gold metals: Know Your Karats
Look for the karat mark, which will tell you that the piece is real gold and the percentage of pure gold it contains. Pure gold, or 24K, has a deeply warm and rich color, but it is extremely soft and easily damaged.
For this reason, pieces made from pure gold take on unique stamps of individuality with wear. Nearly always, gold is alloyed with other metals, such as copper, silver, nickel and zinc to give it strength and durability. Different proportions of these alloys also give gold its rose, green, or white coloration.
18K gold is 75% gold; 14K is 58.3%; and 10K is 41.7%. The higher the karatage, the richer the color will be and the more costly. In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally sold as gold. (In Canada and Mexico, the minimum legal standard of karatage is 9K and 8K respectively.) Imported gold jewelry may be stamped with different numbers. For example, the European marking for 14 karat gold jewelry is 585; for 18K it is 750. Note: Don't be confused with "carats," the weight and measure used for diamonds and other gems.
Look For The Trademark on your gold metals
On karat-marked jewelry sold in the U.S., always look for the manufacturer's trademark. By U.S. law it must be there. When there's a hallmark, it means the manufacturer stands behind the accuracy of the karat mark. You may also find the country of origin marked.
Evaluate The Price of your gold jewelry
In addition to karatage, the price of gold jewelry is determined by several factors: total weight; design and construction; and ornamental detailing, such as engraving or Florentine finish. Although nearly all gold jewelry today is made with the help of special machines, some handwork is always involved. The more there is, the higher the price.
The good news is that through modern manufacturing technology, large, lightweight, and exciting pieces can be surprisingly affordable.
Check The gold Clasp
When buying a gold necklace or bracelet, make sure you examine the clasp to ensure proper function and that it is strong enough to support the chain. Run your hand over the chain and look for any rough edges. A well-made piece of gold jewelry should look and feel like the quality piece it is. Gold jewelry is a piece of jewelry designed to last a lifetime.
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