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Gold. The word evokes wealth, power and riches.  All can possess gold, and many of us do however, the question becomes how savvy are we when buying gold jewelry?  Hopefully today’s blog will clear up some of the mysterious aspects that surround this amazing metal.  Remember, gold has been around for centuries.  It has been used in the making of coins, decorating art, and adorning people in jewelry.  It is to this last topic that we turn our focus.  What questions should we be asking when buying gold jewelry?

What is a Karat of Gold?

When looking at gold we need to think in terms of karats.  By itself, pure gold is soft, too soft to be used in commercial uses like jewelry.  Therefore gold must be alloyed with other metals to achieve a level of hardness desirable in jewelry making.  Typical alloys for gold will be silver, copper, nickel, palladium, or zinc.  The proportional amount of gold in an alloy is called the karat.  In other words karat signifies the proportion of gold used with another alloy. For example, 24 karat gold (24K) is 99.9% gold.

What Karat Gold Should I Buy?

Because 24K is too soft for jewelry making so other metals are added to gold to make it durable for jewelry purposes.  22K is 22 parts gold and 2 parts of another metal.   22K could and has been used in making jewelry, but it is not common in the United States.  18K or gold that has 75% gold content 25% alloy is often used in jewelry.  18K has a marvelous balance of strength, beauty, and purity. However best known of all is  14K gold.  14K is 58% pure and extremely stable in jewelry making.   It is the go-to choice for many jewelers .  Finally, there is 10K which has 41.7% purity.  It can be used in jewelry making but also seen in dental work.

What should you remember about karats?  The higher the karat the purer it is, and the more money you will spend.  As to strength, the lower karats will be stronger making them easier to tarnish and not quite as yellow in color.  The higher the karat is softer, but will be more resistant to tarnishing.  Also higher karat does appear more yellow in color.  Making sense yet?

What are the Types of Gold?

We have all heard of yellow gold but there is also white gold and rose gold.  How do you distinguish between them?  The answer lies in the listing of alloys.  Typical alloys for gold are silver, copper, nickel, palladium, and zinc. Yellow gold is mixed with a combination of silver, copper, and zinc.  White gold is commonly mixed with nickel, palladium and silver.   Rose gold is mixed with copper to bring out the beautiful reddish color.

What is Gold Fill?

Gold Fill (GF) is an option that many custom jewelers will use as opposed to those creating in design houses.  Gold Fill refers to a material, usually copper, onto which a layer of gold has been bonded or fused.  Gold Fill comes in 10K, 12K, or 14k grades.  It is an excellent choice when choosing a piece of jewelry.  It is a fraction of the cost of gold but has the strength of gold.  The best advice when choosing a piece of gold filled jewelry is to ask the creator  what karat weight is being used.

What is Gold Plate?

Gold plate, short for gold electroplate.  Gold plate is where a thin layer of gold is electroplated over a base metal, usually brass.  It is then used in making jewelry.  Like silver plated, gold plate will, over time, wear off leaving the base metal exposed.  This is the least desirable when choosing a piece of jewelry.

To sum it up. Gold is beautiful but does come with a price.  The higher the purity, the higher the cost.  When in doubt, look for a stamp on the inside of the item that you are looking at purchasing.  And always, ask the jeweler what karat weight they have used when no stamp can be seen.  Here at Elementas Jewelry, we strive to only use 14 K Gold Fill or Gold, your assurance when buying gold jewelry from us. That is a promise we intend on keep to our customers.

If you are thinking of buying gold jewelry take a look at our handmade pieces here >