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Education

Understanding Gold

The purity of gold is designated by karat. Pure gold is 24k but, because of its softness, other metals such as copper, silver, nickel and zinc are added to gold to strengthen it. What is added and how much is added determine the color and karat of the gold.

The color of Gold tells its story. Gold comes in several colors. Let’s pretend that a ring is pink gold. Inside the ring is stamped 10k. What do these things tell us? First, that the gold was mixed with copper, silver and zinc to make yellow gold. The pink look was achieved by using a larger quantity of copper. The 10k mark assures that 41.67% of the metal is pure gold, and the other 58.33% is copper, silver and zinc. It also indicates that the piece was made in the United States. (other countries do not use 10k). A 14k stamping would mean that the ring contained 58.33% gold and 41.67% other metals. If the ring was marked 18k, it would contain 75% pure gold and 25% other metals.

In Europe gold is stamped according to its fineness. Pure gold is 1000 fine; 18k gold is 75% or 750 find. So, an 18k ring made in Europe would be stamped 750. Below is a chart of the most common karat markings.

US/Karats  

   % of Gold  

  Fineness

24

100%

1000

22

90%

900

18

75%

750

15

62.5%

625

14

58.33%

583

10

41.67%

417

9

37.5%

375