Gold, just the word brings to mind value, rarity, wealth, beauty and jewelry. But what is gold? Yes the scientists tell us gold is an element with the chemical symbol Au. We know it is the heraldic metal and it is a rare yellow mineral that is the most malleable and pliable of all metals. Yes, but what does that mean to me? Gold is a beautiful metal that is used to make timeless jewelry. Gold can be bent and molded into elegant engagement rings to show the eternal affection of one person to another. Gold is an expression of love.
Is all gold the same? We hear a piece of jewelry is pure gold or solid gold or 24 karat gold, but what does it all mean? Gold used in jewelry like wedding rings can come in many forms. Basic to understand the uses of gold in jewelry is karat. Karat with a K is the purity of gold, Carat with a C is a measure of weight use mostly in gem weight (one carat is 1/5 gram). Karated gold used in engagement rings can be from 100% gold to as low as 37% gold. Gold’s karat grade is used to express the proportion of gold in an alloy or the quality of a gold alloy. Fine (pure) gold is 24 karat. The proportions in other karat grades are listed in the table below:
|Karat||Parts Gold to Alloy||Percentage||Fineness|
The key to understanding gold karat is the karat value over 24. An example is a 14 karat gold wedding ring. It is 14/24, which equals 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy. In most engagement rings the stamp in the ring is 14k or sometimes 585. Both of those stamps mean the wedding ring is 14 karat gold. So the only pure gold is 24 karat gold which is sometimes called 999 gold.
What does the term solid 14k gold mean? Some engagement rings are advertised as solid 14k gold which means the ring is made out of 14 karat gold not just plated with gold. A plated piece of jewelry has a thin layer of gold over a base or non gold metal. Some plated jewelry has markings that look like real solid gold. For example, a plated piece can be stamped: 14k HGE or 18k GE. HGE means hydrostatic gold electroplating. Plated gold is measured in how many molecules of gold are around the ring. In other words, a plated piece of jewelry has very little gold. You can learn more about gold plating on our FAQ page.
Sometimes engagement rings are stamped 14KP. The 14KP is a marking for plum gold which is a true mix of 14 karat gold. Some governments allow 13.5k to be stamped 14k so the 14KP tells the consumer that this is a true 14 karat mix.
Can there be other colors of gold engagement rings? Yes, Gold is yellow metal but adding copper to gold makes it redder and adding silver, zinc and any other metal makes gold paler. The white color is achieved by a careful choice of the alloying metals, which bleach the deep yellow of pure gold. It is interesting to note that white gold for engagement ring and wedding jewelry was originally developed in the 1920’s as a substitute for platinum. Nowadays, they are jewelry metals in their own right and currently very fashionable and desirable. White gold is available up to 21 karats. Most engagement rings are 14k or 18k. White gold is often used to enhance diamonds and other gemstones. White gold bridal jewelry is increasingly popular.