Gold or Just Gold-Filled?

For obvious reasons, it's important to know whether your watch is in a solid gold case or whether it is merely gold-filled or gold plated. The only way to be absolutely sure, of course, is to take it to a competent and reputable jeweler and have it tested. But many watch cases are marked in such a way that you can usually figure it out if you know what to look for. Here are some pointers:

  • If the case is solid gold, it will often have a mark stating the gold content, such as "14K" or "18K". Some [especially early American] case makers unscrupulously marked gold-filled cases as "14K" or "18K", indicating that they were 14 or 18 karat gold-filled, so it is always best if the case also says something like "Warranted US Assay" after the karat marking. Again, when in doubt, have it professionally tested.
  • Some, especially European, watches express the gold content as a decimal. Pure gold is 24K, so an 18K watch would have "0.750" stamped on it and a 14K watch would have "0.58" or "0.585" stamped on it.
  • If a watch is only gold-filled it will often state that it is such. "Rolled gold" and "rolled gold plate" are similar terms that mean it is not solid gold. Note that a "14K Gold Filled" case is still just gold-filled.
  • A gold-filled case will often state how many years the gold is warranted to wear. Any time you see a period of years ["Guaranteed 20 years", "Warranted 10 years", etc.] you can be sure the case is gold-filled and NOT solid gold.
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    All text © 2000-2002 Barry S. Goldberg, Esq.

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