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What is Karat Gold?


            In the jewelry industry, we use terms such as ‘karat’ to refer to gold. Most consumers know that the higher the karat rating, the higher the quality of the piece of gold being purchased. What is not explained at the jewelry counter is EXACTLY what the enigmatic numbers stand for.


            Pure gold is very soft. To illustrate how soft, imagine trying to make a ring out of several sheets of aluminum foil from your kitchen. It certainly wouldn’t hold up very well, and pure gold is three times softer than the foil . To combat this, several other metals are mixed with the gold in order to make it stiffer, yet retain the ductility needed to make a piece of jewelry both strong and wearable.


            Karat is a proportion of pure gold in a particular piece being measured. Pure gold is 24 Karat. A rating of 14 karat is a fraction of 14/24 or 14 parts gold and the other 10 parts other metals.


            By simple division, it is easy to determine the percentage of gold in your jewelry. In 14 karat gold, just divide 14 by 24. It will give you a result of .585, or 58.5 percent gold. European manufacturers will mark 14k gold 585, as this is a more modern mark than the ancient karat designation.



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