Korean Gold Jewelry

Gold Buyers Portland

Sell Gold Jewelry Portland

Korean Gold Chain
10 Don Gold Chain


  • Summary

  • Objective

  • Types of Korean Gold Jewelry

  • Mass Produced Export Jewelry

  • Traditional Korean Gold Jewelry

  • Weight Measurement Units

  • Determining Fineness – How Many Karats

  • Conclusion

  • Example



Traditional Korean gold jewelry is most often well over 22K fine gold. Commonly this jewelry actually very close to 24K. However, the hallmarks specifying the fineness are hard to identify even for Koreans.



I am writing this article because this morning I bought a very nice Korean origin gold chain. The objective of this article is to present my findings, from the point of view a gold buyer, my insights on Korean gold jewelry.


Types of Korean Gold Jewelry

First of all, it is very important to distinguish traditional Korean gold jewelry from mass produced gold jewelry meant for export. These two very different type of gold jewelry, and are aimed at entirely different markets.


Mass Produced Export Korean Gold Jewelry

Korean mass produced gold jewelry meant for export tends to be 10K and 14K if solid gold. Most often however, this type of gold jewelry is gold plated over ferrous material. Mass produced Korean gold jewelry tends to be inexpensively made, have simulated stones, lots of soldering, and most of it machine made. These items, even when solid, because of the way they are made, are of much lower actual content than what it is stamped. This is because of the way they are manufactured, massive amounts of gold solder is needed. Thus, even if the material originally started with is for example 14K, the actual fineness is close to 12K. This the type of jewelry you often see in mall stores. Nothing is wrong with it. It is just that as far as gold jewelry goes, it is of low quality.


Traditional Korean Gold Jewelry

Like most Asian gold items, traditional Korean gold jewelry tends to be of very high fineness. I have bought plenty of Korean gold items through the years. Of this, the majority are over 22K (91.6 pure) in fineness. Most of however this gold items are of even higher fineness. Some are stamped .999, and after melting, the actual purity is close to the stamped amount too.  The issue, as with a lot of Asian jewelry, is how to identify the purity.


Korean Gold Fineness Hallmarks

One thing all Asian gold jewelry has in common, is that there is not a uniform standard. On top of that, even, for example Koreans or Thais, often can’t actually read and understand the script used for hallmarking the pieces. Chances are, if not in the jewelry business, even reading the receipts for their gold, in their own language, is hard for Korean and Thais. Thus, it is hard to ascertain traditional Korean jewelry just based on the gold pieces’ hallmarks. Therefore, it is hard to grade such jewelry based just on the hallmark or stamp.
Most Korean gold I purchased has been plain gold rings and chains. I only remember of one instance in which precious stones were present in Korean gold jewelry. That piece was 18K. That piece had enameled areas and a 1 Carat diamond.


Korean Gold Weight Measurement Units

The traditional Korean gold weight measurement unit is the “don”. The “don” gold weight unit of measurement is the equivalent of 3.75 grams. I, and most US gold dealers either, can’t understand the Korean script symbol for a don. It is not that there is something wrong with the “don” as a gold weight unit of measurement, it is just that it is not universal, just a Korean standard. One of the things that prompted me to write this article is that, today, as mentioned above, bought a 10 don gold chain from a Korean couple. The wife did not understand the symbol. The husband understood the symbol, but had to confirm it. However, they both understand the gram. So we completed the deal in grams.



Of the I can say with certainty, that most traditional Korean gold jewelry is 22K or better. The items with stones, because of the structural need to keep the stones attached, are 18K or very close. The simple, gold only type of jewelry, such as rings and chains, are most often over 22K. Some of them are close to 24K. If the item is not stamped with western hallmarks, such s .999 for 24K, it is hard to confirm the gold fineness, other than the fact that it is super high. To summarize, traditional Korean gold jewelry is most often over 22K, very close to 24K, but unless western script is used for hallmarking, it is hard, even for Koreans, to know the exact fineness of the gold jewel.


The image below is a good traditional Korean gold example. The total mass of the chain, in grams is 38.6. My scale, despite been made in Korea, does not give the weigh in dons. The clasp is 18K, and by experience, I know if weighs around 1 gram. The chain was sold in a Korea as a “10 don chain”. 10 dons 37.5 grams. So it all matches. 37.5 grams of over 22K gold chain plus around 1 gram of 18K gold clasp equals 38.6 grams

24K Korean Gold Chain
24K Korean Gold Chain