Diamond Guide (The 4Cs)
Blue Topaz Guide
Karat Gold Jewelry
Gold Filled/Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold Vermeil/Gold Wash Jewelry
Titanium Jewelry Guide
Gold Jewelry Guide
What is 10k, 14k, 18k Gold Jewelry?
Most people already know that
the ‘k’ in the
gold designation stands for karat. The
karat number indicates the "purity" (the amount of pure gold) in a
piece of gold jewelry. The
meanwhile, is used to denote
weight of gemstones.
Pure gold (24k) is generally considered to be much too soft for use in jewelry manufacturing. Therefore, in order to strengthen the gold and make it more suitable for jewelry manufacturing, 24k gold is alloyed with different metals to increase its strength. The type of metal alloyed with pure gold will also determine the shade of the resultant gold jewelry. Thus we find shades of rose gold and green gold, which are created by alloying pure gold with copper and silver, respectively. White gold is made with an alloy of pure gold with palladium.
What is 18k gold?
18k gold is three-quarters pure gold. The European designation for 18k gold is 750. Though more costly as well as more valuable than 14k gold, 18k gold jewelry is also softer and therefore a bit more prone to dings, dents and scratching through everyday wear. On the plus side, 18k gold can be a blessing for those who have metal allergies, thanks to its high gold content and correspondingly smaller percentage of other metals.
What is 14k gold?
14k gold is 58.3% pure gold. The European designation for 14k gold is 585. 14k gold is the grade of gold most often used in jewelry design and manufacturing. The percentage of gold content in 14k gold jewelry is a nice middle ground between 18k and 10k and the percentage of alloy with another, stronger metal makes it a practical choice for jewelry (especially frequently-worn pieces such as wedding rings) over that of 18k gold jewelry, which has a high enough percentage of pure gold to be more susceptible to dings, bending and marring over its 14k counterpart.
What is 12k gold?
12k gold is 50% pure gold. The European designation for 12k gold is 500.
What is 10k gold?
10k gold is 41.7% pure gold. The European designation for 10k gold is 417. It is a requirement in the United States that any gold jewelry marked or sold as “gold jewelry” MUST be 10k or greater.
What is Solid Gold: What Does 'Solid Gold' Mean?
The term solid gold can legally be used to reference any piece of gold jewelry with a purity level of 10k or greater, provided it is not made with hollow construction (hence, it is “solid” gold).
So you’ve learned that in order to be labeled gold jewelry, a piece of jewelry must be 10k or greater, and to be represented as solid gold, a piece of jewelry must be 10k or greater and not use hollow construction.
Oftentimes you can find advertisements for solid gold jewelry. To the uninformed consumer, this might conjure up visions of 18k or even 24k gold jewelry, which is not the case. Your solid gold chain can, in fact, be only 10k gold. Which is fine, as long as you’re a savvy consumer and understand what you’re buying. Be sure to check out the gold content of any piece of solid gold jewelry you are considering as a purchase, as the term solid gold only ensures that the piece is at least 10k gold and not hollow construction. Its gold content may be greater or it may not.When shopping for gold jewelry, keep in mind there is nothing cheap or less-than-ideal about buying gold jewelry that is well constructed, well designed and has a gold content of 12k or 10k gold. You know it will be durable. And the percentage of gold (either 50% or 41.7%) is within the alloy – that is to say, the gold is distributed throughout the metal alloy mix, so put aside any concerns you may have about “wearing off” the gold in your 12k or 10k gold jewelry. It isn’t going to happen, and there are too many pieces of beautiful 10k and 12k gold jewelry out there to just write them off out of hand without serious consideration.