You know all the steps to selling gold online from reading our other articles, all you’ll have to do is gather your gold, send it off for an offer, and decide whether or not you want to complete the transaction.  Obviously, when it comes to your valuables, there is more to consider than just that, but that is the bare bones of it.

So you understand that selling gold online is an easy and secure way to undertake a gold transaction.  But you’re not sure about the other steps involved – like finding gold to sell, or even understanding what objects might have gold in them.  Thankfully, there are ways to determine how much gold is in your jewelry, and it’s easier than you think.

First, you’ll want to gain an understanding of how karats work.

Consider this:  even the “gold” present in your jewelry isn’t pure gold.  Pure gold is a soft substance that’s often mixed with something harder in order for the gold to function as a frame in your jewelry.  The purity of gold is measure in karats, and the phrase “24-karat” has become synonymous with something that represents first-class, pure material.

That’s because 24-karat gold is actually pure gold.  You don’t find 25-karat gold – 24-karat gold is gold in its pure form.  This is the ceiling of the karat measuring tree, and it’s where you’ll want to start.  If you have any items in your possession that are 24 karats, you know that you actually have some pure gold to work with.

Gold is often measured against this measuring stick, meaning that 24 karat gold is gold at 100% purity.  It is then split up into 24 “parts,” in which you’ll be able to determine the percentage of gold purity present in your gold.

For example, 18-karat gold is actually 18/24 parts gold, with six parts some other metal.  This puts 18-karat gold at 75% gold.  You can do similar math for 14-karat gold, 12, and 10-karat gold.

Keep in mind that once you hit this 10-karat mark, you hit the “basement” for what’s actually considered gold in the United States.  Much like 24 karat is the ceiling for purity of gold, 10-karat gold, while still containing plenty of gold, is where many people draw the line and cease to consider a particular article to be made out of “gold.”  There may still be gold present, but it might not be described as a piece of “gold jewelry.”

In Europe, a similar system is used, but usually three digits are used in order to describe the actual percentage of gold present.  In the case of 18K gold, it would be marked as “750” because 75.0% of gold is present.

Next, now that you have an understanding about the purity and quality of gold, you’ll want to concern yourself with the quantity of gold present within an article.  It’s not just the presence of 24-karat gold that would give a piece of gold jewelry its value, but it would have to be a substantial amount of gold.  Some pieces of jewelry will have a coat of gold or filling that increases their value.

For example, gold is highly malleable, making it easy to spin into gold wire, coating, or gold leaf.  Because of this, it is easier for many people to apply a gold coating on an item of jewelry rather than make the entire piece out of gold itself, lowering the value of the gold it contains.  While the gold present might be pure gold, you still have to know your article of jewelry to really understand what’s underneath.

Newer pieces of jewelry will also help you understand how much gold is present by marking something like “1/20 12k G.F.”, which lets you know that the piece is at least 1/20th 12-karat gold in terms of weight.

After you’ve studied up on your gold, you’ll always want to take it to an appraiser anyway.  This can be done by taking your jewelry to a jeweler, or simply by going online and working with an online metal broker.  Online metal brokers will be able to take your jewelry via secured, insured mail, and then give you a fair offer based on the amount of gold they’ll be able to extract from it.

Check out our other articles to see how this process works, especially if you’ve already done a run-down of the gold in your possession.  Remember:  just because it shines that distinctive yellow shine doesn’t mean that the gold is pure or even abundant in your article of jewelry.  In order to get a grasp on the amount of gold in your possession, get educated and consult the people who know.