and other ornamental use and is widely used in coinage, photography, dental and soldering alloys, electrical contacts, and printed circuits.

Coin Silver

US Silver Dollar US Silver Coins Coin Silver Watch Coin Silver Spoon

An alloy of 90% silver, 10% copper; has been used for coining American currency.

Solid Silver

From 1 January 1999 new European legislation has brought the British hallmarking system in line with the rest of Europe. Until then, only wares containing a minimum of 925 part per thousand of pure silver were hallmarked and allowed to be referred to as solid silver. This new legislation allows a wider range of purity to be marked in the UK as silver. This means that a lower grade of silver (800) can also be marked in this country. Any "silver" without a suitable Sterling Guarantee hallmark should be treated as "white metal" as there is no guarantee as to how much silver the metal contains.

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver Flatware Sterling Silver Tea Set Sterling Bracelet

Sterling silver is a high-grade alloy that contains a minimum of 925 parts in 1,000 of silver (92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent of another metal-usually copper).

Silver Plate

Silver Plated Spain Electroplated Nickel Silver Quadruple Plated Silver

1. A coating or plating of silver.
2. Tableware, such as flatware or hollowware, made of or coated with silver.
Note: Silver Gold Buyers does not buy silver plate.


Platinum Nuget Industrial Platinum Platinum coin

A silver-white metallic element occurring worldwide usually mixed with other metals such as iridium, osmium, or nickel. It is ductile and malleable, does not oxidize in air, and is used as a catalyst and in electrical components, jewelry, dentistry, and electroplating.