As many of you already know, there are different karats of gold available for purchase....But what exactly are they, what do they mean, and how do they affect a piece of Jewelry?
A karat of gold is a measurement of the purity of gold (amount of fine gold) a piece consists of. Most of your jewelry is not made of pure gold (24K), but are mostly 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and even some in between. Any karat gold, other than 24k, has other alloy's combined with it. The amount of these alloys determine what karat a gold is labeled as...and can also determine the color of gold (yellow, white, rose or even green.) The lesser the karat, the lesser amount of actual gold is in a piece.
10k: averagely about 41.7% gold. This karat is more affordable than the ideal 14k or higher because of the lesser gold content. It is also "harder" than the higher karat measurements, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Because of it's hardness, 10k gold is more brittle giving it a much higher chance of cracking or breaking, but not nearly as high as if something was hollow. This will be further explained in the below sections.
14k: stamped 585. 58.33% - 62.50% gold content . This karat is your most ideal for making jewelry. Because it is softer than 10k, it is more liable to bend rather than break making for a much easier fix with less complications. 14k gold also has a very attractive and desirable color and luster to it. It is considered the "ideal karat" of jewelry because of its balance of color and hardness.
18k: stamped 715. 75.00% - 79.16% gold content . This karat is much softer than the previously mentioned karats. Most 18k usually has a distinct "dark yellow" hue to it (as does 22k.) 18k is more expensive because of the fineness of gold it contains making it more rare finding in jewelry.
The higher the karat, the more soft, more pricey and more gold is actually in a piece.
SOLID vs HOLLOW: An EXTREMELY important factor that can determine the integrity (quality) of a piece of Jewelry is if it is solid or hollow.
If a piece is hollow, this allows a piece to be "extremely affordable." However, what most won't tell you is that IT WILL also BREAK VERY MUCH MORE EASILY and not last nearly as long as a piece of solid Jewelry. (There are some types of pieces that are usually needed to be hollow for comfort, such as earrings, that won't also wear as much due to location.)
What's the difference. You can almost tell the difference by weight. A solid piece will be much heavier than a hollow piece of equal size....Now, picture a foam pool noodle. The center is usually solid and cannot be seen threw. Now, picture a piece of pipe; that you can see through the center. That is the difference between the two. The solid is much more durable due to it's density as opposed to the hollow, which can easily break, bend, dent, etc.... (just about all of the undesirable things you want to happen to a nice piece of Jewelry.)
So, when purchasing a piece of jewelry, know the difference. You may know the difference between "saving" money or a piece that will not last very long and purchasing a piece that will last many years.
"Gold....a beautifully lustered metal used in many ways.... for many centuries."