There was a time when we could walk into a jewelry store and simply buy gold. Gold was gold. But now there is 18 Karat gold, 22 Karat gold, 24 Karat gold and on top of it, white gold, rose gold; but why so many names?
Well, as much as we love pure gold, with its shimmery yellow glamour and the precious metal status, pure gold is not exactly the strongest metal to make jewellery. Gold in its purest state is highly malleable and does not have the strength to make long-lasting jewellery. All of us might have worn one of mom’s gold bangles and gone running just to come back with a dented bangle stuck to our hands. That proves my point.
But the gold that we know from our jewellery isn’t exactly pure. Gold, in its purest form, is super malleable, making it impossible to be crafted into any kind of jewellery items, which is why goldsmiths combine gold with alloying metals like copper to increase its strength. Gold alloys have high strength and resistance, which is important for the structural integrity of the jewellery. The search for a good balance between durability and purity gets us to 18 karat gold.
WHAT IS 18 KARAT GOLD?
Let us take a look at what 18 karat gold jewelry is and the alloying metals(it’s not always copper that is alloyed with gold) it comprises of. We will further take a crash course on how to choose between the 18K gold and jewelry of a higher or lower karat number.
WHAT DOES 18 KARAT GOLD PURITY MEAN?
It is simply the amount of gold an 18 karat ornament contains.
The amount of the precious gold present in the piece of jewelry is measured in Gold Karats. K stands for Karat. This Karat should not be confused with the carat weight of diamonds. It is an entirely different measure. A gold karat is a measure of purity. While the carat in diamonds is the measure of the weight of the diamond. Diamond carats can find its equivalent in grams whereas gold Karat is a proportion.
24 KARAT VS 18 KARAT GOLD. WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Pure gold is 24karats. So if you have a jewellery item that claims to be of 18K gold, it simply implies that the ratio of pure gold in 18 carat gold is 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of an alloying metal or metals. In 24karat gold all parts are gold, all 24 parts.
If you are considering the 18 karat gold percentage, the jewellery will have 75% of gold content. The other 25% usually consists of other metals such as Zinc, Copper, Nickel, etc. The use of additional metal in the jewellery is to make it stronger and to increase and preserve its durability. If the ornament is of pure gold at 24K gold, it will break or bend very easily, making it too impractical to wear.
WHAT TO CHOOSE BETWEEN 10, 14, 18 KARAT GOLD?
Besides 18 K, the most popular Karat of gold used in India has to be the 23k and 22K gold. 24 Karat gold is mostly only commercially used for gold coins and gold biscuits. These are almost never made into ornaments. 23k and 22 K are the ones that make your everyday jewellery like bangles, earrings, necklaces etc.
18 karat gold the next contender with stone studded jewellery made with it. Can you guess why? Because as the karat value drops, there is more alloying metal in the gold. Thereby the gold is stronger and can hold precious stones and bear their weight better. You don’t want to make a ring out of pure gold, stud it with diamonds and lose them the next day! The best bet is to compromise on the purity of gold for strength and endurance.
ALLOYING WITH COPPER
Copper is the most common alloying metal with gold. This is because it has an orangish tint which is very close to the colour of gold. So even if it has a higher amount of alloying metal, it won’t be very far from the colour of gold. But as the alloying metal increases, you can see the colour of the ornament acquiring an orange shade. Some people actually prefer gold with this rustic, reddish tint.
ALLOYING WITH SILVER
Alloying gold with silver is also a common strengthening mechanism. But here as the parts of silver increase, the gold becomes a lot whiter than the yellow gold.
18 Karat gold has many advantages over the jewelry that are made up of lower Karat gold. For instance, it does not carry any allergic reaction since the percentage of alloying metal is lesser. Some people are sensitive towards nickel and other alloys present in the gold.
14 KARAT CRAZE IN EUROPE
10k and 14k gold is not commonly Indian-made. European countries and Americans actually prefer their gold to be 10k or 14k. They enjoy the strength and have a thing for precious stones. 10k or 14k gold jewelry are usually densely encrusted with stones or have a very thin and delicate structure.
The colour and shine are at its best in 18K gold. Whereas the yellowish effect maybe not so intense in 10K or 14K jewelry and there may be a reduction in the lustre of the gold. Buying jewelry of 10K or under it simply means that it is far from pure gold. It is made up of mostly metals other than gold.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 18 KARAT GOLD AND 22 KARAT GOLD?
The classic question: which one is better 18k vs 22k? The answer depends on the purpose and your preference. Are you a person who is more inclined to the value of the gold? Or are you one who wants strong and practical jewelry? For the former, its most definitely 22k, the purer metal. For stronger structure and sturdier jewelry, it has to be 18k.
This is simply because the amount of gold present in a 22K jewelry piece is higher than that of 18K. It is purer and has even more intense colour and of course, a higher in price. But a 22 K gold is also softer and not as durable as 18K.
WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE?
So, if you are searching for some regular wear ornaments, opt for an 18K jewelry piece. It goes a long way in terms of durability.
10K gold is the most common type of gold used in Europe and Asia. After frequent use, it may scratch and show a decreased lustre as it is less resistant than a 14K gold.
A 14K gold is 58.3 percentage of gold and is a favourite in the Western world. It is also often known as 583 gold although we prefer to call it by its simple and chic name, 14K. In the same tone, 18K gold can also be referred to as 750 gold in accordance with the percentage of gold in it.
HOW TO DETECT 18K JEWELRY?
Now here’s the important lesson. In this day and age, it is important to know the purity and authenticity of whatever you are buying, especially precious metals like gold. This is where the karat value is important.
Most of the pieces of jewelry come with a stamped karat number. So, it is quite a cakewalk to recognize an 18K gold stamp. We can easily notice the stamp on the accessory items written as 18K, 14K, 10K, or some other variations of it. It is important to know this because 18karat does not cost as much as 22k does in weight. So you may be overpaying the price if you don’t take the karat value into account.
WHAT IS 18 750 GOLD?
Often 18K gold is carved as 075, or 750 stating that the jewelry contains 75% gold. The value of 14K gold is calculated by multiplying its pennyweight by 583, dividing the current spot gold price by the number of pennyweights per ounce, and then multiply the two values together
Buying an 18K gold is an excellent choice if you are looking for something pure and moderately durable. This kind of alloy is a good compromise between durability and purity.
14 KARAT GOLD, IS IT REALLY CHEAPER?
14K gold is harder and most preferred in terms of durability. If you are sensitive to nickel and copper, then, 14K jewellery won’t be a great match for you. You should choose to go for 18K jewellery as it is less likely to cause any rashes or allergic reactions.
Because of its higher percentage of gold, an 18K piece will fetch a higher price than compared to other jewelry pieces of 10 or 14K. Well, in some cases, monetary value has no say in purchasing decisions. Some take the history, circumstances or sentimental values into consideration in the value of gold. Some seldom consider just the beauty and lustre of the gold ornament.
An 18K gold will be shinier and lustrous than that of 10K or 18K gold. Also the tricky thing about 10k and 14k gold is, they are often heavily stone encrusted and due to its strength go into making some statement pieces of jewellery. These are mostly super delicate and piece of art, really. But the catch is the effort, and the artistic value of these are such that the making charge(the price of crafting the jewelry) is often at par or even higher than its weight in gold. So, you may need to pay for the craftwork on the gold more than the actual value of gold on it.
18 KARAT FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS
If you are in search of some regular wearing jewelry piece, 18K jewelry is ideal compared to 22k. Especially rings, bracelets, necklets, etc. which are prone to get scratched or destroy. But it may be definitely weaker than 10K or 14K jewelry that contains more amount of copper and nickel than that of gold.
Keep your 18K jewelry for special occasions, it will be less exposed to any scratches and remain maintained. Usually studded jewelry and other diamond jewelry are 18K gold. This kind of gold is less expensive than 24K or 22K jewelry. It has a slight dull yellowish colour that makes it easy to recognize.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR 18K GOLD JEWELRY?
1. Gold is often affected by so many harmful chemicals like chlorine or other cleaning agents. Gold is a natural element. Thus, it is highly recommended to remove it while using any chemical. For its prolonged lustre and use, clean your gold accessories in a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap with a soft-bristled brush. When not worn, store your gold pieces in soft cloth bags or in a box to protect them from the elements of daily exposure.
Now that we know what 18karat is, you can really weigh your options well when purchasing jewelry. An 18K jewellery is softer than a 14K, and that is why it is typically considered as a special occasion piece to flaunt. These kinds of jewelry are more expected to be seen at social events or on red carpets. So won’t you save up for your red carpet moment with some 18karats dangling from your ears?
18 karat gold has 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of alloying metal to increase its durability.
The Karat ratio measures the purity of gold. 18karat gold has 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of alloying metal whereas 22karaat gold has 22parts of gold and 2 parts of alloying metal. 18k is, therefore, stronger than 22k but less pure.
18 karat gold has 75% gold, and the rest is an alloying metal like copper, silver or nickel.
The difference between them is the amount of gold and alloying metal present. 18 karat has the highest amount of gold at 75%. 14 karat has 58.3% gold and 10 karat has 41.% of gold.