Gold is a precious metal that has been a symbol of wealth since the beginning of time. In its most expensive, pure form of 24 karats, gold is quite soft and malleable. To gain strength and tenacity, gold is commonly combined with other metals, usually with silver and copper in a process called alloying. Although this may decrease the value of the gold slightly, it increases durability and allows gold to be used for long lasting fine jewellery.
The Gold content in a metal is measured in terms of karats ("k" or "kt"). Pure Gold or 100% Gold is referred to as 24k Gold. When this pure Gold is alloyed with other metals, such as silver, copper, or nickel, the Gold percentage decreases. 18k Gold is 18/24th or 75% pure Gold, and 14k Gold is 14/24 or 58.3% pure Gold. As the percentage of pure Gold decreases, the strength of the metal increases: so 14k Gold is stronger than 18k Gold. Additionally, as the percentage of pure Gold decreases, the price of the metal also decreases: so 14k Gold will cost less than 18k Gold.
24 karat Gold equals 100% pure GoldToo soft for jewellery
22 karat Gold equals 91.7% GoldStill too soft for jewellery. Popular in certain parts of the world.
18k Gold equals 75% GoldVery popular for jewellery, good balance of strength and value
14 karat Gold equals 58.3% GoldExtremely popular for jewellery. Good balance of durability and value.
12 karat Gold equals 50% GoldNot used for jewellery
10 karat Gold equals 41.7% GoldLowest Gold content that can be legally marked as Gold in the United States.
Gold has a warm yellow colour in its purest form. Even when it is alloyed with other metals such as silver, nickel or palladium to make 14k or 18k Gold, it retains a yellowish colour. The richness of the Gold colour is directly affected by the percentage of Gold in its alloys: therefore, 18k Gold has a richer Gold colour than 14k Gold.
To give White Gold its brilliant shiny white luster, the final process of making White Gold involves plating the metal with a layer of Rhodium. Rhodium is a shiny white metal, which is extremely hard and durable. Over time, withregular wear, the Rhodium plating may wear off revealing the yellow Gold underneath, and can be easily repaired by a jeweller who can redo the Rhodium plating.