A Gold Standard: Karat Color & Technique

February 23, 2011

The story of gold is as rich and complex as the metal itself… Wars have been fought for it, love has been declared with it and I make jewelry from it! While the history behind it, in my eyes is far more complex than I wish to get into throughout this post, I am going to attempt to break it down in some of the most basic terms. There are so many different words associated with gold from color to texture to the number of karats etcetera, but what does all of this really mean??  Today gold’s contribution to society can be found within the Gold Standard and the fact that it is used to set the world’s currency system, but let me keep it somewhat basic before I loose myself here! I want to talk about the following 3 Gold Standards:  Karat, Color and Technique and in this I will explore the following in a 3 post series over the next week:  

Karat- What exactly is a karat really…
Color- The difference between yellow, white, and that elegant soft shade of rose gold…
Technique-  What is gold plated versus gold filled, gold vermeil and solid gold…

The purity of gold is measured in karats, that is, karats describe the exact proportion of pure gold to other metal alloys it may be mixed with. Different alloys are used in jewelry for superior strength, sturdiness and to add a range of color. 24 karat is purest and softest gold you can find, thus its purity makes its more expensive, but this also means it is less durable than gold that is alloyed with other metals. Karats in any given piece of jewelry will tell you what percentage of gold it contains: the higher the number of karats, the greater the value. 
24k – pure gold, 24 parts gold.
18k – 75% pure gold – there are 18 parts gold to 6 parts of another metal or alloy
14k – 58.3% pure gold – there are 14 parts gold to 10 parts of another metal or alloy
10k – 41.7% pure gold – there are 10 parts gold to 14 parts of another metal or alloy

Stay tuned for more on the Gold Standard with the following posts to include all about Color & Technique!!!

80 Years of Dow/Gold Ratio

A flyer for the California Gold Rush

US gold certificate (1922)

Lucky Pot of Gold Ha! 
Panning for gold in California

Original map drawn in 1849 of the Gold Bearing Regions of California 

Gold Mining License c.1853 

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