What is Gold
One of the most recognizable precious metals, gold is a durable metal that is resistant to tarnish and corrosion. It is very malleable when heated, allowing it to be shaped into a number of different jewelry forms. Although naturally occurring as yellow gold, it can also be mixed with different alloys to create white, rose and green gold as well. Sterling silver jewelry can also be electroplated with karat gold. If the plating is at least 100 millionths of an inch thick, it is called “vermeil” and is an affordable alternative to karat gold jewelry.
Always look for a quality mark when purchasing gold jewelry.
24K Gold – The purity of the gold is measured in karats, which is expressed in 24ths. That makes 99.9% fine or pure gold 24 karat (24K). Pure gold is not only the most yellow, it is also very soft. Therefore, 24K gold is not recommended for daily wear.
22K Gold – To strengthen it, alloys or other metals are added to 24K gold. The amount and type of alloy determine the color of the gold and its strength. 22K is 22 parts pure gold and 2 parts other metals, making it 91% pure. As a result, it is slightly less yellow in color than 24K gold.
18K Gold – 18k is 18 parts pure gold and six parts other metals, making it 75% pure.
14K Gold – You’ll also find 14K gold used in jewelry. It is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metals, making it a little more than half pure, 58.5%. This affects its color and its strength proportionately. 14K is considered the most wearable.
10K Gold – 10K gold is only 10 parts pure gold.
White – White gold is created from yellow gold alloyed with nickel or palladium, zinc and copper. All white gold is Rhodium plated to create a bright white finish. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard. However, it may wear off over time, requiring the jewelry to be re-plated, which is a simple process that can be easily performed at Borsheims.
Rose – By adding a larger proportion of copper to a metal alloy, and then combining with 58.5% pure gold, rose gold is created. The warm, pink color of rose gold offers the desired strength and hue that’s especially desirable in multi-tone gold jewelry.
Yellow – Yellow gold is known to be the most popular color choice of gold, as it is found naturally and in its purest state.
Regardless of the purity of your fine gold jewelry, its care is key to lasting beauty and enjoyment. Prevent abrasions and dulling by keeping your gold jewelry away from chlorine, cleaning fluid and other household cleaners. Store your gold pieces in soft cloth bags or in their original boxes.
Routinely clean your gold jewelry with a detergent-free soap and warm water, using a soft-bristled brush. Consider professional cleaning by Borsheims three to four times a year to check settings and clasps, as well.
It’s interesting to note that fine gold is not actually 100% pure. It is actually 99.9% pure. You’ll find the foreign stamp designates gold by the percentage of purity. So, 24K gold carries the stamp 999, 18K gold is stamped 750 and 14K is 585.