Gold. What is it?
Gold is a chemical element, with the atomic number 79 and symbol Au. It is one of nine metals known as noble metals which are extremely resistant to corrosion and chemical attack. This is all code for: Pure gold will not rust, tarnish, or lose it's color. Pure gold however is not ideal for jewelry making because its very soft and easily bent or scratched. (Picture our paperclip chain, being made out of actual paperclips.) Because pure gold is too soft to make jewelry, it's mixed with other metals to make it stronger and more durable. The ratio of other metals to gold is indicated by the karat system. (Not to be confused with carat, which is a unit of weight for gems.)
Gold Karat Ratios and Color
The presence of metal alloys affects the color, price, durability, and lifespan of the jewelry. 24K gold is 99.9% (gold bars) to 100% pure (gold ores). It's a bright orangish color not usually idea for jewelry and very soft and malleable. It's also very expensive. 1
As the karat decreases the gold purity decreases. There will be a subtle loose in the bright color but the durability increases and the price becomes more affordable. The possibility of tarnish also increases because of the higher presence of metal alloys. Generally, anything above 10k will not see tarnish.
Most Commonly Used Karats
- 24k = 24 out of 24 parts gold (100% gold)
- 18k = 18 out of 24 parts gold (75% gold)
- 14k = 14 out of 24 parts gold (58.3% gold)
- 10k = 10 out of 24 parts gold (41.6% gold)
Anything below 10k is legally not allowed to be called gold in the US.
Every purity level has a range of disadvantages and advantages. For jewelry you plan to wear regularly, a lower karat option will have the durability you need and a more affordable price tag. For special occasions, a higher karat option will have more color and value.
At CaWren, we use 14k solid gold to produce our dainty pieces so they can withstand daily wear while still having an affordable price tag. Upon request, we make custom orders in other karats and plate 10k gold in 14k or higher.