What is the difference between 24k, 22k, 18k, 14k and 9k gold
June 9, 2016
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and the atomic number 79. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal.
Gold is a precious metal used for coinage, jewelry, and other arts throughout recorded history.
What is the karat?
Karats measure the parts per 24, so that 18 karat = 18/24 = 75% and 24 karat gold is considered 100% gold.
Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color.
All good quality gold jewelry is hallmarked to tell you exactly what the karat is.
Fourteen- and eighteen-karat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. White gold alloys can be made with palladium or nickel. White 18-karat gold containing 17.3% nickel, 5.5% zinc and 2.2% copper is silvery in appearance. Nickel is toxic, however, and its release from nickel white gold is controlled by legislation in Europe.
Rose gold is composed of 75% gold and 25% copper, and pink gold is 75% gold, 21% copper and 4% silver. It’s the high percentage of copper that produces the rose color.
Gold does not tarnish and lasts forever, but the other metals in the alloy will tarnish. 22 carat gold tends to retain it’s shiny yellow look, especially if it is alloyed with silver. However 9 carat gold is vulnerable to tarnishing badly especially if alloyed with copper, and will sometimes turn green or black.
Various ways of expressing fineness have been used and two remain in common use: millesimal fineness expressed in units of parts per 1,000 and karats used only for gold.
Millesimal fineness is a system of denoting the purity of the alloys by parts per thousand of pure metal by mass in the alloy. For example, an alloy containing 75% gold is denoted as "750". Many European countries use decimal hallmark stamps (i.e. '585', '750', etc.) rather than '14K', '18K', etc., which is used in the United Kingdom and United States.
The millesimal fineness is usually rounded to a three figure number, particularly where used as a hallmark, and the fineness may vary slightly from the traditional versions of purity.
58.33% - 62.50% = 14k (acclaimed 58.33%)
75.00% - 79.16% = 18k (acclaimed 75.00%)
91.66% - 95.83% = 22k (acclaimed 91.66%)
95.83% - 99.95% = 23k (acclaimed 95.83%)
99.95 and 100 = 24k (acclaimed 99.99%)
Pricing is based on four factors:
The karatage and gram weight tell you how much gold is in a piece, but other crucial factors determining price are the piece's construction and design. A price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. It's important to remember that each piece of gold jewelry is unique and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime.
Caring for Your Gold Jewelry
Remember that gold is lasting and durable but can get scratched or dented if treated roughly.
Gold's worst enemy is chlorine. Repeated exposure can weaken gold's structure, eventually leading to breakage. So keep your jewelry away from chlorinated cleaning products and out of swimming pools and jacuzzis.
Protect your gold jewelry by storing it safely or keeping it wrapped in a soft cloth when not being worn.
Clean your gold jewelry with a cleaning solution of sudsy lukewarm water, or bring it to your local jeweler and have it steam-cleaned.
Dry and polish jewelry with a chamois or soft cloth after cleaning and rinsing.
Keep gold jewelry free from dust, moisture, perspiration and makeup.
Always inspect your gold jewelry for weakness or damage and bring it to a professional jeweler for immediate repair. Your jeweler will be able to restore it for you.
Good to know when purchasing gold jewelry
It is compulsory by law to hallmark of all articles of precious metals (Gold or Silver) offered for sale. Exemptions from hallmarking apply to gold articles with weight less than 1 gr and silver less than 3 gr. Examples of the markings made by the Cyprus Assay Office:
More information about hallmarking laws in Eu here: