How much do you know about the metals in the jewellery you purchased? Let's delve into this topic today with our simple guide to one of the precious metals - gold!
Differences Between Precious Metals and Base Metals
Precious metals are high-end valuables used in fine jewellery. The best-known precious metals are gold, platinum and silver.
Base metals are non-precious metals such as brass, bronze, copper and nickel. They are cheaper alternatives to precious metals used in fashion jewellery.
Gold - The Famous Choice of Precious Metal
Gold is a popular choice of precious metal due to its rich colour, lustre, rarity, and resistance to corrosion. It is highly workable and used for many different styles of jewellery. Gold lasts a long time and retains its value over time.
Pure gold is very soft and bends easily. However, alloying gold with other metals increases its hardness, making it more suitable for jewellery settings. The term "karat" (K) indicates gold purity based on parts out of 24.
24K gold, also known as 999 gold, is the purest form of gold, consisting of 99.9% of gold.
22K gold, also known as 916 gold, consists of 91.6% of gold.
18K gold, also known as 750 gold, consists of 75% of gold.
14K gold, also known as 583 gold, consists of 58.3% of gold.
Alloying gold with other metals produces different gold colours. Yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are the most common gold colours.
Yellow gold: Gold mixed with copper, silver and zinc.
White gold: Gold mixed with white metals such as nickel or palladium, copper and zinc.
Rose gold: Gold mixed with copper and silver.
Plated, Filled and Solid Gold
Although they might look the same, there are huge differences among gold-plated, gold-filled, and solid gold jewellery.
Gold-plated: Base metal coated with a thin gold/gold alloy layer. The gold content is usually less than 1% of the total metal weight of the jewellery. While gold-plated pieces have a gold appearance, the thin layer of gold often wears off over time. Due to the low content of gold, gold-plated jewellery pieces are cheaper than gold-filled or solid gold jewellery.
Gold-filled: Base metal bonded with a thicker layer of gold or gold alloy. The gold content must make up at least 5% of the total metal weight of the jewellery.
Solid gold is made entirely of gold or gold alloy. Solid gold jewellery pieces are the highest in price and value among the three due to the high content of gold.