We are covering basic information about gold karat and colour. Please check here for info on other types of metal for your next jewellery purchase.
How does the Karat work on gold?
We have heard so much of “18 karat gold” or “18K gold”. But what does “Karat” really mean?
Karat in gold refers to purity of gold out of 24 parts of a whole. When a piece of jewellery being made from 18k gold, it means that the metal used on the piece has 18 part of gold and 6 part of other alloys. In term of what metals are used to mix with gold, this depends on what colour the goldsmiths or jewellers want the gold to be in. The higher number of karat indicates higher purity of gold in the piece. Karat can also be called Carat, seen as “CT”. This is not to be confused with “Carat” which is a unit used to for weight of Diamond and Gemstones.
Another aspect of gold worth noting is even though 24 karat is the highest purity for gold, there will be other metal mixed into gold as pure gold is too soft for making jewellery. To put karat of gold into 1/1000 part, they will look like below:
- 24 Karat = 999 parts in 1000 parts (99.9% gold)
- 18 Karat = 750 parts in 1000 parts (75% gold)
- 14 Karat = 585 parts in 1000 parts (58.5% gold)
- 10 Karat = 417 parts in 1000 parts (41.7% gold)
- 9 Karat = 375 parts in 1000 parts (37.5% gold)
Notice familiar numbers here on the jewellery pieces. Number of parts per 1000 parts of gold are regularly used as stamp on the jewellery to indicate gold purity used on the piece. For example, for 18 karat gold, there can be 750, 18k or 18ct stamp on the piece.
Karat and Price
The lower karat the gold is the lower gold purity it will be. It, however, also means that the gold will be more durable and less expensive.
At the higher end of the spectrum, 18 karat gold is the most used for jewellery because it has good durability while still has relatively high gold purity. 24 karat and 22 karat are considered too soft for stone settings. In recent years, 9 karat gold has become more popular due to its durability and affordability.
Keep in mind that even though 18k is softer than 9k gold, we are talking about a slight difference in hardness between the two. Unless the 18k and 9k are rubbing together everyday, which 9k will scratch the 18k, the difference of hardness for both purity of gold are more or less forgivable when they are worn alone.
18k keeps its appearance better than 9k over time, especially through everyday wear. This is another reason why 18k is widely preferred for wedding band and engagement ring.
What is the karat gold for you? This will be up to your lifestyle as most of all what suits your budget.
Yellow gold is considered as a timeless type of gold. It has been around for a very long time and always is the most preferred choice of gold (while rose gold and white gold will be in and out of fashion).
Yellow Gold generally mixed with copper and zinc to create alloy. The lower karat on the gold means the more copper and zinc mixed in. This results in paler yellow colour on the 9k gold compared to 18k gold. The golden lustrous colour of the 18k makes it one of most used gold type on jewellery, especially wedding and engagement rings. It also holds up well against the demand of everyday wear.
Yellow Gold Benefits
In terms of longevity, yellow gold is easier to maintain compared to white gold as there is no plating required. This means you are saving around AUD$30-$60 each time you send your beloved jewellery piece for polishing. However, please keep in mind that compared to the same karat gold in different colours, yellow gold is more prone to get scratched.
Yellow gold is a classic colour that compliments variety of skin colours, particularly those with a warmer skin tone. It also looks especially amazing on someone with olive and darker skin. To check if you have warm tone skin, see if your veins inside your wrist (under just under your forehand) look greenish. You should also notice a yellow/golden undertone in your skin.
Yellow gold makes diamonds look brighter and whiter due to the contrast it has against the clear/ white colour of the diamonds. As a result, yellow gold is a great metal to pick when you select the more budget friendly option diamond for your jewellery. To opt for a more modern and luxurious look, you can also choose to have yellow gold body with white gold setting/claws.
To create white gold alloy, jewellers usually mix metal like silver, palladium or nickel with gold. If you are sensitive to nickel, you might want to check if the jewellers have mixed nickel in the white gold alloy. At Gevery, we use gold and palladium alloy on our Made To Order range.
White Gold Benefits
There is no colour variation between different karat of white gold. This is because all white gold are plated with rhodium to give it white look. White gold alloy alone without rhodium plating has yellow tint to it.
White gold is a great choice as it is cheaper than platinum but giving you a similar look. We use the word “similar look” here because platinum has a slight grey/gunmetal hue in it. Rhodium plated white gold looks more true white. However, these differences are only noticeable when both metals are next to each other. You can even opt for 9k white gold for the same look without breaking your bank.
Another point to note is that white gold jewellery needs to be rhodium plated every time it is polished. This is because polishing will take the rhodium out at the same time as all the scuffs and scratches. This process makes white gold jewellery looks slightly yellow and lost its lustrous look. It is recommended for white gold to be re-plated with rhodium every 12 – 18 months. However, don’t let this become your major concern as rhodium-plating service is widely available. In fact, Gevery offers free annual polishing and rhodium plating on our Made-To-Order range.
White gold looks great on paler skin and cool toned skin. If you are unsure if you have cool skin tone, check if you have bluish coloured veins inside your wrist (just under your forehand). Cool toned skin people will also notice rosy/pink hue on their skin.
This romantic looked gold has just made its come back in the recent year after being out of fashion for a little while.
Rose gold, which is also known as red gold and pink gold is made up from a mixture of gold and copper. The more copper in the pink gold alloy the redder it becomes. As a result, 9k rose gold is generally in darker rose colour, almost copper, while 18k rose gold has a subtle rose colour.
As copper is a very strong metal, this makes rose gold the most durable compared to yellow gold and white gold. (however 18k rose gold is still not as strong as platinum.) It also does not require plating like white gold does.
One down side is that copper is not hypoallergenic. People with sensitive skin are recommended to stay away for this type of gold.
Rose gold complements all skin tones and it also looks great against paler skin.
This colour gold looks great on vintage style pieces but also looks gorgeous on a modern piece when paired with white gold.