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The Different Types Of Gold Used For Jewelry

September 20th, 2017

The Different Types Of Gold Used For Jewelry

Written By: Joseph S. Pete, The Times

When you are buying jewelry, especially gold rings, it is important to know all your options and if you are paying the correct price.

Gold jewelry is not pure gold—it's a mixture of metals—meaning it can be alloyed with silver, copper, zinc, and more to create different gold colors. The most popular gold colors include:

  • Yellow Gold: Mixing pure gold with silver, copper, and zinc gives you yellow gold. Yellow gold is hypo-allergenic and requires the least maintenance of all the gold colors.

  • White Gold: Gold and platinum yields white gold, a more durable and scratch-resistant material than yellow gold that is also more affordable.

  • Rose Gold: Rose gold is created when it's alloyed with gold, copper, and silver and is generally the most affordable because the inexpensive copper is what gives it the rose color. Additionally, the copper content makes for a more durable material—more so than yellow or white gold.

Gold Karats

The karat, when buying gold jewelry, lets you know how much gold content the jewelry has, and it should have the manufacturer's trademark next to the karat mark for accuracy. It's important to know that if gold is under 10k, it's illegal to sell the jewelry as "gold." The purest type of gold is 24k, which is 100% pure gold, but it is unusual to find this type as it is a soft metal, meaning it is more likely to scratch and bend. Mixing gold with other elements makes the product more durable and ideal for jewelry purposes.

Anything from 18 karats to 10 karats is ideal for jewelry, with 10k being the most affordable option with 41.7% pure gold content and the rest alloyed with other metals.

Gold Plating

You can find out what type of gold coating jewelry has by looking for the quality stamp on the metal. If there isn't a quality stamp, the gold used may be a mystery. The gold plating options include:

  • Gold Layered: Luckily, there is no Federal standard for "gold layered," which means that a gold layered jewelry piece could have a super thin layer and still be considered made with gold.

  • Gold Leaf: Gold that has been hammered into extremely thin layers, and then wrapped around metal is considered gold leaf. The gold used as thin gold layers/sheets is usually 22K or 24K gold, used to decorate artwork and jewelry.

  • Gold Plated: This process is known as electroplating, which gives the jewel a gold-like appearance and the gold layer needs to me 7 millionths of an inch thick and 10K gold quality or more in order to be considered gold plated.

  • Gold Overlay: This is jewelry with a thicker gold coating, making it more durable over time. The base of a gold overlay is brass, stainless, steel, or copper, and it uses heat and pressure to mix and bond said metals. If the jewelry is considered gold overlay, it has to have a stamp that indicates the plated quality (i.e. "GO" or "R.G.P.").

  • Gold Filled: Gold filled jewelry is when the base metals are brass or copper, and are covered by sheets of gold. It uses the same bonding process as a gold overlay piece, and the gold content must be at least five percent of the total weight. Gold filled jewelry pieces are great for those who have sensitive skin.

  • Vermeil: Vermeil means "gold plated sterling silver," and has a thicker gold layer with sterling silver as the base metal. The sterling silver is a beneficial aspect of vermeil for those who have skin allergies and cannot normally wear gold jewelry. By US law, Vermeil must have a base of sterling silver and must contain a minimum of two microns of gold allow layered in order for it to be considered a vermeil plating.

Take Care

If your jewelry is treated right and cleaned regularly, it can last for years. Make sure you're cleaning your jewelry with a solution of 10-parts warm water and 2-parts dish soap. After the jewelry has soaked, you can use a jewelry polishing cloth for extra shine.

Albert's Diamond Jewelers and Gold

When purchasing jewelry, like gold rings, in Indiana, you should be aware of the type of gold you are choosing and the authenticity of your options. Gold jewelry is a big investment that involves research, speaking to experts, and choosing a reputable jewelry store. At Albert's Diamond Jewelers, we pride ourselves on remaining steadfast in our commitment to creating a warm and personal experience for everyone who walks through our door. Visit us today to make your next purchase or contact us through our website if you have any questions!