Your Ultimate Gold Handbook: Understanding Colour and Carat

gold jewellery

Ever found yourself pondering whether pure gold truly makes the best jewellery or if rose gold qualifies as the real deal? Does the distinction between carat and karat confuse you? And more importantly, why should you care about all this in the first place?

We're here to spill the beans on this stunning precious metal and share some fascinating gold titbits. So, buckle up as we guide you through the golden maze, arming you with insights to make informed choices on your next jewellery spree.

Let's get started …

Karat V/S Carat: Which One Is Correct?

The terms "carat" and "karat" play unique roles in measurement. "Carat" is for precious stones like diamonds, while "karat" assesses gold purity. But why is it spelled both as "carat" and "karat"?— Encountering both spellings online is common, and both are correct when it comes to gold. "Karat" serves as an alternative spelling for gold, differentiating its purity from the weight of gemstones.

This distinction allows you to differentiate between the weight of gemstones in a jewellery and the purity of gold. For instance, you may have an 18-K gold pendant with a 0.5-carat diamond. The 'K' in "karat" signifies it refers to gold. It's a convenient shorthand often employed to indicate gold purity.

Where Else is Carat Mainly Used?

Carat measures gemstone mass, not purity. In the US, 'carat' for gold purity is spelled 'karat,' like '24K.' This switch helps separate gemstones and gold terms for easier understanding. Using "karat" instead of "carat" for gemstones is seen as wrong, but using "carat" for gold purity is considered acceptable.

Did you know?

Pure gold, at 24 carats, gleams with a radiant, warm hue unlike any other metal. Its rarity adds to its unique warmth and preciousness, with just 171,300 tonnes ever mined globally – a quantity that fits into a single Olympic-sized swimming pool.

How Pure is Your Gold Jewellery?

The purest gold is 24 carats, but for practical use, 24ct gold is often too soft. To enhance durability, gold is commonly alloyed with metals like copper or silver. This process reduces purity, but it makes the gold more suitable for everyday wear.

Each gold carat represents one part of 24. For instance, 18 carat gold is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts another metal, typically copper. Similarly, 9 carat gold consists of 9 parts gold and 15 parts of another metal.

Note: There's no such thing as cheap gold jewellery. If your inexpensive gold jewellery is causing skin discolouration (turning it green or black), it might not be gold at all. Be wary of misconceptions!

The Karat Varieties:

Gold purities are typically distinguished by a gold hallmark, a stamp that includes the carat number accompanied by a letter or letters. For instance, 18 carat gold may be marked as 18, 18ct, 18kt, or 18k, depending on the jeweller's practices and location.

- 9k gold is stamped with the number 375, indicating 37.5% pure gold.

- 14k gold, with 58.5% pure gold, is often stamped with the numbers 585.

- 18k gold (or 18ct), commonly used in high-value jewelleries like wedding and engagement rings. It contains 75% pure gold, boasting a vibrant colour and exquisite wear but at a higher cost than 14k gold.

- 22k gold is 91.6% pure gold, offering a vibrant colour but is soft and less suitable for jewellery uses.

- 24k gold, the purest at 99.9%, is seldom used in jewellery due to its softness. It's primarily seen in investment-grade gold bars or used in plating or gilding over other metals.

Note: 24ct gold always comes in a yellow hue; there is no variation. Coloured golds typically max out at 18ct or 20ct. The jewellery colour becomes more yellow as the caratage increases.

Variety of Gold Colours:

Ever observed the diverse colours of gold in jewellery? It's all about alloying. Higher purities give a warm golden colour, while adding copper transforms it into rose gold. White gold, mixed with nickel or palladium, often gets a rhodium plating for a bright white appearance.

In deciphering the golden spectrum, gold emerges not just as a metal but as a symphony of carats, colours, and craftsmanship. So, the next time you admire a gold piece, remember, it's not just about the sparkle – it's the harmonious blend of purity and usability.


1. What are the most common gold karats found in jewellery, and how do they differ in terms of purity?
The most common gold karats in jewellery include 10K, 14K, 18K, and 24K. They vary in purity, with 24K being 100% pure gold, 18K at 75%, 14K at 58.3%, and 10K at 41.7%. Higher karats mean more pure gold, while anything less than 24K is an alloy, affecting characteristics like colour, durability, and malleability

2. How can consumers verify the purity of gold jewellery they purchase?
To verify gold jewellery purity, check for a manufacturer's hallmark indicating the karat. Conduct simple home tests or seek professional advice from local jewellery stores. Home tests include the magnet, skin, porcelain tile, and water tests, while nitric acid testing kits are also an option.

3. How can one care for and maintain gold jewellery to preserve its lustre and longevity?
Keep gold jewellery gleaming by cleaning with mild dish detergent and warm water, and buff it occasionally with a soft cloth. Avoid exposing gold jewellery to soap, chlorine, and other chemicals. Store pieces separately in a fabric-lined jewellery box to prevent scratches. Professional cleaning every six months and removal during high-contact activities ensure lasting luster and longevity.



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