Let’s talk gold: Do you need 24, 18, or 12?

Gold jewelryYou can find jewelry and accessories in all types of gold. But the type of gold you get—and the type of jewelry it’s used in—can make a big difference in a piece’s durability, value, and appearance. 24 karat gold is one of the purest types. It’s tarnish-free, won’t cause allergic reactions, and polishes to a brilliant shine. It’s also very soft, which can be a problem.

To make gold more durable, other metals, called “alloys” are mixed with the gold. The type of alloy used can determine your shade of gold. The karat (“K”) is an indication of the amount of gold in the metal. The higher the karat, the more expensive a piece will be.

18K gold: 75% gold and 25% alloy

14K gold: 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy

10K gold: 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy

What gives gold jewelry its color

Even though gold metal is, well, gold, color is the result of the type of alloy that the gold is mixed with. Here are some popular colors and the alloy that gives it its hue:

  • Yellow gold has alloys like copper and zinc.
  • White gold is mixed with an alloy like palladium or silver. It’s often plated with rhodium, which gives the white gold its luster and hue. (The natural color before rhodium is more of a gray.)
  • Rose gold is popular today. It gets its tone from copper that’s added to the alloy. The more copper, the rosier the color.

gold necklaceIs it gold? Some ways to check

There are international gold marks that can indicate the amount of gold in jewelry; these marks indicate the parts-per-thousand gold content.
24K = .999     18K = .750      14K = .585        10K = .417

Gold filled vs gold plate

GF means gold filled, a layer of gold that’s bonded by heat or pressure to another metal. The quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th of the total weight. If done well, the gold should not wear off.

If you see GP or GE, your piece is gold plate or electroplate. Gold plating consists of bonding a thin layer of gold onto the surface of a metal like copper or silver, often by an electrochemical process. This gold layer makes it thinner than gold-filled jewelry, so daily wear and tear can make the jewelry tarnish over time.

The best way to identify the gold content of your ring, watch, or other valuable, is with an appraisal. Set up an appointment and we can catalog and value your glittery gold pieces.

Brilliantly (24 karat) yours,




, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply