When browsing Finematter for the newest addition to your jewellery collection you are bound to come across lots of different karats of gold. You may be wondering which karat is the best for jewellery or which karat of gold is the most pure. In this guide we will be detailing the differences between gold karat types giving you everything you need to know, from what the term karat means to which karat of gold is the best fit for you.
What does karat mean?
In relation to gold, the term karat, or “K”, is used to describe the ratio of gold to alloy metals. As pure gold is very soft, alloys like silver, nickel, zinc and copper are combined with gold to improve their durability. The less gold content, the more durable the final alloyed metal will be. The karat system is divided into 24 parts, with 24 karat or 24K gold being the most pure.
How to identify different karat types
9K: 37.5% gold content
9 karat gold has the lowest gold content, consisting of 62.5% alloy metals and is the palest of the gold types. That said, it is the most durable type of gold making it ideal for jewellery as the high alloy content counteracts the softness of gold. The lower gold content also makes 9K gold a much more affordable option, especially if you are beginning your fine jewellery collection. Whilst 9K gold is a smart, economical option it is important to know that it may not be suitable if your skin is sensitive to metals as the alloys used can trigger skin irritations.
10K: 41.7% gold content
10 karat gold is very similar to 9 karat gold, coming in with 4.2% more gold content. As with 9 karat gold, 10 karat gold is paler in comparison to the other gold types but remains a very durable economic choice. Of course, if you are sensitive to metal you may want to avoid 10 karat gold in order to prevent skin irritation.
14K: 58.3% gold content
14 karat gold is a popular choice for jewellery lovers as it ticks all the boxes. Not only is the colour of 14 karat gold more saturated due to the higher gold content, but it also remains very durable. Due to less than half of the gold consisting of metal alloys, 14 karat gold is the perfect affordable choice for jewellery that will last a lifetime and won't irritate your skin.
18K: 75% gold content
Consisting of only 25% alloy, 18 karat gold is the best compromise between purity and practicality. Considered one of the most classic of the gold karats, 18 karat gold is prized for its warm buttery tones that perfectly compliment diamonds and gemstones. Due to the high gold content, 18 karat gold is more susceptible to scratches and scuffs than 9K or 14K gold so it should be carefully looked after especially if you wear your 18 karat gold jewellery daily. For more tips on how to best care for your gold jewellery, check out our aftercare guides here.
22K: 91.6% gold content
Almost pure, 22 karat gold is characterised by its saturated beeswax-yellow colour. With only a trace of alloys, 22 karat gold is the purest of jewellery making gold types. Due to its extremely high purity, 22 karat gold is much softer than the other gold types and therefore less practical when it comes to everyday jewellery as the gold can easily become misshapen. Despite its softness, 22 karat gold remains a sought after choice for jewellery due to its high gold content and material value.
24K: 99.99% pure gold
The richly saturated, deep sunset yellow tones of pure 24 karat gold are unmatched. In its purest form, gold is incredibly malleable making it unsuitable for use in jewellery on its own. If you are keen to get the depth of colour that 24 karat gold exudes you can always opt for a 24 karat gold plated piece. This ensures that your jewellery will have that iconic hue but also retain its shape.
Which karat gold won’t tarnish?
Generally speaking, the higher the karat the more prone to tarnishing it is. This is because of the higher gold content in the higher karat types which makes the gold more soft and susceptible to scratches and scuffs. We suggest not to wear your special 18, 22 or 24 karat gold jewellery daily for this reason, however if you wish to wear these special pieces on a daily basis because they ’re just so beautiful, we recommend taking care of them often so they're always looking fresh. For more tips on how to best care for your gold jewellery, check out our aftercare guides here.
How to pick the right gold karat jewellery
Choosing the right gold karat comes down to a number of factors with the most important being your own personal preference and budget. If you love the warm saturated hues of gold then 18K or 22K might be the best choice for you. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a jewellery piece that is highly durable but won't break the bank, 14K gold would be a better option. You should also consider the type of jewellery item you would like to purchase and how often you are likely to wear it. Whether you opt for 9 karat or 18 karat gold, we are sure you will find your next favourite gold jewellery piece at Finematter.
As you're searching for what jewellery to wear, remember that each piece of jewellery is made to last a lifetime, ensuring lasting memories beyond.