When buying gold jewelry, always look for the karat mark. The karat mark or "k" that appears on the back of the piece relates to the level of purity of the metal, and it should be accompanied by other items of important information. These designations assure you that you are buying genuine karat gold jewelry.
By U.S. law, if a karat mark appears, you should also see the manufacturer's trademark to confirm that the karat marking is accurate. The country of origin should also appear. Every piece of gold jewelry should be stamped with a hallmark or trademark of its maker and, sometimes, its country of origin.
If all other variables are equal, the higher the karat, the more expensive the piece is. In the United States, 14-karat gold, or 583 parts pure gold, is the most common standard of quality. Gold karat less than 10k cannot legally be marked or sold as gold jewelry in the U.S. However, lower karat, such as 8-karat gold and 9-karat gold, are popular in other countries.
Below are descriptions of the most common karats used in fine jewelry.
|Gold Karat Purity Table|
24k - too soft for fine jewelry
14k/18k - ideal for fine jewelry
10k - affordable for fine jewelry
24 Karat Gold
This is gold in its purest form. The metal is comprised of 100% gold with virtually no alloy metals. Because it is extremely soft and pliable, this type is not recommended for use in fine jewelry.
18 Karat Gold
This alloy consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. 18 karat gold has been found to be the perfect balance between gold purity and strength. Anjolee’s entire jewelry line can be ordered in 18k White or Yellow Gold.
14 Karat Gold
The most popular for jewelry is 14 karat gold which is 58.3% pure gold. The remaining percentage is comprised of alloy metals. Anjolee’s entire jewelry line can be made in 14k White or Yellow Gold.
10 Karat Gold
This level consists of 41.7% gold. 10 karat gold is the minimum level of purity that can still be considered gold in the United States. It weighs the least when compared to higher karat gold. Anjolee’s entire jewelry line can be made in 10k White or Yellow Gold.
Gold Filled, also called Gold Overlay, refers to a layer of at least 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 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 refers to a gold plating that's been pounded and applied by hand.
Yellow gold is alloyed with copper, zinc and silver. It is frequently used in diamond jewelry and is a classic metal choice. It is malleable, ductile, and generally non-corrosive. In this way, it has a high melting point and is not susceptible to compression.
White gold is alloyed with copper, zinc and nickel. The percentage of gold naturally varies, according to the amount of other metal used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish.
Rose gold, also known as pink gold, is alloyed with copper and, in some cases, silver. The proportions are about one part copper to three parts 24-karat gold.
Gold pricing is based on a number of factors, including karat, gram weight, design, and craftsmanship. The karat and gram weight tell you how much gold is in a piece, but one can’t rely on these alone to determine price. Remember, a price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece.
The jewelry's construction and design are also important factors to consider. The techniques of construction can make a piece more durable and flexible for added comfort. A well-made piece in a classic design provides years of wear and enjoyment. If cared for properly, a well-crafted piece will last a lifetime. Unique design, intricate details, gemstones or a special clasp may also add to the price.
Gold jewelry is produced mainly by machine. Any additional hand finishing or textural interest raises the cost. Depending on this, similar looking pieces may have vastly different price tags. Different pieces may have specific characteristics that make them unique, so look carefully to notice any differences and similarities. Often, it's these small, defining details that give you pleasure through the years. They make your jewelry truly unique and worthy of generations of appreciation in your family.