Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth - and it’s been a staple of fine jewelry for thousands of years.
But what exactly is gold – and how is it used to describe gold jewelry?
Gold is the most soft and malleable of all the precious metals that a jeweler could work with. Gold jewelry may mixed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel and even palladium – these alloys work to increase the item’s overall strength and durability. Gold purity is measured in karats. The purest gold is referred to as 24-karat gold.
Additionally, gold is measured in 24 parts, which can help the consumer determine just how much gold is present in their jewelry. Following this unit of measurement, 18-karat gold is comprised of 18 parts gold and six parts other metals. This means that the piece of jewelry is 75% gold.
White gold is comprised percentage of gold mixed with white metals like palladium, silver, zinc and nickel. This combination gives white gold its durability and strength. White gold is measured in 24 parts and karats.
Yellow gold is a gold alloy that consists of combining gold, copper and silver. This precious metal is always measured in karats. Yellow gold is the only type of gold that can be 24-karats, as white gold and rose gold require other metals in order to achieve their unique colors. A piece of yellow gold jewelry that is considered to be 24-karats means that it is 100% pure gold.
What is Rose Gold?
Rose gold is a very popular alloy comprised of traditional yellow gold and copper, which lends a beautiful pinkish color to the metal. Rose gold can also be known as “red gold”; however, this term is misleading, as rose gold and red gold have different gold-and-copper combinations.
What is Platinum?
Platinum is one of the few precious metals that can be made into jewelry with a majority of its natural form; in fact, most platinum jewelry is made up of 95% and 90% platinum. Unlike white gold and traditional yellow gold, platinum is a strong and durable metal, which means it doesn’t need to be mixed with other alloys to strengthen it. Additionally, platinum jewelry doesn’t need to be plated with rhodium materials to give it its beautiful silver appearance. Platinum is an extremely difficult metal for jewelers to work with and will feel much denser on the finger. For these reasons, platinum is much more expensive than yellow gold or white gold jewelry. It is hypoallergenic, which means that consumers with nickel allergies won’t have to worry about an allergic reaction.
What is Palladium?
Palladium is the latest precious metal trend to hit the jewelry industry. Similar to platinum, palladium is a precious metal that has almost 95% purity; therefore, the majority of palladium jewelry will be almost entirely comprised of this precious metal. Like platinum, palladium is incredibly dense and strong, so it doesn’t need rhodium plating. This makes it a great option for consumers who want to capture the look and feel of platinum jewelry.
18k vs. 14k gold
You know that 18karat gold is more valuable than 14karat gold – but do you know why that is? It’s simple: 18karat gold has a higher gold-to-metal ratio than 14karat gold. Because gold is such a ductile and flexible metal, jewelers have to add certain metallic alloys in order to strengthen the gold jewelry and make it more durable. While 18karat gold is less durable than 14karat gold, it’s for good reason: 18karat gold is made of 75 percent of yellow gold, while 14karat gold only has 58 percent. The remaining amount is made up of metallic alloys such as copper and nickel. Only 24karat gold is made of 100% pure yellow gold.
|Richer in color
Higher percentage of fine gold
25% more expensive
75 percent of gold
|58 percent of gold
Contains a high percentage of alloy.
What's the difference between Karat and Carat?
Carat: A unit of measurement by which a diamond is weighed.
Karat: The measurement that shows the purity of the gold.
Precious Metals Measurement Conversion Chart
24 grains (gr) = 1 pennyweight (dtw.) = 1.5552 grams
20 pennyweights = 1 ounce (oz t.) = 31.1035 grams
12 ounces (troy) (t.) = 1 pound (lb t.) = 373.2417 grams
1 ounce (troy) (t.) = 1.09714 ounces
1 pound (troy) (t.) = 0.82286 pounds
The Metal Convert
Pennyweights to grams = pennyweights x 1.5552 = grams
Ounces (t.) to grams. = ounces (t.) x 31.1035 = grams
Grams to pennyweights = grams x 0.6430 = pennyweights
Grams to ounces (t.) = grams x 0.0322 = ounces (t.)
Legal standard of karat in:
USA: not less than 10K
Canada: not less than 9K
Mexico: not less than 8K