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Types of Gold Karat

The type of gold karat describes how pure the gold content is. Jewelry lovers will be familiar with seeing gold designs displayed with their karat, which is often seen as a mark of the quality. Understanding the types of karat, what they each mean, and how they can be used to create accessories will help you choose your next special piece.

What is a Gold Karat?

Gold karat is used to describe the gold content of a piece of jewelry, or bullion. Each type of gold karat denotes what percentage of the piece is pure gold, and what percentage contains other metals. Gold purity tends to be given in percentages, whilst karats are given in pre-defined numbers, however they are the same thing. Gold jewelry is rarely 100% pure gold due to how soft the raw material is and hence how prone it is to wear-and-tear.

7 Types of Gold Karat

There are 7 main types of gold karat, ranging from 24k to 10k. They can however be lower than 10k, but this lower purity of gold is extremely uncommon to be seen used in products, especially jewelry.

24k Gold

The first and most pure type of gold karat is 24k. 24k gold refers to 100% pure gold, and so any other type of gold karat is calculated by its percentage out of 24. 24 karat is pure gold and does not have any alloys added to it. Extremely yellow in color, this type of gold karat does not tend to be used for jewelry. Despite its beauty and alluring shine, it is in fact very soft and so does not make for a durable material. You may also see this type of gold karat referred to as 999 gold, in relation to many believing it is 99.9% pure.

22k Gold

22 karat is made of 92% pure gold and 8% alloyed metals. These alloyed metals are often copper, silver, nickel, or zinc. Due to the added alloys this type of gold karat is more durable than 24k gold. However, as with 24k gold, 22k is also not often used in jewelry. A key reason for this is that precious gemstones tend to be heavier than the metal and so the 22k cannot support them.

20k Gold

20k gold is comprised of 20 parts pure gold and 4 parts other alloys. This is equivalent to 83.3% gold and 16.7% alloy. As it is quite rare, this type of gold karat is not often seen on the current market, but can sometimes be found in antique jewelry. So if you're on the hunt for this type of gold, you're going to want to be visiting antique stores!

18k Gold

18k is a popular choice in modern designs, and is what we use in our gold jewelry. This collection is crafted from high quality gold vermeil collection. Made from 75% gold and 25% alloy, you'll find this type of gold karat is more durable than those with a higher purity. This makes it excellent for daily wear. From everyday rings, to contemporary chains, with proper gold jewelry care and cleaning you'll be able to wear your new 18 karat pieces for a lifetime.

With a higher percentage of gold than the types of gold karat below, 18k jewelry is ideal for those who have more sensitive skin. Due to the purer content you're less likely to have a reaction.

14k Gold

58% pure gold and 42% alloyed metals, 14k gold is very durable due to the high alloy content. The alloys also cause this type of gold karat to be a paler yellow than those with more pure gold. Its durability makes it an excellent choice for our 14k yellow gold earrings. Featuring labret earrings and staple studs, you'll adore wearing this gold karat type in your lobe stack.

12k Gold

As with 20k, 12k gold was also more popular in times gone by. It was often used on gold filled jewelry as well as gold plated jewelry. 50/50 pure gold and alloy, this type of gold karat whilst not often used now can often be identified on jewelry by a marking of '12k' or '500' engraved on the piece.

10k Gold

10k gold is the least pure of all 7 types. With only 41.7% being made from pure gold. Due to the high alloy content it is often heavier than higher karat types, as well as being the most durable of all. The higher alloy content does however make 10 karat gold less optimal for those with sensitive skin as it could set off allergies.

Which Type of Gold Karat is the Best?

Each type of gold karat has its own unique uses and so naming the best type is purely subjective. However, when it comes to jewelry it's best to combine purity with durability to find the perfect fit. A karat that is too high will be prone to scratches and wear, which is not something you want from your favorite earrings and most loved bracelets.

Whilst too low a karat loses some of the unique allure of pure gold. For this reason combining the two elements, either 18k or 14k offer the best of both worlds. Not only do you get the rich, yellow tones, but you also get durability that will allow you to style these pieces everyday without worry.

What are Gold Alloys?

Whilst adding alloys to gold is what differentiates the types of karats, it is also what gives us the different colors of gold. For example, rose gold jewelry is created by combining pure gold and copper to achieve that dusty pink hue we've all come to adore. White gold, however, is made when gold is mixed with 25% nickel or zinc. These alloys help give the pale, almost silver tone to this type.

Monica Vinader's Gold Jewelry

We use 2 types of gold karat in our jewelry. Using 18k for our gold vermeil jewelry, which is crafted from sterling silver being coated in a thick layer of gold. Whilst our solid gold jewelry is made from 14k gold and rose gold. Amongst our collection you'll find gorgeous pieces boasting these high quality metals alongside gorgeous precious gemstones. Whether you adore pairing the warm yellow tones against cool, sparkling diamonds, or iridescent pearl pendants, we have the pieces for you.

Sustainable Jewelry with Monica Vinader

We combine sustainable materials, including recycled silver and ethical diamonds to create stunning modern jewelry. Our collection of personalized necklaces, curb chains, and tragus earrings will increase your confidence the moment you adorn them.

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