You are going shopping soon for some nice gold jewelry. What should you be looking for? What are the facts about karat values?
Fortunately, karat values are very straightforward. They denote purity, and they are all based on the fact that pure gold is pegged at 24k. This fact will give you some idea of what you are looking at; for example if you see a 14k bracelet, you know it’s not pure gold. In fact, you can find the percentage of gold by simply dividing 14 by 24, and you will know the bracelet contains 58.34% gold and the rest other metal. Gold by itself is so soft you wouldn’t want a bracelet made of it, anyway, because the poor thing would soon be badly out of shape because of its malleability, or softness. And it would cost far more than you might want to pay. So the gold is alloyed, or mixed, with stronger metals so that it will hold its shape.
Karat Stamps and Their Meanings
There are various ways you will see karat value stamped on jewelry or on their tags. All of these can denote karats: K, Kt, k, kt, KT. The stamp will also have a number in front of the karat designation, such as 10K or 14kt. The numbers are simply the part of the piece of jewelry that is pure gold. So, a 10kt piece would have less gold than a 14K and so on.
Jewelry can also be stamped by a number to indicate how many parts per thousand are pure gold. If you see 750, for example, it stands for 750 parts out of one thousand, or 75%. That is the number indicating a 22Kt piece, incidentally.
If you see the letter P included in the stamp, such as 22kP (the P stands for “plumb”), you will know for sure that the piece has that amount of gold. You see, a piece of jewelry stamped with a karat stamp can actually have a little bit less gold than it says, but the P on the stamp guarantees that it has at least that amount.
The jeweler should be willing to test the piece for you if there is no stamp. Or, in the case that you just want to test what you already have, you can buy a test kit.
Now, when you shop for that special piece of gold jewelry, you will be a little more knowledgeable about the meaning of karat, and this should enable you to buy a better piece of jewelry that you will enjoy for many years to come.