gold education header

Gold Karat

One of the great qualities of gold is its malleability. This, combined with its physical beauty and resistance to corrosion, makes gold the ultimate creative medium. Pure gold can be considered too soft and delicate for use in jewelry, so it is often combined with other metals for greater strength. Gold comes in a variety of karatages to provide a greater range of price for people on tighter budgets. The most common and popular karatages for gold jewelry are as follows:

  • 10 karat (417 parts per 1000, 41.7%) Typically offered in the mass jewelry market for the budget conscious buyer and has the lowest gold content to be legally sold in the United States. This karatage of gold is also the most durable due to the amount of other, harder, metals that are alloyed with the gold.
  • 14 karat (585 parts per 1000, 58.5%) This is by far the most commonly used karatage in the United States (and perhaps the world) and provides a nice balance between gold content, hardness/durability and affordability.
  • 18 karat (750 part per thousand, 75%) This is a popular karatage for higher end jewelry in the United States, Europe and other regions, and its usage is expanding in North America. In addition, this is the karatage at which gold can begin to change color as other metals are added to the alloy. Gold karatages above 18k are not typically seen in gold jewelry in the United States but can be more common in other parts of the world. Gold karatages above 18k tend to be too soft to be used in fine jewelry.

  • Gold Color

    Today the metal’s traditional golden hue can be subtly and changed. The modern alloying process, undertaken to increase durability and wearability, now combines pure gold with other metals to create a variety of colors. Mixing in white metals, such as palladium or silver in combination, creates white gold. Rhodium plating is another common addition to give gold its white color. The addition of copper results in the soft pink complexion of rose gold. And gold can now be created in a spectrum of other colors, such as green, purple and even black.