Fine Jewelry 101



GOLD PLATED:  At the low end of the gold jewelry spectrum are base metal pieces usually brass that is plated with a very thin layer of gold.  These pieces generally do not last and the gold plating will wear off.  We do not carry or sell these products at Drew’s Jewels.

GOLD FILLED:  A misleading term as the metal in these pieces are not “filled” in with gold, but instead gold sheets are boned to the core metal like copper or brass.  The total gold bonded to these metals is at least 5% and the layer is thicker than gold plated.  We do not carry or sell these products at Drew’s Jewels.

GOLD VERMEIL:  Like gold filled, this gold is also bonded to a base metal as a layer of gold on the outside, however the base metal used will always be sterling silver.  We do not carry or sell these products at Drew’s Jewels.

14K GOLD:  Based on purity and percentage of gold, this is composed of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy.  Most commonly used for gold jewelry with its perfect balance of durability and appearance for everyday wear.

18K GOLD:  Less commonly used, this gold is composed of 75% gold and 25% alloy.  Though the hue of this gold is slightly brighter than 14k gold, it does not offer many additional benefits for the additional cost.

24K GOLD:  100% pure gold without any alloy added.  Not often used for jewelry as it is very soft and can bend or deform easily.




KARAT:  Used to indicate the percentage and purity of gold.  14 karat gold is made up of 58.3% gold or 14 out of 24 parts gold.  18 karat gold is made up of 75% gold or 18 out of 24 parts gold.

CARAT:  Denotes the weight of precious stones like diamonds and gemstones.  This is not an indication of stone size.




CUT:  The way diamond surfaces are cut to look with the purpose of creating the most sparkle, brilliance and beautification.

COLOR:  An important characteristic that affects a diamond’s beauty, the color refers to the amount of color and/or the lack color from the diamond stone.  Colorless diamonds are the rarest and highest quality, near colorless is the next best tier and faint color diamonds comes after that. 

CLARITY:  The assessment of imperfections on the surface and within the stone.  Diamonds with the fewest and smallest imperfections receive the highest clarity grades.

CARAT:  Refers to the diamond’s weight and not it’s size.  Larger carat weights are not always better than smaller carat weights as those other factors mentioned above can impact the stone’s quality.

LAB GROWN DIAMONDS:  Diamond stones artificially created with the same exact chemical, physical and optical features as a natural stone.  Lab grown diamonds are a fraction of the cost of natural diamonds.  We do not carry or sell lab grown diamonds jewelry products at Drew’s Jewels.  All diamond jewelry we carry contain natural diamonds mined from the earth.

NATURAL DIAMONDS:  Diamond stones which are created, sourced and mined from the earth.  With a finite number of natural diamonds available in the world, jewelry with natural stones usually retain their value better and are more valuable than the lab grown alternative.




DIY GOLD TEST KITS:  Widely available for the everyday jewelry enthusiasts, however many test kits can be difficult to use, and readings are not always accurate in determining the gold quality.  The most popular DIY test kit consists of rubbing the gold jewelry piece on a stone essentially scraping some gold off the jewelry piece and then using the gold scrapings to measure its quality with the use of varying level of acid.  This method can be inconsistent and not the ideal way for testing.


GOLD ANALYZER GUN:  An X-Ray fluorescence gun widely used by gold professional for quickly identifying precious metal content in jewelry.  When used properly this equipment can provide real time analysis in a nondestructive way.  These analyzer guns are usually very expensive, however most jewelry shops that have an analyzer gun will test/scan your jewelry piece for a small fee.


HANDHELD DIAMOND TESTER:  A testing device that emits a tiny charge of electricity through the object being tested to determine its hardness in turn verifying if the stone is a diamond as are the hard substance on earth.  There is a big misconception in using these devices where most people think if the device beeps, then it indicates the diamond is real, however the device must be calibrated first and held in a certain position where the index finger is touching the metal back plate of the device to do the testing accurately.  As a result, when using these types of testers, always make sure to test with a known real diamond first to use as a point of reference.