According to Forbes magazine, the coveted gold medals being handed out at this month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics only contain about 6 grams of 24-karat gold. The rest of that medal weight comes from sterling silver, with the medal’s overall value worth about $570 in today’s market. But the awards going to these elite athletes aren’t the only gold objects that aren’t “pure,” and for very good reasons that don’t necessarily include price considerations.
Your Precious Metal Mix
“Pure” gold is 24K or “karats,” a purity measurement that shouldn’t be confused with the “carat” in a diamond which actually refers to the weight of the stone. That 24K ring, at a degree of purity of 99.95+%, might sound prestigious. But the reality is that rings made of pure gold will bend and scratch much more easily because pure gold is a softer metal.
Most wedding bands and engagement rings are probably 14k (58.3% gold) or 18K (75% gold) which means that the gold is mixed with other precious metals to add strength. These rings contain a bit less than 60% gold in order to hold up better with less signs of wear. They’re a perfect compromise for appearance, price and durability.
Gold-plated jewelry means a thin layer of gold is applied (bonded) on top of a base metal such as copper. Gold-plated jewelry will show wear and tear since, over time, the thin outer layer of gold fades and tarnishes. Gold-Filled is a name that’s a bit misleading since the “fill” or core is actually brass, copper or occasionally silver. A thicker gold layer (at least 5% to be considered “gold-filled”) assures longevity of up to 30 years.
A Rainbow of Colors
Yellow Gold is combined with alloys like copper and zinc to add strength. White gold is often combine with palladium, nickel (the nickel makes it harder; palladium is a softer metal) or silver and then covered (plated) with rhodium which gives it the whiter color. Both yellow and white gold can be good for long-term and constant wear.
Silver looks like white gold, and, while less expensive, is a softer precious metal and may tarnish over the years. That’s why “white” wedding rings, which are usually worn daily, are made of white gold or platinum (a rarer metal that’s even more expensive than white gold) instead of silver. “Rose” gold contains copper – the more copper added the stronger the “red” look of the gold.
We could go on and on. If you’re interested in finding your perfect piece of gold jewelry, come on in and speak to the experts at David Craig Jewelers. There’s David himself— he’s got a HEART OF GOLD— and a whole team of certified consultants —they’re also veritable GOLD MINES of information! We’d love to answer your inquiries about gold, diamonds, gemstones, appraisals, or any other jewelry-related questions. You can also give us a buzz at 215-968- 8900.