The purity of gold is measured in karats.
The term “karat” comes from ancient bazaars where “carob” beans were used to weigh precious metals. 24 karat is pure gold, but its purity means it is more expensive but too soft to be practical for jewelry.
Different metal alloys are mixed with gold to give jewelry greater strength, durability, and color range. When gold is mixed with other metals, the object contains a lesser percentage of gold.
The percentage of gold in an object is measured in karats (or carats).
24 karat is 100 percent, 18 karat is 75 percent, and 14 karat is 58 percent gold. When comparing gold jewelry, the higher the number of karats, the greater the value by weight.
Always look for the karat mark or “k” that appears on every piece of gold jewelry or other objects made of gold. By United States law, if a karat mark appears, you should also see the manufacturer’s trademark or hallmark to assure you that the karat marking is accurate. The country of origin should also appear.
In the United States, nothing less than 10 karats can legally be marked or sold as gold jewelry.
In India and the Middle-East, 22-karat gold is popular. Some gold coins, such as Saudi gold riyals are made of 22-karat gold. Most of the jewelry in Saudi Arabia is also 22-karat, because it is usually made form the original gold riyals. Such jewelry rarely bears a karat mark.
In Europe and in Asia, most of the gold is 18 karats, which means the object contains 18/24ths, or three-quarters pure gold. Karat marks for jewelry of this fineness is marked 18, or 750, the European designation meaning 75% gold.
In the United States, 14-karat gold is the most common degree of fineness. 14-karat gold contains 14/24ths or 582 parts per 1,000 parts pure gold and is the most common degree of fineness.
In some countries, lower karat weights, such as 8-karat gold and 9-karat gold, are popular.
“Gold Filled”, sometimes called “Gold Overlay”, refers to a layer of a minimum of 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 (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. 22-karat yellow gold is the most commonly used for gold leaf. Gold leaf is pounded into very thin sheets only 4-5 millionths on an inch thick! Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper.
Yellow gold is the most frequently used type of gold. It is malleable (can be hammered or rolled), ductile (can be drawn), and is usually non-corrosive. Yellow gold 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 varies, according to the amount of other metals used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish.
Rose gold is alloyed with copper, and sometimes silver. The proportions are about one part of copper to three parts of 24-karat (pure) gold.
What gold can you sell me?
Gold pricing is based on a number of factors, including karatage, gram weight, design, and craftsmanship. The number of karats and weight determines how much gold is in a piece. Here is a list of some of what you can sell me:
- Finished gold
- Gold jewelry
- Gold alloys
- Gold bracelets
- Gold bullion
- Gold chain
- Gold class rings
- Gold coins
- Gold bars
- Gold dust and sweeps
- Gold earrings
- Gold filled items
- Gold ingots, bars
- Gold leaf
- Gold nuggets
- Gold scrap
- Gold sheet
- Gold sizing stock
- Gold solder
- Gold wedding bands
- Gold wire
- Gold watches
- Gold watch bands and bezels
- Karat gold jewelry (9kt, 10kt, 12kt, 14kt, 18kt, 22kt, 24kt)
- Watch batteries
- Jewelry polishing sweeps
- Jeweler’s dust, filings from the work bench
- Jewelery settings, mountings, semi-mounts, findings
- Antique rings, pendants, bracelets, earrings, class rings, etc.
- Dental gold (fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.)
- Carpets (for gold dust)
- Tile floors (for gold residue)
- Sink traps (gold residue from rings, etc. as a result of washing