By Judi Kipner Wolf , Monday, February 11, 2013
There’s an old saying, “Remember the Golden Rule - Whoever has the gold, makes the rules”. Kidding aside, if you are interested in jewelry, some basic gold education will be helpful. There is little doubt that gold is the most sought after metal in the history of mankind. Through the ages it has been considered a symbol of wealth and power. To this very day gold is used all over the world as a form of monetary exchange. Its rarity and value makes it synonymous with luxury and prosperity. It will not tarnish, corrode or rust. It is a very durable metal while at the same time being very malleable and ductile which makes it ideal for use in jewelry.
The purity of gold is defined with measurements known as karats (see table below). Pure 24k gold is too soft to withstand the stresses of everyday wear and it is therefore not widely used in pure form for crafting jewelry. In order to make gold more versatile, it is combined or “alloyed” with other metals like copper, zinc, nickel and silver. The following is shows the percentage of pure gold in alloys commonly used in the jewelry industry:
24k (24 karat) - 100% pure gold Too soft for jewelry use
22k (22 karat) - 91.7% gold Very soft, not recommended for jewelry
18k (18 karat) - 75% gold Recommended and often used for fine jewelry
14k (14 karat) - 58.3% gold Recommended for jewelry use
12k (12 karat) - 50% gold Not recommended for jewelry
10k (10 karat) - 41.7% gold The lowest legal karat limit of real gold in the U.S.
The color of a gold alloy is determined by the metals it is mixed with and the percentage
of each metal in the alloy.
Yellow Gold is the result of alloys containing some copper. The result will be either 14k yellow gold or 18k yellow gold depending on the percentage of gold used. Yellow gold alloys containing silver will produce a greenish hue and copper produces a reddish hue. For many years, yellow gold was the predominant and preferred form of the metal in the jewelry industry. In some parts of the world it still is, and in the U.S. it has been making a comeback of sorts in the world of jewelry fashion.
White Gold is a mixture of pure gold and white metals such as nickel, silver, and palladium. The result is a whitish alloy that, when electroplated with rhodium (a bright white rare metal in the platinum group), has a beautiful white luster that makes it very popular in the use of diamond engagement rings, pendants and other jewelry items. Many designer engagement rings
sold today are made of white gold. Bear in mind that rhodium plating does tend to wear away in time and will require re-plating by a jeweler to restore its original luster and bright white shine. Palladium is growing in popularity as a white gold alloy. Either 14k white gold or 18k white gold will result, depending on the ratio of pure gold in the alloy. To achieve 18K Palladium White Gold, the mix would be 75% pure gold and 15% pure palladium.
is created by using an alloy very heavy on the copper. It is also sometimes known as pink gold. There is no difference between pink and rose gold except in the name. The amount of copper in the alloy will determine the depth of color that results. These beautiful pink hues are a popular choice in Verragio rings
and other designers that feature vintage and intricate styles. Again, the result will be 14K rose gold or 18k rose gold, (or 14k pink gold and 18k pink gold) depending on how much copper alloy was used in the mix.
Whether you prefer the eternally popular yellow gold or the increasingly fashionable white gold is a matter of personal taste. And then there are the warm and lovely soft tones of rose gold to consider. In the world of beautiful fine diamond jewelry, a mixture of colors is often the perfect combination. Now that you have acquired a little gold education you have a better idea of which color and purity to choose. Gold has long been a part of our world but it is growing scarcer. If you own a precious piece of it, then treasure it. When properly cared for, it will last forever.
For more specific questions ask our experts