Everybody likes a little luxury now and then, and for those who are pierced, there’s nothing sweeter than some solid gold jewelry. How do you sift through all that industry information to get a good deal on a quality piece of jewelry that’s right for you though? Here’s everything you need to know:
Solid gold jewelry comes in several classes separated by “karat weight,” which is basically a system that tells you how much actual gold is in the item. Because real gold is a softer metal, for pieces that require more strength and durability, other stronger metals need to be added. The four most common karat weights for jewelry are 10kt, 14kt, 18kt, and 24kt. Silver, copper, and other metals with a very low instance of allergic reaction are added in with the gold to create these composites, which contain approximately 41.7, 58.5, 75, and 99.9 percent gold respectively.
Of these blends, 14kt and 18kt are most commonly seen for body jewelry, due to the need for strength coupled with the demand for hypoallergenic properties. Some items may also be made of steel or sterling silver with 24kt gold plating. This means that the core of the item is made from the stronger metal, and then a thin coating of 24kt gold is applied to the outside. These items will always be clearly labeled as “gold plated,” to avoid any confusion.
As for the color differences (you may have noticed that there are several different shades of gold), the composite metals that are added to an alloy are what causes the effects on color. Raw gold that comes out of the mine is always yellowish. Rose gold, for example, may be slightly more expensive than other colors because more costly secondary metals, like copper, are blended in to give that rosy tone. Likewise, white gold is given it’s silvery hue through the addition of metals like palladium that have a cooling effect on the shade.
Now when it’s time to pick and choose, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Go for the gold, right?