Today, most gold jewelry is made in 10K, 14K, 18K, or 24K gold. While 12k.gold jewelry is not common, it’s still made, and many heirloom and antique pieces were made using 12K gold.
What Is 12K.Gold?
A karat measures how much pure gold an item is made of. Gold is often alloyed with other metals, since it’s very soft and can easily be bent out of shape or scratched in its pure form. Combining gold with harder metals such as brass, bronze, or silver creates a more durable piece of jewelry.
Karat indicates the percentage of pure gold that’s in something.
10K has 41.6% gold
12K has 50% gold
14K has 58.3% gold
18K has 75% gold
22K has 92% gold
24K is 100% pure gold
How Can You Tell if Something is 12 Karat Gold?
Gold jewelry is typically stamped with hallmark, showing the karats. For example, 12k gold would be stamped with 12CT, 12K, 12KT, or 500 for 50% gold.
One example of 12 karat gold is Black Hills Gold Jewelry, a unique jewelry style made in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. Black Hills Gold features tri-colored gold shaped into a natural grape cluster and floral patterns. The grape leaves are fashioned from solid 12K gold, while the grapes and vines are made of 10K or 14K gold.
What Does Gold-Filled Jewelry Mean?
Most gold jewelry is gold-filled. That means the jewelry was made by bonding a layer of solid gold onto a piece of base metal. The jewelry will have the appearance of solid gold but it’s much cheaper. 12K gold is mostly used for gold-filled jewelry, not solid gold pieces.
The hallmark for 12K gold-filled jewelry is 1/20 12K GF. That means that only one-twentieth of the piece is solid 12K.gold. The remaining 95% is the base metal alloy.
12-carat gold-filled jewelry may also be marked 1/5 12K GF, or one-fifth, (20%) solid 12K gold and 1/10 12K GF indicating it’s 10% or one-tenth solid 12K gold.
What is Gold Plated Jewelry?
Anything less than 1/20 solid gold is gold-plated jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry might be hallmarked in the following ways:
RGP means Rolled Gold Plate
HGP means Heavy Gold Plate
GEP means Gold Electroplate
HGE/HGEP means Heavy Gold Electroplate
Gold-plated jewelry is generally comprised of either 1/40 or 1/50 pure gold, which means it’s worth much less than jewelry that’s gold-filled.
The Value of 12K.Gold
Solid 12K gold is 50% pure gold, so it’s definitely worth something. Keep in mind, gold-filled and gold-plated 12K jewelry only contains between 5% and 20% 12K gold. Furthermore, since 12k gold is only 50% is pure gold, that means the value of any gold-filled or gold-plated piece is essentially nothing.
The Retail Price of 12K.Gold Jewelry
When you buy gold jewelry, you are paying not only for the cost of the gold and other materials but also for labor and a retail mark-up. Generally, that means the retail price for gold jewelry is around double the value of the gold it’s made of.
Solid 12K gold jewelry has both scrap and retail value. However, if your 12k jewelry is gold filled or plated, it’s basically worthless.