When it comes to gold, it’s fairly common knowledge that the higher the karat value, the more valuable the piece. Gold in its pure alloyed state however can endure a number of perils. For example it may not react with body chemistry such as plated gold or much of anything the wearer encounters on a daily basis. When high karat gold is generously alloyed with cheaper metals however, it only maintains some of its positive qualities and loses others. It has been proven to happen occasionally that if a piece of jewellery has been gold plated, your skin may turn an unattractive green colour. Also, if you have high acidity in your skin, that can sometimes give the inside of a ring a burnt looking colour.
Is 24-karat too soft?
We mostly think of the higher karats as being too soft to wear. 18-karat gold is a much more dense material which contrary to popular belief, the metal actually takes longer to wear away than lower karats. Purer precious metals like 18-karat and up wear considerably longer, resist stress, and cracking. Lower karat alloys are more susceptible to discolouration which can be due to reacting with the wearer’s body chemistry.
So why bother with lower karat jewellery?
There are many beautiful 10-karat and 14-karat jewellery pieces. Lower karat gold jewellery makes pieces more affordable for customers and if well looked after will certainly pass the test of time. It is always a good idea to have your pieces that have prongs holding stones in place checked by your jeweller, as the prongs (or claws) will wear down over time.
Pure gold is of course yellow in colour. Gold in various colours can be made by alloying gold with other metals in varying amounts. For example, alloys that are mixed 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloy create 14 karat gold (ie – 14/24 equals 0.585).
There are many possible alloys and mixtures. White gold for instance is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal. Because of allergic reactions to the nickel in some white gold alloys, many European countries do not use nickel. For rose gold, copper is alloyed with gold. The higher the copper content, the stronger the red colouration.
Wear what you love!
Don’t worry so much about those ‘must have’ high karat items. In fact, if you find something that you absolutely love but are worried that it won’t stand the test of time – take it from someone that has dealt with gold of all shapes, sizes, and karats that you can’t go wrong with buying a piece you love no matter the karat. Just remember to bring it into Parlour Pawn when you find your next piece.