Karat Strength and Durability
While your first thought may be that pure gold is best because it is the most valuable, it is in fact not the best choice when it comes to jewelry. Pure gold, or 24 karat gold, is extremely soft and therefore, easily damaged.
Copper and silver are most often added to gold to increase its strength and decrease the chances of scratches or otherwise damaging your piece of jewelry. In addition to making the gold stronger, alloying it with another metal can vary the color of the gold.
The alloy formulas can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Combining these differing formulas can create gold that is unstable or brittle. To avoid this problem it is best to have old gold professionally refined. During the refining process, all alloys that have been mixed with the gold are removed and the gold can then be re-alloyed to whatever karat amount is desired.
No one wants a beloved gold ring or necklace to be scratched or damaged. That is one reason why it is important to pay attention to the karat weight of your jewelry. 24 karat gold should never be used to make jewelry because it is pure gold and is easily damaged. Likewise, anything that contains less than 10 karats of gold cannot be referred to or sold as gold legally.
Many consumers in the United States prefer 14 karat gold because of its durability. Containing 14 parts gold and 10 parts of an alloy metal, 14 karat gold offers a lovely golden color with less worry about scratching, bending or other damage. Items with a higher karat of gold, like 18 or 22 karats, will require a bit more polishing to retain their shine. The piece may also bend if too much pressure is placed on the item. For jewelry, such as rings, that encounter more wear and tear, many people prefer to go with 10 karat gold. This offers even more piece of mind in terms of scratch-resistance and other damage.
Learn More: Karat Introduction, Karat Price and Color
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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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