What Does the Marking “14k HGE” Mean on a Ring?

Markings on a ring that say “14k HGE” mean that the ring has 14-karat gold in “heavy gold electroplate,” which means that the gold is not solid gold but is a coating for another metal. Most of the time, this gold layer is between 7 and 100 millionths of an inch thick. Electronic tests can be used to find out how pure gold is that is not marked with HGE.

Gold electroplate is usually 10 millionths of an inch thick, and it wears off easily over time. Once the base metal is seen, this kind of jewellery looks old. Hannon Jewelers says that heavy gold electroplate on top of base metal can be no thicker than 100 millionths of an inch.

MintProducts says that gold-plated rings are not worth much to businesses that buy scrap. Rings that say “gold plated” or “gold filled” are the same as rings that are electroplated with heavy gold.

In the process of electroplating, metals are soaked in a solution of the metal that covers the object. When an electric current flows through the core metal, the metal around it falls out of solution and gathers around the metal that has been electrolyzed. The gold covering gets thicker the longer the core metal stays in the bath of gold ions.

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