Gold jewelry has been popular since the age of the Aztecs. It’s workability, density and luxurious shine are just some of the reasons why we love it so much! When it comes to finding gold jewelry online, however, we see a lot of different phrases thrown around. What does 14k gold actually mean? What’s the difference between a karat and a carat?
Gold is our favorite jewelry material and here’s why it’s so important to know and understand the metal. Keep reading to find the answers to all your questions.
What are Karats?
When we talk about gold, we use the term “karats” a lot. Karats are simply a measure of how pure gold is. 24k gold is 100% pure gold jewelry and at the top of the karat scale, while 9k gold is 37.5% gold and 62.5% metal alloy, at the bottom of the scale.
All grades from 22k gold all the way down to 9k gold are alloys. That means they’re a combination of gold plus other metals. White gold piercing jewelry, for example, is an alloy of gold and a white metal to produce a lighter color earring.
14k gold body jewelry is 58.33% gold. It is the perfect optimum, being more durable than pure gold and looking just as lustrous. Understanding how many karats are in your gold jewelry is important, especially if you’re allergic to nickel as this is often used in a jewelry metal alloy. Find out more about nickel free jewelry here.
If you see the term “carats” about, don’t worry it’s not a typo! Karats and carats are NOT the same things. Carats refer to gemstones, including diamonds and pearls. Gold carats simply don’t exist. Gold karats are the ones you need to look out for when purchasing gold.
14k Gold Jewelry
The problem with pure gold is that it’s incredibly expensive and is easily scratched. That said, a low karat piece of gold jewelry will be durable yet noticeably less gold in appearance. It then becomes a balancing act of finding jewelry that is affordable, robust and aesthetically pleasing.
By pure gold we mean 24k gold. If you see the term “solid gold jewelry” that usually means that the entire piece of jewelry has gold throughout it, rather than just being plated with gold (more on this later). Solid gold jewelry isn’t necessarily 24k, so make sure to get a karat figure before buying.
Jewelry is often described as “gold” when in actuality, the seller is referring to the color of the jewelry. It’s advisable to always check that it is real gold jewelry and not just a gold colored metal that’s been used.
Our 14k gold body jewelry is more than 50% pure gold, making it durable, lustrous and more affordable. Perfect for everyday wear.
What is Gold Plating?
Don’t panic if you find that your jewelry isn’t marked as high as 14k, or with any karats at all. Real gold jewelry can be plated, meaning there’s a fine layer of gold on the surface of the jewelry rather than gold throughout the jewelry.
The method of gold plating that results in the highest quality jewelry at an affordable price is micron gold plating. A piece of jewelry like piercing jewelry is made of a base metal, usually brass or sometimes silver, and is then coated with a layer of gold. That layer is usually around 1 micron thick (0.001mm thick!) and can wear down easily if you don’t take good care of your gold piercing jewelry.
Whether your jewelry is plated, pure or a gold alloy, it should have a hallmark to prove its authenticity. Working out what your hallmarks mean is tricky, so we preparing next article about that to make it easier for you - stay tuned.
You don’t need to be an expert to tell if you’ve found real gold jewelry online, just refer back to the tips above every time to feel confident in your gold jewelry purchases.