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In informal language, the phrase “pure gold” is often used to describe something exceptional, authentic, or perfect. However, in the world of gold, pure gold refers specifically to 24-carat gold, which is typically labeled as 999 (99.9% pure). Nevertheless, it raises the question of just how pure this gold truly is and why it isn’t marked as 1000 or 100%.
Is pure gold still pure?
The purity of gold is, in fact, determined by the quantity of gold present in the corresponding alloy and is usually expressed in carats or percentages. The carat number or percentage of gold in a sample determines how much of the alloy is comprised of gold and how much of other metals such as copper, palladium, zinc, silver, or nickel. As mentioned, 24-carat gold is synonymous with pure gold.
However, the sample of 24-carat gold is marked as 999, which indicates that it is an alloy made up of 99.9% gold, not 100%, as one might expect. But why isn’t pure gold 100% pure? The answer lies in the specific nature of the gold industry. It is virtually impossible to eliminate 100% of all additional elements that gold may be exposed to during processing. Moreover, the removal of additives beyond a certain threshold becomes impractical, as the extraction of the last fraction of substances is the most expensive part of the process, and the cost of removing it exceeds the value it adds.
Pure gold and other gold samples
The choice of which gold sample to use for a specific product primarily depends on its intended function. For example, pure gold is not typically used for jewelry as it is a very soft material, and there is a high risk of deformation. Jewelry is usually made of 750, 585, or 375 samples. Similarly, historical coins are also not composed of pure gold, as alloys were added to ensure their durability and wear resistance. Thus, 900 or 917 samples are often used for historical gold coins rather than 999. In contrast, modern gold bullion coins and bars typically carry 999 samples and are produced in the majority of products.
While gold is primarily used to preserve assets, it is also frequently utilized to enrich investment portfolios. As gold has weak correlations with other asset classes and global economic cycles, it offers robust protection against significant losses or sudden market downturns.
In conclusion, the world of precious metals is intricate and multifaceted. The purity of gold, as determined by the content of gold in an alloy, is an essential factor that determines its value and purpose. While pure gold is considered the epitome of gold purity, it is never entirely 100% pure, owing to the nature of the gold industry, making the purity of 24-carat gold at 99.9%.
Moreover, the selection of the appropriate gold sample depends on the intended use of the final product, with various gold alloys used to balance durability, cost, and quality. Regardless of the specific sample, gold continues to remain a crucial asset in preserving wealth, diversifying investment portfolios, and offering protection against economic uncertainty. With its timeless appeal and durability, gold remains a timeless and valuable investment for generations to come.