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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Gold-filled jewellery


Hi Thomas, I have recently acquired a string of cut-glass (or crystal) beads that are hand-knotted and look old. However, they have a hallmark on the jump-ring that reads 1/20 14kt GF. I now know what this means. What I don't know is:

How old are these likely to be? They look 30s, but the mark seems to be a US thing. I've certainly never seen one in the UK before, and I've been collecting jewellery for 30 years or more. When did this mark first get used in the US? And I take it these are probably American beads, or was the hallmark in use elsewhere in the world? Hope you can help.

Back with one comment:  Dear Chancery, it is quite possible the clasp was changed and no restringing was done. This depends on how the clasp is fastened to the cord. If directly looped around the jump ring, it is unlikely the jump ring has been changed but is possible. If the cord ends have "bead tips" which are metal "cups" with the cord through the center then a loop of metal from the side which goes through the jump ring then is bent back down into the metal cup, if that is the fastener then changing the clasp is quite easy. I am surprised the clasp is so shiny and neat and the cord shows some age.  Regardless, enjoy this find.    Thomas.

Hi, Chancery,

The link is thrown in for your information should you have any curiosity about the hallmarking system in the UK. The like is to a specific pdf document.  Otherwise, for other sorts of information, use only the first part or the link

General link:

The gold filled mark as you described has been around for many years and at least back into the late 1930's and early '40's in the USA.  Prior to that time the term overlay was often used as in watch cases, etc. In looking at old regulations, I have not been able to determine just when this mark with a fraction and gold quality was first legal. However, most old gold filled was not of the 14kt variety but of 12kt.  This is not to say the mark is not old but I have seen the 14kt in gold filled generally in much more recent years.  I will agree that this is essentially a mark connected with the USA.

Chancery, please keep in mind, the mark on the ring is NOT important and this is why: Beads are placed on new cord when the old cord becomes worn or dirty. Quite often when a strand of beads is restrung, the clasp is changed or if worn the jump ring may be changed. There is no way to be certain the clasp parts date from the period when the beads were first sold.

Cut class beads generally are superior in appearance to molded glass and old ones may show some slight chipping on edges.  There might be a slight iridescence to the glass surface in beads closer to antiques( 100 years + old).

Considering the clasp may not be a permanent part of the strand over the lifetime of the beads, you will likely need to view vintage and antique cut glass beads for comparison. Perhaps a seller of antique jewels such as this strand will be willing to voice an opinion.

I know this answer is not conclusive and honestly cannot be. However, I do hope the information is beneficial.  

God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.  

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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