Why should you mind gold’s karat when buying gold jewelry?
Gold’s popularity is everlasting. Its attractive look and its malleability has made it a popular material for jewelry pieces with sizes and shapes that range from gold strands and think gold sheet to bulky necklaces and bracelets.
Gold is available in various levels of purity. The purer it is, the more resistant it is to staining or tarnishing. If even the purest gold still stains the skin, the problem may come from the skin and not from the gold. The purity level of gold is identified universally using unit of karat (K). Karat number expresses the ratio of gold to base metal in an alloy. The higher its number is, the purer the gold is. The highest karat number for gold is 24K, which signifies the purest gold. Other common karat numbers are 18K, 14K and 10K. Those numbers can be described as follows.
- 24K gold is pure gold with 24/24 gold and 0/24 base metal.
- 18K gold is gold alloy with 18/24 gold and 6/24 base metal. The alloy therefore consists of 75% gold.
- 14K gold is gold alloy with 14/24 gold and 10/24 base metal. The alloy therefore consists of 58.3% gold.
- 12K gold is gold alloy with 12/24 gold and 12/24 base metal. The alloy therefore consists of 50% gold.
- 10K gold is gold alloy with 10/24 gold and 14/24 base metal. The alloy therefore consists of 41.7% gold.
A metal is called gold in the United States if its minimum karat number is 10.
In Europe, the identification of gold’s purity level uses number indicating gold percentage in the alloy.
- 18K gold in the US is therefore equivalent to 750 gold in Europe to signify its 75% gold content.
- 14K gold in the US is therefore equivalent to 585 gold in Europe to signify its 58.5% gold content.
- 12K gold in the US is therefore equivalent to 417 gold in Europe to signify its 41.7% gold content.
24K gold jewelry is considered more suitable as collectible item instead of wearable item because of its softness. A more solid gold, with lower karat but cheaper cost and better wearability, is more suitable for daily wear. The most popular solid gold for jewelry is 18K and 22K gold.
Jewelry is also categorized as branded item. This is the reason why the identity of the designer also affects its value.