what is gold

Much like silver, pure gold is very soft, and gold is usually alloyed with other metals to make a stronger metal before it is crafted into jewelry. Unlike silver, the mixture of metals used to create the alloy also has a significant influence in the color, and the value of the metal.

What is a Carat?

When we talk about the purity of a gold alloy, we usually talk about Carats. The word “carat” dates back to classical times when the ancient Greeks used tiny “carob” seeds to measure small weights. Carat, as used for gold purity not a measure of weight, but represents the proportion of pure gold in a gold alloy. Carat is also used in the same way for platinum alloys. Somewhat confusing is the fact that Carat can also refer to the weight of diamonds.

Carat conversion table

CaratStampMin. %
8.00 333 33.33
10.00 417 41.67
12.00 500 50.00
14.00 585 58.33
16.00 666 66.67
18.00 750 75.00
19.00 792 79.17
20.00 833 83.33
22.00 916 91.67
24.00 999 99.95

This table shows the minimum percentage of gold or platinum in an alloy for some of the most used carat values. The stamp value is usually stamped or engraved into a jewel as a quality label. It represents the millesimal purity, or parts per thousand.

How do you calculate Carats?

Carat purity is measured as 24 times the pure mass divided by the total mass. If you want to calculate an exact carat value u can use the formula stated below.

K = 24 * ( Mg / Mm )
  • K, Carat rating of the material
  • Mg, Mass of pure gold or platinum in the alloy
  • Mm, Total mass of the alloy

    So for a ring that weighs 10 grams in total and has at least 7.5 grams of gold in it the carat rating is:

    K = 24 * ( 7.5 / 10 ) = 18 Carat

    Different gold colors

    So 14K gold is actually only about 60% pure gold, which usually makes it a lot more affordable as well as making it much stronger than 24K or pure gold. What makes up the other 40%? This is where it gets interesting. With gold alloys, the “other” metals in the mixture have a big influence in the color of the metal. The most common gold colors are; yellow, reddish, and white. Mostly these colors are created by adding silver, copper, palladium or platinum respectively to the gold alloy. Palladium or platinum are much more expensive than silver, and close to or more valuable than pure gold, which is why a 14K white gold metal can be almost as or even more expensive as 18K gold.

    There are also some more exotic colors that you might not expect to come from the combination of materials that create them. Below you will find a table that states some of the most common as well as some exotic alloys and their constituents.

    Basic gold & silver alloys
    Sterling SilverWhite Gold (18kt)Yellow Gold (14kt)Yellow Gold (18kt)
    92.5% Silver 75% Gold 58% Gold 75% Gold
    7.5% Copper 25% Palldium or Platinum 25% Silver 12.5% Silver
    17% Copper 12.5% Copper

    Exotic Gold Alloys
    Red gold (18kt)Rose Gold (18kt)Green Gold (18kt)Purple Gold (18kt)
    75% Gold 75% Gold 75% Gold 75% Gold
    25% Copper 22.25% Copper 25% Silver 25% Aluminium
    2.75% Silver

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