What Is Gold Karat?
in Jewelry Blog

What Is Gold Karat?

You are shopping for a piece of gold jewelry. You have heard of 10k, 14k gold and so forth. But you’re not sure what that means. We’ll break it down for you here.

24k Gold

24! Just like hours in the day. That’s all the karats there are in gold. So if some dude is telling you he’s got a 30k gold ring, you know he’s playing you.

A karat is simply a measure of purity, and pure gold is only 24k. It doesn’t go any higher than that. So, with that said, everything lower than 24 is not pure gold. You can take that to the bank.

24k Isn’t Good for Jewelry

Not only that, but you don’t want your gold jewelry to be 24k. Why? It will bend out of shape very easily. Pure gold is a very soft metal, so other metals have to be mixed with it in order to create durable jewelry. This mixture is called an alloy. The materials used are usually nickel, zinc, copper and sometimes aluminum. The alloy creates a harder and more durable piece of jewelry.

It’s Not the Same as Carat

Yes, we know they sound the same. But karat means how much pure gold, and carat means how much the gemstone weighs. So you might have a one-carat diamond in a 14k ring, for example. That’s how it works.

How Karats are Marked on Jewelry

Generally you will see the karat value stamped on the piece or on a tag attached to it. You might see 14K or 10k. Sometimes you may see a number such as 583, which is the parts per thousand (of 14K gold). Various letter designations mean the same: K, Kt, k, kt, or KT. You might also see the letter P, which stands for plumb, or exact. If you don’t see any stamp, you can ask the jeweler to test the piece for its gold content.

What Are the Best Karat Values for Gold Jewelry?

We can’t go any lower than 10k and call it gold in the U.S., so let’s start there. Some of the most common everyday jewelry is 10-karat. That means it has more of the other metals than of gold, but it’s legal to call it that. Less expensive jewelry is probably 10-karat, and its great benefit is that it is very durable and long-lasting.

One point to keep in mind, though, about 10k gold is that it contains nickel, and it can cause a rash in sensitive-skinned people. So if you’re thick-skinned, no problem (Just kidding). Seriously, check out the return policy if you think you may be allergic.

14k gold jewelry is an excellent choice for several reasons. Most importantly, it will be more golden in color than 10K and it has less nickel. It’s also very durable and suitable for everyday wear.

As for 18k, 20k and 22k jewelry, these may be good choices too, but only for occasional wear, as they are more apt to be damaged due to their higher gold content. They will cost more, also, because of their higher gold content.

Now you will feel like a jewelry expert when you go shopping for that nice piece of bling.