What You Need To Know About Gold
Everything You Need To Know
As one of the oldest metals, gold has stood the test of time and continues to shine brilliantly in all types of jewelry. Understanding its characteristics will help you as you search for your perfect ring, pendant, bracelet or pair of earrings. Gold is a soft metal, making it easy to melt and shape into virtually any design. Key factors to keep in mind include karat weight, the alloys in its composition, and color differences.
Karatage. Because gold is such a malleable metal, it is typically alloyed with other metals (most often copper or silver) to make it more durable. The amount of actual gold in the composition is expressed in karats (not to be confused with “carats” of a diamond.) The more gold content, the softer it is. Here is a simple overview of some of the most common gold karatages and their ratio of actual gold:
- 24K is 100% pure gold.
- 18K is about 75% gold.
- 14K is a little more than 58% gold, and is the most common karatage in many parts of the world.
- 10K is about 41.7% gold, and is the lowest gold count that can be legally marketed as “gold” in the U.S.
Now the phrase, “she’s worth her weight in gold,” may seem a little more complicated! One tip to keep in mind: a piece of gold jewelry is typically stamped with a quality mark that shows its karatage. In the United States, the mark is a karat designation.
Color. Yellow gold has been in style for decades, but in more recent years, different shades of gold have had a chance to shine as well. Each shade has its own unique characteristics, determined by the types and the percentages of metal alloys in the composition. As you shop for your next sparkler, keep these hints in mind to help navigate your search.
- Yellow Gold – the purest (most natural) gold and the easiest to care for. This is the most common color of gold jewelry and it complements most skin tones and colored gemstones. For a brighter gold, 14K is a good option, and an 18K gold piece is likely to have deeper tones.
- White Gold – contains most of the same properties as yellow gold, but is mixed with different alloys to change its color (nickel, palladium, and manganese are common). Sometimes white gold is plated in a whiter metal like rhodium to enhance its color. White gold is stunning with white diamonds.
Rose Gold – made from copper and silver alloys mixed with yellow gold, this soft pink shade is trendy and feminine. The blush tint has a flattering effect on skin tone.
Gold is fairly resistant to tarnish and rust, but chlorine and other chemicals (like the ones used in cleaning products) do affect it. As with most jewelry, it is recommended to remove it when exposed to harsher elements. Maintenance is simple; just use warm water and detergent-free soap and a soft-bristled brush, and enjoy the lasting luster of your gold jewelry!