The karat mark will tell you that the piece is real and how much pure gold it contains. Pure gold (24K) is rarely used because it is soft and damages easily. Gold is typically mixed with other metals, like silver, nickel, copper and zinc, which makes it more durable. Proportions of these alloys are adjusted to give the gold its green, rose or white tint.
Karats are different than "carats," the weight measure used for diamonds and other gems.
18K gold is 75%, 14K is 58.5%, and 10K is 41.6%. The more karats, the richer the color.
In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally considered and sold as real gold. (In Canada and Mexico, the minimum legal standard of karatage is 9K and 8K respectively.)
Imported gold jewelry is often stamped with a number which is the percentage of gold times 100. The European markings for 14 karat gold jewelry is 585 or 58.5% ,and for 18K is 750 or 75%.
Karat stamped gold jewelry sold in the U.S. must have the manufacturer's trademark. This is known as the hallmark and is required to be there by law. If there is a hallmark, the manufacturer guarantees the accuracy of the karat mark. The country of origin may also be shown.
Check the clasp to make sure it is strong enough to support the chain, especially if there is no hallmark. Feel the chain for rough edges. Quality gold jewelry should be comfortable to wear.
The price of gold jewelry is determined by several factors: karats, weight, design, construction and ornamental detailing like engraving and finish. Most gold jewelry today is created using special machines with some handwork involved. The more handwork there is, the higher the price. Because of modern manufacturing techniques, large, lightweight, and beautiful pieces are more affordable.
Gold has been the inspiration for jewelry since the beginning of time. It's coveted for its gleaming beauty and strong yet malleable nature. Gold will not rust, corrode or tarnish.
Gold is measured in karats, abbreviated as the letter "k" and preceded by a number. 100% pure gold is 24k. However, in its pure form, gold is too soft to be used in jewelry. In order to give it resilience to hold up to everyday wear, gold is alloyed with other metals.
Gold is available in a variety of different karats:
- 22 karat (91.7% gold) While beautiful, it is really too soft for use in jewelry as the gold would literally bend out of shape. You will often see antique 22k gold jewelry in museums.
- 18 karat (75% gold) Excellent for use in fine jewelry with a rich, deep color.
- 14 karat (58.3% gold) Great for use in traditional jewelry.
- 12 karat (50% gold) We do not use nor recommend below 14k as the color is not an attractive, rich hue at this percentage.
- 10 karat (41.7% gold) Although this is the minimum legal karatage allowed to be called gold in the US, we do not use nor recommend it for jewelry.
We offer both 14k and 18k yellow gold settings for our diamond jewelry. If you prefer a deep, rich, golden color, we recommend 18k. Many people also enjoy the traditional color of 14k yellow gold. The choice is entirely up to you.
We offer 14k white gold settings. Although much whiter in color than yellow gold, 14k white gold has a subtle yellow hue because it is made with 58.3% yellow gold. To increase the white color, rhodium is plated over our 14K white gold settings. (Rhodium is a hard, durable, silvery-white metal.) Eventually, the rhodium plating will wear off. Your local jeweler can easily re-plate the rhodium finish on your jewelry to restore its shiny white color.
We offer also an 18K white gold and palladium alloy. The palladium alloy gives the white gold a whiter, platinum-like color. This alloy has the advantage of never having to be plated.
Caring for your gold jewelry
While lasting and durable, gold can become scratched or dented, particularly if handled roughly. Regularly check your gold jewelry for loose prongs or any damage, promptly bringing it to a professional jeweler for repair if needed.
Avoid immersing your gold jewelry in all forms of chlorine, including a pool, hot tub or a household cleaner. Repeated exposure to chlorine can weaken gold's structure, leading to eventual breakage. Soap can build up on gold jewelry causing a dull film and diminishing its gleam. For cleaning, soak gold jewelry in warm water mixed with a few drop of ammonia. Gentle use of an old, soft-bristled toothbrush is useful for more extensive cleaning. After cleaning and rinsing, dry and polish with a soft cloth.
Store your jewelry in a fabric-lined case with separate compartments, or wrap pieces individually in soft tissue paper. Don't take the risk of your jewelry pieces scratching one another.
Platinum is a popular choice for fine jewelry. It is one of the rarest of precious metals, found in only a few locations around the world. Platinum has a rich, silvery-white color that enhances the natural brilliance of diamonds. It is also well known for its superior durability. Over time, gold wears down, becoming thinner and weaker, while platinum retains its strength.
With daily wear, little scratches in platinum create a luster known as patina. This is a special characteristic of this metal, which many people admire. If you prefer, a professional jeweler can polish platinum jewelry back to its original shine.
We use the finest quality platinum in our jewelry. Our platinum is alloyed with either iridium or cobalt, depending on the manufacturer.
Caring for your platinum jewelry
Platinum is extremely durable and resistant to tarnish and discoloration from chlorine and other chemicals. However, as with all fine jewelry, platinum must be taken care of properly.
Store your platinum jewelry in a fabric-lined case with separate compartments; or, wrap pieces individually in soft tissue paper. Take care not to let jewelry pieces come into contact with one another as this can cause scratches, even in platinum.
Use a soft cloth to polish platinum jewelry. For cleaning, soak in warm water mixed with a few drop of ammonia. Gentle use of an old, soft-bristled toothbrush is useful for more extensive cleaning.