Gold Education

Gold has been a human fascination since the beginning of recorded history. Gold has been found lining Paleolithic caves dating back to 40,000 B.C., it has been used as the capstone of the ancient Pyramids of Giza, and has even been mentioned in biblical times. It is one of the most enduring of precious metals and is resistant to tarnish, rust, and corrosion. Owning a piece of gold jewelry is like owning a piece of history that will last a lifetime. To help you better select which type of gold suites your needs, Silverandgold.com has created a guide to explain the difference in Purity, Color, and Plating to ensure you find the right piece for you!

 

Purity

Gold purity is the first thing you should look for when shopping for your gold jewelry. Although gold is very strong, it is also malleable- meaning pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry alone for every day wear. Therefore it is usually mixed- or alloyed- with metals like silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to give it strength and durability.

When you’re talking about gold’s purity, you’re talking about how much of the metal in a piece of jewelry is pure gold. The purity of gold is measured using karats which are expressed in 24ths - meaning they are divided into 24 parts. This means 24 karats of gold (also known as 24K Gold) is the purest form with 100% pure gold content. In the US, nothing less than 10K gold can be legally marked or sold as gold jewelry. Silverandgold.com has created the  table below for more information about the purity of gold:

 

Gold Karat

Stamps, Markings

Pure Gold Content

Alloyed Content

Meaning

24K

24K, 24kt, 999

100%

0%

Tends to bend or scratch easily and is too soft for fine jewelry

22K

22K, 22kt, 916, 917

91.7%

8.3%

Tends to bend or scratch easily and is too soft for fine jewelry

18K

18K, 18kt, 750

75%

25%

Ideal for jewelry

14K

14K, 14kt, 583, 585

58.5%

41.5%

Ideal for jewelry

10k

10K, 10kt, 416, 417

41.7%

58.3%

Affordable but not acceptable for jewelry and therefore not carried by silverandgold.com

                                                               

 

Color

Gold color is a factor that changes depending on what type, and how much of an alloy is used to strengthen the gold making it suitable for jewelry. The most common colors for gold jewelry are white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold because they are the most durable, but there is a larger range of gold colors than just that. Gold can be alloyed with various metals like silver, copper, nickel, zinc, palladium, aluminum, and cadmium to create different gold colors. See the table below that silverandgold.com has created for more information about how alloy composition affects the color of gold:

Color Of Gold

Alloy Composition

Yellow Gold

Gold

Silver

Copper

Zinc

91.67%

5%

2%

1.33%

Red Gold

Gold

Copper

75%

25%

Rose Gold

Gold

Copper

Silver

75%

22.25%

2.75%

Pink Gold

Gold

Copper

Silver

75%

20%

5%

White Gold

Gold

Palladium

75%

25%

White Gold

Gold

Palladium

Nickel

Zinc

75%

10%

10%

5%

Gray-White Gold

Gold

Iron

Copper

75%

17%

8%

Soft Green Gold

Gold

Silver

75%

25%

Light Green Gold

Gold

Copper

Cadmium

75%

23%

2%

Green Gold

Gold

Silver

Copper

75%

20%

5

Deep Green Gold

Gold

Silver

Copper

Cadmium

75%

15%

6%

4%

Blue Gold

Gold

Iron

75%

25%

Purple Gold

Gold

Aluminum

80%

20%

 

Yellow gold is the purest color, the most hypo-allergenic, and it was once the most popular of choices for gold jewelry with its warm color. It requires the least maintenance of all gold colors.

White gold is more durable and scratch-resistant than yellow gold. White gold alloys are not truly “white”, so white gold is plated with rhodium which is a platinum group metal. It is more affordable than both yellow gold and platinum, and has become the most popular color for jewelry.

Rose gold is more affordable than the other gold colors because it uses the inexpensive metal copper for its rose color. Due to its copper content, rose gold is more durable than yellow or white gold. It compliments skin tones beautifully, and can be used with a variety of gemstones.

 

Plating

Gold plating is important when selecting your gold jewelry because it describes what type of gold coating the jewelry has. Gold plating defines the lifespan of your jewelry; will it tarnish quickly or be more durable to the elements? To find plating information on your jewelry, you have to look for the quality stamp on the metal. There are several types of gold plating options listed below:

Gold layered jewelry has no federal standard, so it could actually be an extremely thin layer of gold used and usually has a quality stamp of “GL” or “G.L”.

Gold leaf is hammered by hand into extremely thin layers of gold that will be wrapped around the base metal. 22K or 24K gold is normally used in the process called gilding, which is usually found in decorative art or jewelry and noticeable by the irregularities found in the foil surrounding the item.

Gold Plated- Gold Electroplated jewelry has a very thin layer of gold on the surface metal. Gold plating is the process known as electroplating and gives your jewelry a gold-like appearance. The gold used must be at least 7 millionths of an inch thick, and must be of at least 10k quality in order to be specified as “gold plated”. The base metal is usually stainless steel or brass dipped in gold. Gold plated jewelry has a quality stamp of “GP”, “G.P”, “GEP”, or “G.E.P”.

Gold Overlay- Rolled Gold Plated jewelry has a thicker gold coating and is more durable over time. It uses heat and pressure to bond and mix the metals. The gold content must be of at least 10K gold quality, but can be lower than 5% of the total weight. The base metal can be brass, stainless steel, or copper. Gold overlay or rolled gold plated jewelry has a quality stamp of “GO”, “G.O”, “RGP” or “R.G.P”.

Gold Filled jewelry is not actually “filled with gold”. The base metals for this jewelry are usually brass or copper covered by sheets of gold, which makes it relatively safe for people with sensitive skin. It is bonded by heat and pressure to mix the metals together. The gold content must be of at least 10K gold quality, and the gold content must be at least 5% of the total weight. Gold filled jewelry is very durable and the gold layer will not flake or peel off with reasonable care.  Gold filled jewelry has a quality stamp of GF” or “G.F”.

Vermeil is pronounced “ver∙may” and it means gold plated sterling silver. Jewelrs.org is the leading non-profit jewelry association in the United States, and they state that “when the thickness of the karat gold plating is at least 100 millionths of an inch thick, it is referred to as “vermeil,”.   Vermeil jewelry has a thicker coating of gold and uses the base metal of sterling silver. Compared to other gold plated jewelry, vermeil is the better buy because it is ideal for those with skin allergies. Vermeil jewelry is usually not stamped, but there may be a quality stamp reading “vermeil” or it may be marked 925. (The stamp for sterling silver is 925 and stands for 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloyed metals.)

 

* Care for your gold jewelry by gently buffing it with a soft cloth. If your jewelry becomes dirty or has darkened, using warm water, a soft toothbrush, and mild soap, you may clean it. Rinse jewelry thoroughly, and then dry with a soft lint‐free cloth.