Since you are not likely to encounter 24k gold in real life, we’ll break it down for you here. If you are shopping for jewelry, you have to understand that pure gold doesn’t make good jewelry. The reason is that the metal is too soft and malleable. A ring made of pure gold would soon be bent and nicked – maybe even smashed.
What Is 24-Karat Gold?
A karat is a unit of purity, based on 24k being the ultimate purity of gold. It doesn’t get better than 24k. So, all the karat values of gold jewelry are based on this fact. Specifically, the 14k gold we are comparing it to has 14/24ths of gold in it, or more than 50% - 58.34% to be exact.
What Are the Main Differences?
- 24K is softer than 14K
- 24K has a better gold color
- 24K is pure gold; 14K isn’t
- 24K is more expensive
In reality, as noted before, the 24k gold is top-of-the-line, but unusable for our jewelry purposes.
How is 14K Gold Made?
14-karat gold is a product manufactured by combining other metals with gold for the purpose of hardening the metal to be suitable for use in the production of jewelry and other pieces of art. The material is carefully heated until it melts together, and then cooled and allowed to harden
The metals usually combined with gold are nickel, zinc, manganese, copper and palladium. The resulting metal is referred to as an alloy, or gold alloy.
How Is 14K Gold Used?
The alloy is then shaped into the desired jewelry piece. It can be used in any piece of jewelry, and is the most popular choice for diamond rings, for example. It can also be used as a coating to be added to less expensive metal bases. This coating is referred to as gold-filled or gold-plated. Again, the 24k gold would not be suitable for this purpose because of its tendency to be easily marred.
14k jewelry is a good choice for most jewelry purchases because of its sturdiness, its color and its affordability. It contains enough gold to be pleasing to the eye, but not so much as to be nicked or scratched readily.
Now, you are better prepared to understand the 14-karat designation and to buy it with confidence.