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The fineness is the mass fraction of the most valuable precious metal in a piece of jewelry , a coin or any other metallic object.


The fineness is given in per mille , i.e. in a thousand parts of the total weight. Before 1888, other dimensions such as plumb bob or carat were in use. The indication of the fineness can be stamped on jewelry and equipment with a fineness stamp . It is optional. An engraving or an indication of the fineness in the surface made by laser is not permitted. Under German law, jewelry can be produced and sold in any fineness. A piece of jewelry made of 825 or 635 gold would also be legally flawless.

When making jewelry, goldsmiths usually use fineness between 585 and 999. In industrial jewelry production, fineness between 333 and 750 is primarily used. Additions such as silver , copper , iridium , tungsten , palladium and zinc create new materials - some of which have chemical and physical properties that differ considerably from the actual precious metals. They differ in hardness, color and in their behavior in contact with acids and alkalis .

For precious metals, which are used in the production of electronic components, vehicle catalytic converters or in the production of films, the fineness is usually not specified.

For many precious metals, 999.9 ‰ denotes the highest purity still available in normal trade. Even higher degrees of purity than 999.99 ‰ can only be produced with enormous effort. As a rule, they are only required for chemical and physical purposes. In international trade, for example, gold is traded with a fineness of 995 ‰, so-called “good delivery bars” weighing 12.44 kg.


Until 1887, the fineness of silver in the German Empire was given in solder . As with gold, the starting point was the Cologne mark (= 233.885 grams). In the case of silver, it was divided into 16 parts (plumb bobs). 1 lot = 18 grän = 1/16 mark. The fineness expressed in solder and green was called solderiness . The conversion into the fineness specification prescribed since 1888 results from the equation: 16 lot = 1000/1000 parts.

On January 1, 1888, the "Law on the Fineness of Gold and Silver Goods" of July 16, 1884 came into force in the German Empire. Gold was now uniformly marked with the sign of the sun and silver with the sign of the crescent moon. In addition there was the stamping with the imperial crown and the stamp of the manufacturer.

The fineness was now always given in parts of the thousand. A ring with the fineness rating 585 consisted of 585 thousand parts of gold. The law on the fineness of gold and silver goods is still in force today with some modifications. It was last amended by Article 294 of the ordinance of August 31, 2015 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1474 ).

In Switzerland, the first federal law "on the control and guarantee of the fineness of gold and silver goods" was passed in 1882 and updated in 1933 to protect Swiss industry from unfair competition and consumers from fraud. There are several precious metal control offices in Switzerland that are spread across the country. The Swiss Precious Metals Act is one of the strictest in the world.

Current situation

On November 15, 1972 in Vienna, an internationally known as "Hallmarking Convention" "Convention on the control and marking of precious metal articles" completed in the mutual recognition of punches was regulated and other markings for the precious metal content of an item. In it, the signatory states agreed on certain fineness levels of the various precious metals and their markings. A different form of the hallmark was agreed for each precious metal, so that symbols or letters ( Pt for platinum , Pd for palladium ) gradually disappear from the market.

Member states of this convention are currently (as of October 28, 2015):

As of August 6, 2013, the following states were officially registered as observers of the Convention:

The fineness of the various precious metals contained in the Convention is listed below. Since the fineness level 333 did not become part of the Convention, objects of this fineness may not be offered as “gold”, but only as “gold-plated goods” in these countries. This led to a virtually complete disappearance from the market there. Swiss customs, for example, only allow the import of 14-carat (585) or higher gold.


Fineness according to the Vienna Convention


  • Gold 999 (fine gold, 24 carat , 96 solotnik )
  • Gold 916 2/3 ( Crown gold , 22 carat)
  • Gold 750 (18 carat)
  • Gold 585 (14 carat)
  • Gold 375 (9 carat) (may not be offered in Switzerland as "gold", but only as "guarantee metal")



  • Platinum 999
  • Platinum 950
  • Platinum 900
  • Platinum 850


  • Palladium 999
  • Palladium 950
  • Palladium 500

Other fineness levels commonly used in jewelry


  • Gold 875 (21 carat)
  • Gold 333 (8 carat)


Cufflinks with 835 stamp
  • Silver 970 ( enamel silver )
  • Silver 937.5 (15 Lot)
  • Silver 935
  • Silver 900
  • Silver 875 (14 Lot, 84 Solotnik)
  • Silver 835
  • Silver 812.5 (13 Lot)
  • Silver 750 (12 Lot)
  • Silver 625
  • Silver 500


  • Platinum 950
  • Platinum 800
  • 750 platinum
  • Platinum 585

For coins and medals

For coins of fineness also means fineness , Fine or grain . The fineness of a coin or medal corresponds to the ratio of the fine weight , i.e. the mass of the precious metal content, to the rough weight or shot .

The German 5, 10 and 20 mark gold coins (golden five mark pieces only 1877 and 1878) ( Kurant coins ) from 1871 to 1915 had a purity of 900/1000, as did the silver dividing coins from 20 Pf to 5 M. The ducats even a fineness of 986/1000. But here too there are many deviations depending on the century and country.

For example, a Friedrich d'or had a fineness of 906/1000 between 1713 and 1770, but only 638/1000 between 1755 and 1757 and 902/1000 from 1770. With a fineness of 916.67 / 1000 (22 carats) Great Britain, Portugal, Russia and Turkey minted gold coins.

In the case of silver, the range of fineness is even wider, it usually starts at 500/1000 and ends at 945/1000. Many silver German divisional coins before the 20th century often had a fineness that was sometimes well below 500/1000. Such coins were called billon coins . For example, silver coins from the Weimar Republic had 500 parts of pure silver out of a total of 1000 parts.

Only the modern medals and the so-called bullion coins (investment coins) are minted in almost pure precious metal (999/1000) or (999.9 / 1000).


The exact fineness of precious metals can only be determined in the laboratory. In everyday life, goldsmiths, coin collectors etc. use a sample to determine the approximate fineness .


  • Helmut Kahnt, Bernd Knorr: Old measures, coins and weights. A lexicon. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1986, licensed edition Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-411-02148-9 , p. 383.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ London Bullion Market Association: LBMA Specifications for Good Delivery Bars . Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  2. a b page no longer available , search in web archives: Information from the Federal Customs Administration (EZV) , accessed on July 13, 2016.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  3. ↑ List of members according to the Convention Office , accessed on July 13, 2016.
  4. Observer list according to the Convention Bureau , accessed on July 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Metals Used in Coins and Medals - Crown Gold . In: Tony Clayton's Coins of the UK . Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  6. Handelsblatt article: The main thing is that it shines from March 6, 2013 , accessed on July 13, 2016.
  7. Material archive: fine silver . Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  8. ↑ Gold ducats ( Memento of the original from January 23, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved March 5, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Gold coin - Britannia . Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  10. ^ Coin catalog Portugal . In: Colnect . Retrieved March 5, 2013.