When looking for jewellery or investing in gold, it is important to understand the concept of ‘karat’ and what it means for the purity of gold. In this article, we will explore the meaning of karat and how experts measure the purity of gold to help you choose the right karat for your jewellery.
What is Karat?
Karat is a measure of the purity of gold and represents the percentage of pure gold contained in an alloy. The karat scale ranges from 1 to 24, with 24K corresponding to completely pure gold (or as pure as can be obtained). At 24K, the gold content is at least 99.9 per cent, which is known as fine gold. 24K gold is mainly used in the production of gold bars and gold coins.
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Gold is a remarkably soft and precious metal. Because of its softness, jewellery made from pure gold would be difficult to make and very fragile. To make gold jewellery harder and more durable, gold must be mixed with other metals such as silver and copper. By mixing gold, you can create an alloy that is stronger and more durable than pure gold.
Karat levels: Karat levels indicate the purity and gold content of gold. Here are some common karat levels and their properties:
- 24K GOLD: 24 karat gold is the purest form of gold available on the market. With a purity of 99.9 per cent, 24K gold is considered investment gold or pure gold. Because it is so pure, 24K gold is often preferred by investors and collectors.
- Gold bars and gold coins in 24K are popular choices for those who want real gold of the highest purity. In industry, 24K gold is also used in some technical applications, such as electronics and medical devices.
- 18K GOLD: 18 karat gold is one of the most common choices for gold jewellery. With a purity of 75%, 18K gold consists of a significant amount of pure gold, giving the jewellery a deep and natural yellow colour. 18K gold jewellery is strong, durable and perfect for everyday use. The high purity also makes 18K gold a good choice for gold jewellery such as wedding rings and other symbolic jewellery.
- 14K GOLD: 14 karat gold is a popular currency for gold jewellery, especially in North America. With a purity of 58.5 per cent, 14K gold is durable and less susceptible to scratches and deformation than higher karat levels. At the same time, 14K gold jewellery has a beautiful paler yellow colour, giving it a unique aesthetic appearance. The lower purity of 14K gold also makes it slightly more affordable for those seeking high-quality gold jewellery at an affordable price.
- 9K GOLD: 9 karat gold is the lowest karat content that can be sold as gold in many countries, including Sweden. With a purity of 37.5 percent, 9K gold is the most affordable option for those looking for gold jewellery at a lower price. 9K gold jewellery has a lighter yellow colour and is suitable for everyday use. It is also important to note that 9K gold is more resistant to scratches and damage than higher karat levels, making it ideal for active wear.
To guarantee consumer confidence and ensure the authenticity of gold products, gold must be stamped with a gold hallmark that indicates the karat content and purity of the gold. Gold hallmarks are common and give you important information when buying gold.
Gold hallmarks play a crucial role in determining the authenticity and purity of gold products. These marks give consumers confidence and show that the gold product fulfils specific quality requirements. Here’s a closer look at why gold hallmarks are important and what information you can get by looking at them.
By seeing the number 18 in the image above, we can immediately determine that the ring is made of 75% gold!
By looking at gold hallmarks, you can get important information about the purity, origin and manufacturer of the gold. Here are some common types of gold hallmarks and what they represent:
Karat stamp: A karat stamp indicates the purity and karat content of the gold. For example, you may see marks like “24K” for completely pure gold, “18K” for 18 karat gold, “14K” for 14 karat gold, and so on. The karat stamp confirms that the purity of the gold matches the stated karat content.
- Maker’s mark: The maker’s mark shows who made the gold or jewellery. It can be the initials or logo of the company or manufacturer. This stamp can be useful for identifying and verifying the authenticity of gold jewellery.
- Stamp of origin: The stamp of origin indicates the country of origin of the gold or jewellery. This can be particularly important in confirming the authenticity of imported gold and in avoiding counterfeit products.
- Quality mark: Some countries have specific quality marks that guarantee that the gold has passed standardised quality controls. These stamps can be official hallmarks that guarantee that the gold products fulfil the established quality standards.
Now that you have a better understanding of karat and its importance to the purity of gold, you can make more informed decisions when buying gold jewellery. Be sure to pay attention to the karat content and gold hallmarks to ensure you are buying genuine gold of the desired purity.
Remember that karat affects not only the purity of gold but also its price. Purer gold with higher karat levels tends to be more expensive than gold with lower karat levels. So choose the karat level that suits your preferences and budget.