Gold won't tarnish, rust, or corrode, and though it's very strong, it is also the most malleable of all metals.
Gold in its pure form (24k) is too soft to withstand abrasions caused from extensive daily wear, so it is alloyed with other metals to give it strength. This strength makes gold an excellent choice for a ring setting. Common gold alloys are silver, copper, nickel, and zinc.
Gold color is determined by the percentage of alloys that are included in the metal. When gold is alloyed with silver, copper, and zinc, the shade of color will vary. When gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc, it becomes white gold. Yellow gold and white gold have very similar strength and malleability. White gold looks very similar to platinum, but the two have very different properties and prices.
The purity of gold is measured in karats, which are expressed in 24ths. Thus, 24-karat gold is pure while 12-karat gold is 50 percent gold and 50 percent alloy.
The addition of alloying elements (other metals) to gold are used to increase the toughness and hardness of the metal, as well as change the color. Adjusting the proportions of coloring agents provides the array of colors on the market. Additional metals enhance properties such as castability, grain size, hardness, corrosion resistance, color, workability, ultimate strength, and others. These additions can dramatically change the properties of the karated metal for better or worse.
For example: 18 karat rose gold is 75%, or 18 parts fine gold and 25%, or 6 parts copper. It is the rich red copper combined with the pure yellow gold that creates a warm rosy tone. 14 karat white gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts white metal, either nickel or palladium. These white metals dominate the color, creating a warm gray tone.
Typical metal used to achieve the desired gold color are:
- Copper - Reddening
- Silver - Greening
- Zinc - Bleaching
- Nickel - Whitening
- Palladium - Whitening
- Yellow Gold: copper, silver, zinc
- White Gold: copper, nickel, zinc
- Red (Rose) Gold: copper
- Green Gold: silver
The price of gold jewelry is dependent upon the purity of the gold used or karat weight, as well as the design and construction of the piece of jewelry. When the karat weight or the gold percentage of the jewelry is high, the yellow color of gold is brighter, raising the value of the jewelry.
Pure 24k gold is soft and easily bent; 14k and 18k gold is mixed with other metals for strength, and beauty. Be sure to chose 14k or 18k for beauty and durability.
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24 karat = Pure gold
Too soft for jewelry
22 karat = 91.7% gold
Very soft — not recommended for jewelry
18 karat = 75.0% gold
Recommended for fine jewelry
14 karat = 58.3% gold
Acceptable for jewelry
12 karat = 50.0% gold
Not acceptable for jewelry
10 karat = 41.7% gold
The legal karat limit considered as real gold in the United States
Much of our gold jewelry is made of the most beautiful and durable 14k gold.