Gold Buyers Guide
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The bread and butter of most fine jewelry. It is perhaps the world's most beloved metal because it is highly durable which does not rust, corrode or tarnish over time with simple every day wear. In Jewelry history, globally jewelers have used gold for its illustrious look and its simplicity of use. Gold is extremely malleable which means it can easily be shaped and formed. This is done through a melting process in to the design desired.
The purity of Gold content in a specific metal is measured in terms of karats ("k" or "kt"). Pure Gold is referred to as 24kt Gold. In jewelry more times than not pure gold is blended with other metals. For example metals such as silver, copper or nickel is the most frequent alloy mixed. When this is done the purity lowers. 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. There is a double edged sword to that however, as the percentage of pure Gold decreases, the price of the metal also decreases: so 14k Gold will cost less than 18k Gold.
Gold Karat Chart
|Very soft and rarely used in jewelry.
|Soft for jewelry but used predominately in a few countries. Also used in many coins.
|Used in many jewelry pieces with a good combination of value and strength.
|Most heavily used in jewelry and very desirable. Good balance of durability and value.
|Rarely used in jewelry.
|Used in many lower end jewelry piece and the lowest purity to be legally allowed to be called gold in the United States.
If you are ever curious to know the karat weight of the piece of jewelry, it is generally marked with a 10kt, 14kt, 18kt, 22kt or 24kt stamp. For a better accuracy go to a local jeweler and have a metal gun tested to determine the exact percentage. Europe is different because jewelry is marked by a number which is the percentage of Gold in the alloy, for example 18k is marked "750" to designate the 75% of Gold in the metal.
Common Gold Colors
Price of Gold Jewelry
The price of gold jewelry is determined by several factors other than the karat purity. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to, total weight of the jewelry, design and construction, and ornamental detailing such as engraving and the finish of the metal. Handmade gold pieces are highly valued due to an increased reliance on special machines.
Care of Gold Jewelry
As with all jewelry regular maintenance should be taken with all gold jewelry to preserve its constant adoring look. When performing any labor intensive activity, it is highly recommended to remove the piece to avoid damage. Gold jewelry is very easy to maintain as it requires just simple soap solution and rubbing with a light brush. Try to always store your Gold jewelry in an individual or compartmentalized fabric lined case as this will prevent any unnecessary scratching. Check the prongs of your jewelry regularly, and always show your jewelry to a professional if you notice any loose prongs.
Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled
The term gold filled refers to the manufacturing process in which a sheet of base metal, usually brass, is mechanically bonded with thinner sheets of gold. A "sandwich" is formed by mechanically bonding a layer of gold on both sides of brass. This "sandwich" is then cold worked by rolling until a much thinner gauge metal is achieved. Products are then formed or die-struck from this layered material.
When a layer of gold is affixed on all surfaces by any mechanical means, and the weight of the gold is a minimum of 1/20th of the total weight of the metal in the article, it may be marked "Gold Filled (GF)". The quality of the gold used is typically 10, 12 or 14 karat gold with 10 karat being minimum. Hallmarking would look like "10kt GF" or "14kt GF". Yellow gold filled or white gold filled simply indicates the color of the karat gold used in the making of the gold filled product.
The terms "Rolled Gold Plate" and "Gold Overlay" refer to the same bonding process; however, the weight of karat gold is less than 1/20th but not less than 1/40th of total weight of metal. Hall marking would look, for example, like, "1/30th 12kt R.G.P", "1/40th 10kt Gold Overlay".
When a product is referred to as gold, rhodium, or nickel-plated, this indicates that it has been electroplated with a thin layer of that particular metal. An article of jewelry is "Gold Plated" when gold is electroplated or mechanically sheathed with a minimum thickness of 1/2 micron (20 millionths of an inch) of fine gold. The quality of the gold used is typically 10, 12, 14 karat. The karat quality of the gold plate must be disclosed and it can be described as "12kt Gold Plate" or "2u 12kt G.P." for an item plated with 2 microns of 12 karat gold.
The table below lists all the different plating terms and their associated thicknesses.
|Heavy Gold Plate
|Greater then 100 Micro-inch ( > 2.5 micron)
|Greater then 20 Micro-inch ( > .5 micron)
|Gold Electro Plate
|Greater then 7 Micro-inch ( > .175 micron)
|Less then 7 Micro-inch ( > .175 micron)