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Understanding the Carats of Gold Jewellery - What is 15ct Gold Jewellery?
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Understanding the Carats of Gold Jewellery - What is 15ct Gold Jewellery?

Understanding the Carats of Gold Jewellery - What is 15ct Gold Jewellery?

Perhaps one of our favourite types of antique jewellery, nothing brings a bigger smile on our face than sourcing a highly coveted piece of 15ct Gold. But whilst this purity is well-known amongst antique collectors and jewellery enthusiasts alike, we always get asked by new customers - what is 15ct Gold jewellery? 

From hallmarks to styles, there are a myriad of ways to discover whether your Gold is old! But, what not many people know is that certain purities of Gold can also be used to date antique jewellery - especially 15ct Gold.

So, what is 15ct Gold?

15ct Gold is a type of antique Gold jewellery with 62.5% of solid pure Gold, with the other 37.5% containing alloys. This style of Gold is renowned for its buttery marigold allure and it’s high carat Gold look and feel. However, it is more resilient and harder than 18ct Gold or 22ct Gold and of course contains more pure Gold than 9ct Gold. Due to this, 15ct Gold was one of the most popular precious metals for Victorian & Edwardian jewellery. 15ct Gold bracelets, rings, pendants and chains were adored and adorned everyday - adding a subtle flash of antique Gold against a frilled high neck Victorian blouse or dreamy Edwardian lace.

What is the difference between 15ct Gold, 14ct Gold, 12ct Gold and 9ct Gold? 

Today, the standard jewellery Gold carats are 18ct Gold, 14ct Gold and 9ct Gold. So, what is the difference between 15ct Gold and 14ct Gold? Technically, there is only just 4.2% difference between 14ct Gold (58.3% of pure Gold) and 15ct Gold, and whilst this is barely discernible in the Gold’s wearability, Gold connoisseurs may be able to tell the difference in colour. According to experts, 15ct Gold is known for its warmer shades, whereas 14ct Gold literally pales in comparison, with a lighter almost greener colour of Gold.

12ct Gold, like 15ct Gold, is a type of Gold that is no longer in use yet it is even more uncommon than 15ct Gold. 12ct Gold is 50% of pure Gold, and 9ct Gold has 37.5% of pure Gold. 

Why Gold is measured in Carat?

The term "carat" when measuring gold actually originates from the carob seed, specifically from the carob tree's pods. These seeds were historically used as counterweights on balance scales in the Middle East. Due to their fairly consistent weight, they became a useful reference for measuring the weight of gemstones and eventually gold.

‘Carat’ when referring to Gold is the Purity of Gold alloyed with other Metals, which works on a scale. 24 carat Gold is pure Gold mixed with no other alloys and due to this is extremely malleable. While on the other end 9 carat Gold has 37.5% Gold and is then mixed with other Metals. This makes it harder and more durable.

Yellow Gold jewellery is still the most popular colour, but today and historically Gold is available in a diverse palette. During the process of alloy mixing other Metals with pure 24 carat Gold it can vary the end colour, which is why we have rose Gold and even green Gold.

What is better quality - 9ct Gold or 15ct Gold? 

If you want a classic piece of solid Gold jewellery that will wholeheartedly survive any accidental knock or drop, we would always recommend 9ct Gold - just for ease and security. However, if you are looking for a piece of high carat jewellery like 18ct Gold, but you are a little clumsy at times (no judgement - I know I can be) and you worry about damaging your favourite jewels this is where 15ct Gold is one of the safest options.

Plus, an added benefit is that unlike new 9ct Gold, you know that with antique 15ct Gold you are getting a worthy investment and a truly a piece of sustainable Gold!

A Little History of 15ct Gold

So, when was 15ct Gold first discovered and produced, in what era was 15ct Gold used and why did they stop using 15ct Gold as a precious metal?

15ct Gold was a standardised purity of Gold recognised in and around the British commonwealth from 1850 onwards. Despite it being standardised in the mid-19th century , 15ct Gold was actually in use before that in the Georgian era (1714-1837). However, it is rare to find Georgian 15ct Gold, which is why this Georgian 15ct Gold split ring is the perfect opportunity for collectors alike.

But, after the purity was standardised it was soon shaped, crafted and welded into gorgeous designs in the Victorian era (1837-1901) and in the Edwardian Era (1901-1909). Even some early Art Deco pieces are crafted from 15ct Gold! The supple nature of this Gold allowed it to be made into a variety of beautiful things, allowing the jeweller to experiment with his craftsmanship. From decadent openwork Edwardian pendants to solid Victorian albert chains, 15ct Gold was a versatile purity that promised strength, durability and flexibility too. For Gold that was so popular, it would have been surprising for it to fall out of use. But, it did exactly that!

The Art Deco period saw a variety of fabulous unforeseen styles of jewellery cause much of the older antiquey styles to fall out of vogue. The preference for metals like White Gold and Platinum saw 15ct Yellow Gold to be rarely used and the dominance of the American jewellery scene, as well as stratospheric incline of America as a major global power after the first world war (to the detriment of the British commonwealth), meant that everyone wanted the “American way” of doing things - namely 14ct Gold or as known in America 14K.

In 1932, a reformation of the jewellery and metalworking industry saw a change within standardised jewellery hallmarking and Gold purity creating the same purities that we know, recognise and can shop with today - 9ct Gold, 14ct Gold, 18ct Gold and 22ct Gold. 15ct Gold was no more.

Of course, if you want to buy yourself a piece of antique Gold, then finding a piece that is solid 15ct Gold is the best bet.

15ct Gold Hallmarks

English 15ct Gold hallmarks share the same identifiers as antique 9ct Gold and 18ct Gold hallmarks. In most cases, this will look like a “15” and a “625” next to each other with the assay office and date letter. However, due to the unregulated nature of antique hallmarks, you could easily find a simple “15CT” stamp on rings, pendants, lockets and chains.

Of course, not all antiques are hallmarked! Yes, this will be surprising to many burgeoning antique collectors, but the way that jewellery was created and sold 200 years ago is very different to today. Simply put, they didn’t have the same regulations in trade and in retail that they do now - which was why many jewellers didn’t have their pieces hallmarked.

So, if you want to find out if your piece of jewellery is 15ct Gold, but it isn’t hallmarked, we highly recommend finding a reputable jeweller who can get the metal tested for you. Metal testing essentially can find out whether the Gold is solid Gold, cased or plated, and if it is solid Gold what purity or carat the Gold is. This special type of testing equipment is what we use here at Lillicoco HQ to ensure that you are getting the real deal!

Types of 15ct Gold Jewellery

You can find many different types of 15ct Gold jewellery on the market - from 15ct Gold rings to 15ct Gold charms and chains! 

15ct Gold Chains

There is nothing more versatile than an antique Gold chain, and if you are wanting to start your own antique collection, a chain is a great place to start. An antique Gold chain is worth its weight in Gold and can easily compliment the patina and colour of an antique Gold pendant. From 15ct Gold belcher chains to glorious solid Gold Albert chains, if you fancy adding a 15ct Gold chain to your collection then you can enjoy a wealth of gorgeous historical jewellery at your disposal. 

15ct Gold Pendants

The durability and softness of 15ct Gold lends itself to a myriad of beautiful creations. However, from our experience, it is rare to find a hallmarked 15ct Gold pendant - their beauty and history is just hiding in plain sight! We have a variety of gorgeous 15ct Gold lockets, charms and pendants to choose from. Plus, what better way to carry around a little piece of history with you than a solid 15ct Gold pendant? 

15ct Gold Rings

With a buttery high-carat allure that will charm anyone, a 15ct Gold ring is a great investment for a ring to last you a lifetime. With similar strength to a 14ct Gold ring, you can wear these rings from morning until night without a care in the world. Plus, in actual fact, a 15ct Gold ring is actually an eco-friendly ring choice too! Due to the fact that 15ct Gold is antique, it was crafted almost a century ago so it’s not new earth-mined Gold! And, lest we forget 15ct Gold will soon be antique in just 10 years time - its truly the perfect opportunity to treat yourself! 

Investing in 15ct gold jewellery with Lillicoco

With the standard of 15ct Gold stopped in 1932, antique pieces crafted in 15ct Gold are becoming even more desirable due to their rarity. So not only does 15ct Gold allow you to have a high carat Gold piece of jewellery with more durability, it is also a highly desirable collectors piece. 

Here at Lillicoco quality is key, so with our extensive knowledge we buy only the finest 15ct Gold jewellery. We in-house test to confirm its fineness and look for key signs of its authenticity, such as antique hallmarks. It is important to us that you buy only the best, so we are always here if you have any questions. 

If you would like to see more exquisite antique 15ct Gold jewellery, click below to browse our collection!

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