By charlie

sell gold jewelry canada

Stamps, Marks, and Hallmarks

When we go to buy something, we tend to look for the information. Whether we’re buying a new cellphone or computer or an appliance or a car, we want to see the specifications written somewhere so we know who made it, where it was made, and, most importantly, what’s in it. Gold Stamps, Marks, and Hallmarks help us do that with Gold. 

At Canada Gold, a big part of our job is to identify the items that come through our stores. Of course, testing the item is the sure way to determine what it is (check out our blog post for how we test, but before we do that, we look for information, and the information comes in the form of stamps, marks, or hallmarks. Understanding what the stamps and marks mean is also a good way for sellers to identify what they have before they go to sell.


Karat is the unit to measure the gold purity. How the karat system works is explained in another blog post (, but the chart below explains the percentage of gold for each different karat.

gold karat

Even though we test each item’s gold purity, a karat stamp helps us determine what we are testing for. If we see a 14k stamp on an item, we want to make sure it tests as 14k. Some items, usually old or hand-crafted jewelry, don’t have stamps. This doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t real. It only means we have to be extra particular with our tests to make sure it’s real and how much gold is in it. Then we can give you a top, fair price for your gold.


Gold-plated, gold-filled, and sometimes called, rolled-gold, is considered “fake” gold. Most of the time this is indicated on the item next to the karat stamp. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Stamps you would normally see are:

  • G.P. (gold-plated)
  • GEP (gold electro-plate)
  • G.F. (gold-filled)
  • R.G.P. (rolled gold-plate)


Instead of a karat system to measure purity, silver has one, standardized purity called “Sterling” and then there is everything else. The reason I say this is because sterling silver is the only silver purity standard under the Code of Federal Regulations; everything else, whether it’s a purity higher or lower, cannot be considered (marked) as sterling silver. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other alloys such as copper, nickel, or zinc. Items that are authentically sterling silver are stamped with:

  • STER
  • 925


In addition to the three stamps above, hallmarks are used to indicate that an item is made with “standard silver” or sterling silver. Hallmarks are traditionally a British certifying system and are found on flatware and silverware, and each hallmark indicates: 1. Silver Standard Mark (indicating the silver content) 2. City Mark (the city it was manufactured in) 3. Duty Mark (the tax on the item that has been paid to the crown) 4. Date Letter (the year it was certified for silver content) 5. Maker’s Mark (who manufactured it) and 6. Import Marks (indicating it was in a foreign country).

sterling hallmarks


The one we’re interested in is the “Silver Standard Mark” reperesnted as the walking lion facing left, like the one above fourth from the left. It is called a lion passant and it was introduced in 1544 as a British sterling standard hallmark. In this post, we will not go through the other types of hallmarks, but stay tuned for an upcoming post on British Hallmarks.


There are also hallmarks to indicate whether flatware/silverware is plated, much like the plated stamps used for gold. Most flatware and silverware is not solid sterling; therefore, unless it is stamped with STERLING, STER or 925 or has the British lion passant, it is more than likely plated.

Commonly on plated flatware you will see the word “PLATE”, “PLATED”, “INLAID” or “SOLDERED” and then there are marks to identify the electro-plating used: “EPNS” (Electro Plated Nickel Silver), “EPBM” (Electro Plated Britannia Metal) “EP” (Electro Plated), “BP” (Britannia Plated), “EPCA” (Electro Plated Copper Alloy), “EPGS” (Electro Plated German Silver), “EP ON COPPER” (Electro Plated on Copper), “ESM” (Electro Plated Silver Mounts), “EPWM” (Electro Plated White Metal), “MP” (Magneto Plate).

There are also hallmarks to indicate the grade of silverplate. British electroplaters used a letter code for their plated wares. The best quality is”A1” or “AI“, lower level is”A”, next level is”B“, followed by level “C“, and the lowest level “D“. Normally, these are accompanied by other British hallmarks . Locating the silverplate grade hallmarks will eliminate the mystery of whether your flatware is plated or not.



There are a lot of different “silvers” out there that aren’t sterling silver. Some of them are silver, just not sterling quality, while others are labeled as silver when they contain little or no silver at all.

Silver jewelry in Mexico is usually stamped with “MEX925”. Although the “925” suggests sterling quality, the items are not certified sterling; therefore, some pieces might be sterling silver and others could be less.

Other non-sterling silvers are stamped “800” which is 80% silver. Others are stamped “950” which is 95% silver. 950 silver would be considered sterling silver, but it is actually closer to an older silver standard called “Britannia Standard” silver which is 958 or 95.8% fine silver.



Then there are silvers that are labeled with the word silver, but are not actually silver. The most common examples of this are “German Silver” or “Alpacca” which are made with copper, nickel, and zinc (no silver whatsoever!).

Now and again, unusual stamps and marks come up that even we at Canada Gold have never seen before. Nonetheless, they share the same basic principle: information. For us and our sellers, what we look for first are the stamps and marks that indicate content (gold, silver, real or fake). Have a look through your items and if you come across anything you don’t recognize, leave us a comment and we will be more than welcome to do a little bit of investigating.

sell silver coins canada

CanadaGold Show – Mintage and the Morgan Silver Dollar with John Ellis

One of our first videos using Hangouts On Air with the help of John Ellis from where we talk about rare coins – the Carson City Morgan Dollar – a topic covered in one of our earlier blog posts. We are trying to put together more videos like these where we get into the facscinating topics of gold, silver, jewelry, diamonds, coins, and other things. You can check our CanadaGold YouTube Channel:


Gold price in Canada

What is Gold Karat?

The term “karat” has been used for centuries to as a unit of gold purity. This is not the same as “carat” which is a measurement of diamond weight. Normally we see 10k, 14k, or 18k jewelry, and naturally the higher you go the more pure the gold is. But what do they really mean?

Let’s start with 24k gold, which is pure, 100%, real mccoy gold. From now on, think of every piece of gold as having a purity that ranges between 0 and 24. So, if we have a 10k piece of gold, that means 10 parts of 24 is gold, and the other 14 are other alloys. This equates to 41.67% gold and 58.33% of other alloys. Here is a chart that lists out the other purities.

gold karat

What other alloys are being used to make up the rest of your jewelry? There are an array of alloys that are typically used, such as silver, copper, nickel, zinc, or palladium. Some metals are chosen over others to alter the color. For example, “rose” gold has parts of copper to give that reddish color, and white gold is mixed with a white metal like silver, nickel, or palladium. 

How to Test Gold Value

How We Test Your Gold

One of the questions you are probably asking yourself when you’re thinking of selling old gold jewelry is “how do you test it?” All precious-metal buyers will go through similar methods to determine the purity of your jewelry, coins, bullion, etc. When it comes to testing gold, it’s not hard science, just useful equipment and a good eye.

1. Magnet Test

After inspecting an item for signs of wear or for stamps and markings, the magnet test can help pull out real gold items or fake/plated items. Solid gold as well as silver and platinum are non-magnetic. If your jewelry is magnetic it either means it’s made with magnetic metals (iron, nickel, cobalt) or it is gold plated or filled. At our stores, we use a rare earth magnet which is powerful enough to pick up on anything magnetic. Note: Even if an item does not stick to a magnet, does not mean it’s real. Some gold-plated or gold-filled items can be non-magnetic; it depends on what kind of metal is used underneath the surface. This is just a preliminary stage of testing before moving onto more certain testing methods.


      • Easy way to weed out obviously plated items


      • Cannot 100% confirm if an item is real or fake, and should be accompanied by other tests

2. Testing Acids

51MrFKWy06L An Acid Test or a Scratch Test is what you’ll see each and every time you come to our store to have gold tested. It is not a 100% accurate test, but very close. The test is straight forward and the overall goal is to figure out the gold purity.

The first step is to scratch a sample of the metal onto a testing stone like the one below. One thing to look for is the color of the scratch mark. If you have yellow gold, the mark should be yellow as well. If you see the mark change color as you are scratching, like gray or copper-red, then the item is most-likely plated and the underlying metals are showing through.


The next step is to apply a drop of your testing acid and watch it for several seconds for the reaction. Typically acids come in 10k, 14k, 18k and 22k acid strengths. The testing acids are a combination of nitric and muriatric acid and are meant to dissolve the scratch mark.

For example, if you have an item that is stamped “10k”, the 10k acid should NOT dissolve the scratch mark. In other words, if the scratch mark holds up to the testing acid karat, then it is at least that purity.

Let’s say you have an item and there isn’t a karat stamp on it. Make your scratch mark and apply the 10k acid. If it holds up, move onto the 14k, and so on, until you begin to see the mark definitively dissolve. And let’s say the mark didn’t dissolve at 14k but did at 18k. That means the piece is at least 14k, but less than 18k. To determine where it falls between 14k and 18k, it depends on how quickly and substantially the mark faded. If it faded instantly, then it’s more on the 14k side. If 50% of the scratch mark fades after ten seconds, then it’s more in the middle at 16k.



      • Great way to test unstamped pieces and small, fine items
      • Effective way to narrow down the purity
      • Fairly easy and affordable way to test gold
      • Can point out fake and plated items


      • The higher the purity you go, the trickier it becomes to narrow down the purity
      • The acid tests the surface layer of an item, thus it doesn’t test the overall purity of an item and heavily plated items can past this test

3. Density Test

The density test is a great compliment to the acid test because it can determine the exact percentage of the gold purity, and it can indicate if an item is plated or filled. Watch the video below for a quick demonstration of a density machine testing a gold bar.

First, the demonstrator locked in the weight of the bar outside of water, and then the weight of it under water. The number that is calculated (19.3) is the specific gravity, which is what we look for in the density test. Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance. In the case in the video, 19.3 is the ratio of pure (100%) gold to water (the reference substance) which is 1. In other words, solid gold has a density ratio 19.3:1 to the density of water. In the video, the demonstrator changed the mode to “karat” in which “24” came up (24k=99.99%).

The drawback to this test is that it requires the item to be completely solid. Hallow parts where air is trapped or stones and gems will skew the calculation because their densities will be factored in. This is also why the density test is great for determining plated or filled items, because the density of the underlying metal will be calculated, resulting in a low density.


      • Much more accurate than the acid test and can calculate purity down to the exact percentage
      • Because it calculates density, it measures the overall purity, not just the surface like the acid test


      • The item must be solid (not hallow or gemstones) to get an accurate result
      • Small and fine items are harder to test

4.  X-Ray Machine

The X-Ray Test or XRF Spectrometers like the one advertised in the video above is much more high tech and advantageous. The main benefit is breaking down the different alloys and percentages. It works by measuring fluorescence of the item after being exposed to a small amount of x-ray radiation. To put it simply, the radiation will cause the elements (gold and silver) in the item to emit energy (or fluoresce), and the machine picks that up and figures out how much energy of each element was exposed.

This machine is not always necessary when you come in to have jewelry tested. This is often used as a last resort or to test questionable or unusual pieces that are not testing well in either the acid test or the density machine.


      • Can read out the different alloys and their percentages of an item
      • The most accurate test


      • XRF Spectrometers only test the surface level
      • Machines are very expensive

After reading this, it should be no surprise when you come in to have your items tested. Of course, each piece is different and we test accordingly. The next question you’re probably asking is “what’s it worth?” In that case, check out our tables of gold, silver, and platinum rates and prices – What Is My Gold Worth – or call one of our convenient locations. If you have diamonds, and would like to know a little more on how their values are assessed, check out our other blog post Grading Diamonds: What You Need to Know.

Canada Coin Buyers

Where Did All The Canadian Silver Coins Go?

At one point in time it was very common to see circulated silver coins. On January 2nd, 1908 when Canada opened its first Royal Mint in Ottawa, the “first coin” (half-dollar) was a silver coin (92.5% silver/7.5% copper). From then until the late 1960s, Canada, much like everyone else, produced silver coins, with exception to the penny (bronze) and the five cent (nickel). But the 1960s marked the death of silver currency coins. It wasn’t just Canada, but most countries around the world were making nickel or copper-nickel coins.

Seeing a silver coin nowadays is a treat. They have become collectible pieces where their numismatic (collectors) value and silver value are far higher than its face value. What happened in the 1960s? Where did all the Canadian silver coins go?

The beginning of the end of Canadian silver coins can be traced as far back to World War I. The reason for this is because the silver content in coins depended on the spot price of silver. Between 1908 and 1919, Canadian silver coins were made with 92.5% silver. However, after 1919 (the end of WWI), almost all Canadian silver coins contained 80% silver.

Looking at the graph below you can see that between 1914 and 1919 the price of silver jumped from $0.50/oz to over $1/oz.


In other words, the war’s affect on silver prices influenced Canadian silver coinage. Up until 1922, the five-cent coin was originally made with silver, but was converted to nickel (hence its name) to reduce the cost to make the coins.

Although silver prices dropped in the 1930s ($0.25/oz in 1932), this did not mean that Canadian coins would revert to 92.5% silver or that the five-cent coin would once again be made with silver. After the Great Depression and World War II, silver prices would begin to climb again, marking the next stage in the death of the Canadian silver coins.

Macrotrends.org_Gold_and_Silver_Prices_100_Year_Historical_Chart (1)

The silver prices use the headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a base of January 2012

In 1968, Canadian silver coins would take another hit to their silver content, going from 80% to 50%. Once August rolled around, it became prohibitive to mint silver circulation coins, thus all circulation coins were made with nickel or copper-nickel. Overall, the rise in silver prices had some effect on limiting its use, not just for coins but also for manufactured goods. Not only was it more expensive to use silver in coins, but the demand from silver investors encouraged the metal to be allocated more toward bullion than  secondary resources.

Since 1968, the only Canadian silver coins we see are either commemorative coins or bullion coins. The bullion coin—the Canadian Silver Maples (below; left)—are worth their weight in silver, whereas the commemorative ones, like the 1976 Olympic coins (below; right) are collectibles, and are worth more than just their silver value.

 silver-maple-leaft-coinolympic coin

Although rises in silver prices killed Canadian silver circulation coins, they have also made them worth far more than their face value. For example, a 1950 twenty-five cent coin is worth roughly $2.50 today. That’s 100 times it’s face value!

Next time, we will talk more about the Canadian commemorative coins. If you have any questions, leave a comment.

Sell Silver Coins

What Makes a Coin Valuable?

What’s the difference between a 1918 Canadian 50-cent coin and a 1921 Canadian 50-cent coin? Easy answer: 3 years. Informative answer: the 1921 is far rarer (suspected that only 75 exist), and is worth 25,000 times more (estimated to be worth $249,000 USD).

Of course, that seems obvious enough. Besides rarity, there are other aspects which can determine a coin’s value. To coin collectors where hundreds and thousands of coins are out there to be acquired, the difference between one coin and another can come down to the smallest detail, and yet can differentiate their values immensely. Mintage/supply, grade/condition, toning, composition, and rare variations/errors are factors within the discipline of numismatics (study of currency) that effect the value, and that coin collectors consider when they seek out rare coins.


If you have a coin and you want to see if it’s a rare coin, checking the mintage and the number of currently available coins is your first step. Mintage is the number of produced coins. Using the economic principle of scarcity, when there is a high supply of a particular coin, it’s not worth a lot because there are plenty to go around. This is why most circulated coins or the change in your piggy-bank tends to be worth nothing more than its face value. The 1921 50-cent coin example is one coin which was in circulation but was taken out and melted down. Its drastic cut in supply made it a rare coin. However, a high demand in spite of a coin’s high supply could increase that coin’s value. This happens when a coin is part of a set or has a mint mark separate from other coins of the same type.


A coin’s grade or condition, next to rarity, is the most important factor when evaluating the worth of a coin. Like anything collectible, a mint condition and well maintained piece is more sought after, thus more valuable than a slightly damaged piece. The American Numismatic Association uses an adjectival scale to grade a coins condition. The key things to look for are a) overall wear and b) loss of design details.

  • Poor (PR)
  • Fair (FR)
  • About Good (AG)
  • Good (G)
  • Very Good (VG) – 25% original detail
  • Fine (F) – 50% original detail
  • Very Fine (VF) – 75% original detail
  • Extremely Fine (XF) – 95% original detail
  • About Uncirculated (AU) – 95-99% original detail
  • Uncirculated (Unc.) – 99% original detail
  • Mint State (MS) – 100% original detail and no signs of wear or handling


Toning is the discolouration of the coin when the metal reacts with oxygen and chemicals in the air. This obviously is a factor in grading coins, and would be considered a form of wear on the coin. But often toning can add value to a coin because it’s a natural wear, and to some collectors this is an appealing quality. The key word is “natural”. As soon as you touch it with your bare fingers, scratch at its surface, or even try to restore its original colour, the value of it drops tremendously. (Tip: Never touch the sides of rare coins. Always hold them on the edge with gloves).


A coins composition or metal content can also determine the value of a coin. Most coins are made with copper or nickel or a combination of the two metals (bimetallic coins), but higher-end specialty coins and bullion coins are made with precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum. For obvious reasons, precious metal coins are worth a lot and have guaranteed investment value. Sometimes, a coins composition adds that rarity factor. For example, during World War II, Canadian nickel was reserved for the war effort, so the five-cent nickel coin was made with tombac instead. Even though tombac is not an expensive metal, the variation in its metal composition made it a sought after coin by collectors.

Rare Variations/Errors

Rare variations and errors make coins extremely valuable just because they are unique and there are so few of them (again the principle of scarcity). Rare variations could be limited edition coins that are made to commemorate an event or person, or a difference in the mint mark or design in a particular year. Then there are extreme rare variation coins such as the Canadian 1936 “dot” penny made in the final year of King George V’s reign. A miniscule dot was placed below the date on the reverse side of the coin. Only three versions of the coin are known, and have been auctioned at around $250,000 USD.

dot penny


Errors are mistakes in the design when technical difficulties occur during the minting process. Coins that slip through this way are some of the rarest coins. The American 1937-D three-legged buffalo nickel is a famous coin because the die (imprint on the coin) was over-polished, wiping out one of the buffalo’s legs.


You might have realized that I have left out Age as a factor of value. Of course the age of a coin adds value, but it’s no guarantee that an old coin is worth a lot except its face value. The other factors above have higher priority to collectors, unless it’s an ancient coin.

Personal Preference: Collection Themes, Aesthetic Design, Historical Significance

Other reasons why a coin could be so valuable are up to the collector. Coin collections and themes play a part in determining if a coin is valuable or not. Each collector looks for little subtleties or details such as country, year, mint marks, variety or limited edition coins, subject or heritage coins, personage coins, and period coins such as coins made during an empire or a king’s reign.

Then there are collectors that are more interested in the aesthetic design than its grade or rarity. Sometimes we forget that artists are designing the coins we hold in our hands, or the commemorative coins that come out each year.

beauty coins

Of course, aesthetic design could be how a coin was worn down or toned a particular way, which makes for added uniqueness. Naturally blackened Victorian pennies, which have only the most raised surface showing the underlying copper, meaning the head is clearly presented.

Historical significance is one of the most popular reasons we collect coins. Haven’t you found an old coin—a coin older than you—and imagined where it had been up until you found it? Geoffrey Cope, a writer at, said: “Art in the form of coins is not only what we study but the emotion when we hold a piece of history.” I have a German mark from 1871, the year the German states unified into a single nation. It’s in Good (G) condition, an old coin, but millions were produced. However, it’s the historical significance that matters me, and holding a piece of history like that, the emotion I feel, is much more valuable than dollars and cents.


Sentimental Gold - Should I Keep it, or Sell It?

Sentimental Gold – Should I Keep it, or Sell It?

Just about everyone has possessions with personal or sentimental value beyond what the market might say they’re worth. When you really think about it, that’s basically how we assign value to everything; I place greater value on a cup of coffee than having a spare couple of bucks in my pocket, so I buy a coffee. The coffee shop would rather have my change than the capacity to produce one extra cup of coffee, the beauty of the free market ensues!  But what about “sentimental gold”?

Many people end up with old gold jewelry that has been inherited in some way or another, and most of it will be forgotten in a drawer somewhere. A good way to decide whether these items are worth holding on to or not is to separate them into three piles:

First Pile: These are sentimental items that have been handed down through your family for generations, or perhaps they have some very significant meaning behind them. These are items that you would never part with at any price. Keep them aside and make sure they end up somewhere safe.

Second Pile: These are items that you know have value, but you’re not quite sure how much they’re worth. They might have some sentimental value, but are likely worth a fair bit of money as well, and depending on how much you can get for them, you might consider selling them. It’s worthwhile having them evaluated so that you know what they’re worth, but don’t take the decision to sell lightly, once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

Third Pile: This is the stuff you know that you want to get rid of. It’s that ugly old damaged jewelry that’s been sitting around collecting dust. You know that it won’t be worn and it’s just taking up space. These are the items that you just might be surprised by how much they’re really worth. Old ugly gold jewelry is often of high quality and heavy, containing a great deal of gold content. If you were to sell it to a gold buyer you’d be receiving payment based on that gold value, not the way it looks.

That’s it! Bring the second and third piles into a Canada Gold Buyer location to have them evaluated, ask for the two piles to be priced out separately so that you can decide whether it’s worthwhile selling one or both. There will be no obligation to sell and the quote you receive will be based on the best market gold price in Canada from the past three days.

How To Sell Gold Jewelry in Vancouver With Peace of Mind

We’ve all seen those cash for gold commercials invading our television sets and we’ve also heard stories from our friends and family of their bad experiences when selling gold. However selling gold jewelry in Vancouver does not have to be a chore and can be a lot of fun, especially when you are going home with $100 bills caressing your pant pocket. Therefore in this blog post we at Vancouver Gold want to give you three tips to improve your experience when you sell gold in Vancouver.

1) Get to know your gold: Knowing the weight, purity and general value of your gold will decrease your chances of being taken to the cleaners by a gold buyer in Vancouver. Many gold buyers know the balance of information is in their favour and will take advantage of your lack of knowledge.

To figure out the weight, a good digital kitchen scale will probably give you the best idea, but another (less exact) option is to simply compare its weight to another item with a known weight. For example, hold a loonie in one hand and your gold in the other, do they weigh about the same? Most Loonies weigh about 7 grams (the newer ones are a little less). If it’s less than the loonie, try a quarter, they weigh about 4.5 grams. The purity of your gold jewelry is usually indicated by a hallmark, a small number usually located in an inconspicuous spot. It will likely say 10k, 14k or 18k but some European jewelry is stamped with a 417, 585 or 750, gold from Asia is usually stamped 22k, 917 or 999.

Most reputable gold buyers will post their prices per gram online listed by the purity. Our buying prices can be found here. Simply find the price for your purity of gold jewelry and multiply it by the weight and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what your gold is worth!

2) Shop Around: Many gold buyers will start off with a low offer hoping you’ll bite. Their buyers are usually paid on commission and will earn more if you accept a lower offer. Our buyers are not paid commissions and offer the highest payout up front. This is why it’s important to check prices first, be sure that you are at least being offered the rates they post online. Many gold buyers will post impossibly high prices online to lure you in, only to lowball and deduct once you are in their office assuming you will negotiate up from the lower value.

3) Check out Ratings: Most established businesses are assigned a rating by the Better Business Bureau based on the number of complaints they have received from actual customers. The BBB compares the number of complaints to the volume of business that is conducted as well as the typical complaint rates for businesses in that industry (unfortunately in the gold buying industry this rate is usually quite high). Click here to see the BBB ratings of gold buyers in the Lower Mainland. Always make sure that the gold buyer you are dealing with is listed by the BBB and is not a typical “here today, gone tomorrow” establishment.

With so many gold buyers in the Vancouver area it can be hard to find the right place to sell your gold jewelry and get the fair payout you’re looking for. However keeping the three tips above in mind when you sell gold jewelry, you can rest assured that you won’t cave to pressure sales tactics and improve your gold selling experience, leaving you happy, educated and with some extra cash in your pocket!