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Not everything that glitters is gold. It could almost be gold, however. It all depends on how much gold the gold contains. This may confuse you, but gold can actually be confusing. In this article we explain what 24K gold actually means!
Gold is one of the very few materials that you can add other things to, and it is still just called “gold”.
Explanation of the fineness of 24 carat gold
Although we refer to all gold by the name “gold”, we must qualify it by adding a subtlety to it.
You will have heard these are expressed as 18 karat gold, 14 karat gold, etc. The number refers to the amount of gold present, and the k stands for “carat”, the standard gauge of fineness for gold.
Technically, almost all gold jewelry made today is a gold alloy. When we talk about fineness, when it comes to gold, we actually mean purity and not every quality assessment of the gold itself. Yellow gold makes up the majority of the gold alloy, but it also contains other metals. These can be silver, copper, nickel, platinum, palladium or others.
Pure gold is not used in modern jewelry for a variety of reasons.
What is 24k gold?
When a system for measuring the purity of gold first appeared, it was on a 24-point scale. These points were called carats. The system is closely related to the carat (alternating current) system for weighing diamonds, but over time has evolved into a measure of purity or fineness rather than weight.
Those of you observant will have noticed that we are talking about 24k gold and that our scale has 24 points. A simple deduction leads you rightly to conclude that 24k gold is actually pure gold. Or as pure as it gets.
|carat||Share gold||Purity Percentage||fineness|
|24 carat||24/24||99.9 (not necessarily 100%)||999|
24k gold is actually not 100% pure. Commercially available 24k gold is actually only 99.95% pure, as 100% purity cannot be achieved. Gold has been refined further, but the practice is not commercially viable and so we consider gold 99.95% or greater to be pure.
Disadvantages of 24K gold
Amethyst and diamond ring, set in 18 carat gold
Gold is expensive. It’s not diamond expensive, but expensive nonetheless. In order to appeal to people with different budgets, manufacturers naturally like to produce suitable products. The only way to do this is to reduce manufacturing costs. And the only way to do that is to reduce the consumption of gold.
As we know, 24k gold is pure, so the other common numbers – 22k, 18k, 14k, 10k – all denote a gold purity relative to 24k. 14k gold, for example, is twenty fourteenth pure or 58.3%. The other 41.7% will be made up of other metals.
Why is 24k gold rarely used for jewelry?
Despite its beauty and high value, 24 karat gold has an inherent weakness and for this reason it is rarely used in jewelry. The problem with 24K gold is that it is a very soft metal.
As a result, the gold is exposed to high levels of wear.
In fact, 24k gold is so soft that a gold ribbon can easily be bent out of shape with your bare hands. We used to see a lot of 24-karat gold wedding rings, but the repair rate was extremely high. In addition to the often deep scratches, many of the tapes were thin on the underside due to constant contact with harder materials in daily use. Eventually the band breaks and demands attention.
You can still buy 24k gold jewelry, but it’s getting less and less common.
24k gold in jewelry
If you’re lucky enough to add 24-karat gold to jewelry, it’s likely antique. It is also likely to show signs of age that you would not see on platinum or silver jewelry of the same age. However, despite the potential pitfalls of owning 24k gold jewelry, the depth and quality of color of the metal is superb.
Due to the other metals in alloys of lower purity, the yellow color fades to a greater or lesser extent. If you put a drop of white paint in a can of yellow paint and stir in, the color will change slightly. It is the same with gold. Adding a white metal to yellow gold will make the yellow tone less vivid. Adding copper to the alloy helps, but is not the same.
Diamonds with warm tones look wonderful in yellow gold. The slight yellow tinge of some diamonds is made clearer by the yellow color of the gold. Colorless diamonds can also look slightly yellow and are therefore not quite as sought after. Colored gemstones also create a very lively contrast to yellow gold. Rubies in particular work very well.
Care of 24k gold jewelry
Despite the softness of pure gold, it’s actually quite easy to clean. If it is a simple wedding ring, warm water and mild soap will do. If it is heavily soiled, for example in the hallmark, you can soak the ring for 20 minutes. This does not harm the ring.
If you have gemstones in the setting, soaking them is not a good idea. Many stones do not respond well to being immersed in water. It is best to be on the safe side and not leave the ring underwater for any time. Instead, use the soap / water mixture and a very soft toothbrush. These are available wherever baby products are sold. Carefully remove the dirt from the ring with the wet brush. Be careful not to apply pressure in case the stones loosen.
If necessary, let the ring dry naturally and then try again. If in doubt, take the ring with you for professional cleaning. Under no circumstances should you ever apply chemicals to your ring. This includes supposed jewelry cleaners that are available. Also, never use an ultrasonic cleaner. These machines use vibration to loosen the dirt, but they also loosen the stones.
With care (and perhaps the occasional repair), any 24 karat gold ring or other piece will last a lifetime.
Would you like to buy 24K jewelry? Feel free to contact one of our jewelry experts. We can recommend and find stunning 24K gold jewelry.
Please try to give us as much information as you can and we will respond as soon as possible.