Gold Quality The purity of gold is measured in karats. Pure gold measures 24 karats but is too soft in this state to be used effectively in jewelry. So it is alloyed with other metals--silver, copper, nickel, and zinc--to increase its strength and durability. Common measurements once the alloy is added are 18 karat (75% gold), 14 karat (58%), and 10 karat (47.7%). In the United States, the legal karat limit for the metal to still be considered gold is 10 karats. A higher karat measurement in gold content indicates a greater value of the jewelry piece. Gold jewelry should always be stamped with the karat mark, either 18k, 750 (European marking for 18k), 14k, 585 (European marking for 14k), or 10k. In addition, to assure its quality, the piece should be stamped with the manufacturer's trademark or country of origin.
Gold Color Yellow gold is the most common color and is usually alloyed with silver and copper. Yellow and white gold are similar in strength and malleability, making them perfect for jewelry that is worn daily. White gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc--and while it looks similar to platinum, it has vastly different properties. Rose-colored gold is alloyed with copper and is often used to accent white or yellow gold. The saturation of color varies from piece to piece and according to gold content.
Gold Care To keep gold shining and scratch-free, avoid contact with chlorine and other harsh chemicals. Do not wear jewelry during rough work and be sure to store it in a fabric-lined jewelry box or pouch. To clean gold jewelry, use warm water, a mild soap, and a soft bristled brush, if needed.
Gold Filled, also called Gold Overlay, refers to a layer of at least 10-karat gold that has been permanently bonded by heat and pressure to one or more surfaces of the support metal, then rolled or drawn to a prescribed thickness. The karat gold must be at least 1/10 of the total weight.
Gold Plate means that a layer of plating of 10-karat gold or better has been bonded to a base metal. The karat gold content may be less than 1/20, but it must be properly identified by weight in terms of total metal content.
Gold Leaf is just gold plating that's been pounded and applied by hand.
Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper. It is the most frequently used type of gold there is. Malleable, ductile, and generally non-corrosive, it has a high melting point and is not susceptible to compression.
White gold is alloyed with a large percentage of silver, or a selection of other white metals. The percentage of gold naturally varies, according to the amount of other metal used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. The ancient term for it was Electrum. Its use predates that of Palladium and Platinum.
Rose gold is alloyed with copper, and perhaps silver. The proportions are about one part of copper to three parts of 24-karat gold.
Gold pricing is based on a number of factors, including karatage, gram weight, design and craftsmanship. The karatage and gram weight tell you how much gold is in a piece, but don't rely on these alone to determine price. Remember, a price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece.
Other important factors to consider are the jewelry's construction and design. The techniques of construction can make a piece more durable and flexible for added comfort. A well-made piece in a classic design will give you years of wear and enjoyment and, if cared for properly, will last a lifetime. Unique design, intricate details, gemstones or a special clasp may add to the price.
Gold jewelry is mainly produced by machine. Any additional hand finishing or textural interest raises the cost. Similar looking pieces may have vastly different price tags. This is because different pieces may have specific characteristics that make them unique. So look carefully to notice any differences and similarities. Often, it's these small details that give you pleasure through the years that you enjoy a piece of jewelry, and ensure that your children will also enjoy it.
Gold is durable, sturdy, dependable, and makes an ideal setting for your precious diamond jewelry. However, to get a lifetime of enjoyment from your jewelry, be sure to keep it clean and safe.
Do not wear jewelry during rough work or when handling harsh chemicals.
Store it in a fabric-lined box away from other pieces to preserve it from getting scratched.
Finally, check the diamond settings periodically for any damage to the gold prongs or bezels. If you see a loose prong, or if the setting looks out of line, bring it to a professional jeweler for repair at once.