Karat Price and Color
Why exactly is lower karat gold less expensive? The lower the karats there are in a piece of jewelry, the less pure gold the item contains. 24 karat gold is pure gold and contains no other metals to strengthen it. The amount of metals or alloy that is mixed in with the gold determines not only the karat of a piece of gold jewelry but the price as well. 10 karat gold is 10 parts gold to 14 parts alloy, adding up to 24 parts total. 14 karat gold is 14 parts gold, 10 parts alloy, while 18 karat is 18 parts gold to six parts alloy.
As the karat number goes lower, the gold becomes stronger due to the addition of the alloy. An added bonus of this strength is that the gold is less expensive because it contains less gold. Currently, pure gold sells for more than $750 an ounce.
Gold jewelry is available in a range of different colors: white, yellow, pink, green, blue and gray. The color of the gold is a result of the metals alloyed with it. Each manufacturer has a slightly different alloy mixture that they use. Even though the colors used are fairly standardized at this point and the amount of gold is regulated, variations still occur. A pair of earrings at one store may be more golden than those of the same karat amount found at a different store.
To obtain yellow gold, generally an alloy of copper is used. Combining nickel, zinc, copper, tin and manganese with gold creates white gold. Pink or rose gold is a mixture of gold, copper and silver. Green gold contains a high level of silver or cadmium to create the hue, while blue gold requires an alloy that includes some iron. Finally, gray gold is crafted using an even higher level of iron alloy mixed with gold.
Higher karat jewelry often does not show the same depth of color that the lower karat pieces do. As long as the item has a stamp or hallmark bearing the karat weight, color variation is simply a difference in the alloy and nothing to be concerned about.
Learn More: Karat Introduction, Karat Strength and Durability
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Gold was first discovered thousands of years ago in its natural state, in streams, which lead to mining all over the world. Its brilliance, natural beauty, great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable to work with. Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself. Today gold is used for jewelry fabrication, industrial application, and medical uses, by governments and central banks and by private investors.
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