What does karat gold mean?

The value of gold jewellery is not only determined by the metric scale. In jewellery descriptions, you will often find an indication that the jewellery is made from gold of a certain Karat. Karat is the term used in the UK and the USA to refer to the grade of gold and other precious metals.

What does karat gold mean?

Types of gold alloys

The peculiarity of gold, which is so often used by jewellers, is that it can take on different colours and shades depending on the ingredients with which it is mixed in the alloy.
And its other peculiarity is that it is very soft and impractical to wear. That’s why different components are added to gold when making jewellery.

  • Yellow Gold

This colour will be strongest in pieces where the presence of impurities is minimal. The higher the carat of the piece, the more pronounced the yellow colour will be, as a rule, and with the rarest of exceptions. Accordingly, the price per 1 gram of such jewellery will be higher than that of gold made of non-ferrous metals. However, as mentioned above, due to their relative softness they will be less practical to wear and less durable. For example, high-calibre wedding bands tend to wear down and thin if worn continuously throughout a woman’s life.

  • White Gold

The most common type of this gold alloy, which may be called classic or standard, is 58.5% gold, 21% copper, 7.84% zinc, and 12.73% nickel. Nickel often causes allergies and is therefore sometimes substituted with manganese or palladium or even platinum. A delicate layer of rhodium is often also deposited on the parts to increase their lustre and wearability. This makes the surface layer more resistant and prevents scratches; however, the items are discouraged from being sold because the rhodium must be stripped off before the meltdown, which is a labour-intensive process.

The properties of different gold

Yellow and white gold are considered the most common. But today, more and more shades of this precious metal are used in the jewellery industry. Other metals are added to gold to change its colour and give it other qualities, strength, and durability. Let us take a look at the properties of all gold grades:

  • 375 grade (9K). It is an alloy that contains 37.5% gold and the bulk of the gold consists of copper and silver. It can be yellow or red, which will tarnish outdoors as iron sulphide forms on the surface;
  • 500 (12K). This alloy is made up of about half gold. It is low-cast, and the remaining components are also silver and copper;
  • 585 (14K). This alloy contains 58.5% gold. It also contains palladium, nickel, silver, and copper. This gold does not tarnish when outdoors, is strong and hard, and forges well. It is very frequently used in the jewellery industry;
  • 750 (18K). 75% gold. Includes the previously mentioned components and platinum. The colour varies from bright green to red in all shades. Due to its hardness, strength, and ease of processing, it is widely used for jewellery making; 
  • 958 (23K). The alloy contains 96% pure gold and is practically not used for jewellery production. The metal is too soft for increased jewellery and has a bright and intense colour;
  • 999 (24K). Virtually pure gold, prone to warping, not used by jewellers. 
  • You can choose your jewellery according to the characteristics of the gold alloy or your personal preferences, as long as you like the piece.

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