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Understanding Gold Purity: 9K, 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K, 24K, etc.

The stamp on this piece of gold could indicate its intended use and how many, if any, other metals were added to it. Many of us at one point or another will sell gold we bought  from a department store or jewelry store. If you’ve ever gone shopping for jewelry, you have probably heard the word “karat” applied to gold. The higher the karat, the more expensive it will be. But have you ever wondered why? The short answer is that higher karats mean more gold, but there is more to it than that.

What Are Karats?

Karats are the little numbers stamped on a piece of gold in the format of “xxK” or “xxKT.” The numbers refer to the type of gold and to the actual gold content in the particular piece of jewelry.

Here’s more information on karats:

  • A karat is a measurement of the ratio of gold to other metals or alloys.

  • Karats are measured on a scale from 0 to 24.

  • A higher karat number means the piece contains more gold and less other metal content.

  • Other metals and alloys could include copper, nickel, silver, or palladium.

24-karat gold is the purest gold you can buy. Gold is malleable in its pure state, so other metals are added to strengthen it and in some cases to enhance color.

How to Use Karats to Measure Gold Purity

Here is how to use the number of karats to figure out how pure your gold is: If you purchase a ring that is 14K gold, since the  highest amount of karats you can have is 24K, divide the 14 karats by the 24. You will get .583. This means that the gold is 58.3% pure in a perfect world. In reality, jewelry gold purity can vary 10 to 20% (usually toward the lower end). READ MORE…