To be an effective buyer of gold and silver at garage sales, yard sales, flea markets and even thrift stores, one must be familiar with the basic precious metal purity markings. Gold is, for the most part, always marked with a 24k, 18k, 14k, or 10k somewhere on the piece. The clasp area of necklaces, chains and bracelets and the shank area of rings are common places to look for these identifying markings. Sometimes gold items are marked with a number indicating purity. If you find a 585 marking for example, this means that you are looking at a 14k gold piece. A 417 indicates 10k, 750 is the numerical marking for 18k gold and finally 999 represents pure 24 karat gold.
Pure silver (.999 or 999) and sterling silver (.925 or 925) are the most common silver markings you will encounter. With silver it is important to understand if an item is silver-plated as opposed to sterling. Look for markings such as ‘silver-plate’ or EP (electroplated) which indicate that the item is plated and not genuine silver. Silver-plated items are generally not valuable nor worth your time and trouble.
There is one tool that I definitely recommend purchasing as an aid to you in your search for gold and silver. A jeweler’s loupe is a small eyepiece magnifier that will help you identify purity markings that are often extremely small and sometimes nearly invisible to the naked eye. I suggest a 10x, 20x or 30x magnification loupe for your purposes. A loupe will be a great help and a smart investment for the serious gold and silver sleuth. Loupes are reasonably priced and readily available on eBay.
I suggest taking some time to further research gold and silver markings which will give you a distinct advantage over less prepared hunters. Also practice using your loupe before you begin your treasure hunt. The more knowledge you have the better your luck will be!
DJR Authentication is a premier buyer, appraiser and authenticator of jewelry, coins, collectibles, art and other fine goods, located in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina.