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When it comes to jewelry, the term “karat” gets thrown around a fair amount. While we take this term for granted, many customers aren’t sure what the term really means, or what’s ideal.
Fortunately, when the details are laid out and communicated, it’s easier than you’d think to find the “best karat” for your jewelry. Unlike other jewelers, we at Braunschweiger know that there’s no perfect karat count for every piece; it can depend on variables including durability, price, and more.
There are differences in these terms that you may not be aware of.
“Carat” is a measurement of weight mostly used in weighing gemstones. For example, the diamond in your ring is measured in carats. The “karat” we’re referring to here is defined as “a measure of the purity of gold.”
The purity of gold is measured on a scale of 24 karats, with 24 karats signifying pure gold. So when you see jewelry that’s described as 24-karat gold, you’re buying a piece of jewelry made of pure gold.
In the United States, the most common purity measures of commercially sold jewelry range from 10 karats, to 14 karats, to 18 karats. You’ll see differences in the purity of popular gold pieces manufactured and sold overseas. For example, 18-karat gold pieces are common in Europe, while 22-karat or 24-karat jewelry is common throughout Asia.
But while these purities are common, that does not necessarily mean they are the “best.”
We’ve found 14-karat gold to be one of the most popular choices in our store. It’s generally an all-purpose, durable gold and the most economical choice. Additionally, white gold is more desired for jewelry construction than yellow gold because the alloys in white gold make the gold stronger. This is useful when it comes to items that need to be held securely, such as the prongs that hold a diamond on a ring.
When making gold jewelry, many designers tend to use 18-karat gold to differentiate themselves. This is very common among jewelers from Europe, whereas jewelers in the United States more commonly use 14-karat gold.
Understanding what “karat” counts mean can shed some light on what purity of gold would be best for you. Let’s take 14-karat gold as an example.
Remember, the scale goes up to 24, so 14-karat gold is a little more than half that. In fact, it’s 58.5% gold, which is easy to determine if you look at it like 14/24ths gold. In this instance, there’s 48.5% alloy in this jewelry, which may be stamped 14K or 585 to easily show the piece’s karat count.
If a piece of jewelry is made with 18-karat gold, it’s 75% gold and 25% alloys. Again, if you look at it like 18/24ths gold, it’s easy to determine the amount of gold in the jewelry.
It depends. The metal alloys used in gold can vary, and can be used to create different properties, such as color or strength. For example, there is no such thing as “white gold,” but is instead regular yellow gold mixed with alloys to take on a whiter color.
When you see rose gold or greenish gold, these golds were made by including various alloys with pure gold to make the desired color.
If you’re getting a lower-karat gold, you’ll pay less, but there are other aspects of lower-karat gold that might make it more beneficial.
For example, the lower the amount of gold (the lower the karat), the harder the gold is. Because the gold is stronger, it can also be thinner and lighter. By the same token, this can also make the gold brittle and more susceptible to damage.
The higher the gold content, the softer the metal. Generally, anything over 20-karat is soft and usually used in thicker, heavier jewelry.
Ultimately, the best karat count is the one that will best meet your needs. Whether you’re shopping for look, price, or durability, there’s a variety of options when it comes to gold.
To learn more about selecting the right type of karat for your jewelry, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about the different types of karats and what’s right for you, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us directly at email@example.com, or simply fill out our contact formand we’ll answer your questions quickly.