For more than 6,000 years, humans have been using gold to create jewelry and other decorations.
Today, 78% of the gold mined each year becomes jewelry. But browsing the gold section of your favorite jewelry retailer can be overwhelming.
There are countless types of gold jewelry that use this noble metal in a variety of different ways. This guide will help you to understand the different types of gold available.
The Different Types of Gold Jewelry
Not all types of gold jewelry are equal. These different types of gold jewelry available on the market today have important differences that impact their quality, value, and durability.
Against popular belief, solid gold is not usually 100% gold. The term “solid gold” means that the gold isn’t hollow.
Gold is a very soft metal that you can bend with just your fingers and scratch easily. This does not make for successful jewelry making since it will not hold its shape and has a very yellow color. Instead, the best gold jewelry results when gold is mixed with other metals.
You measure gold purity using karats. Anything that is 10-karat (10K) or higher is considered gold in the United States. 10K gold is 41.7% gold or 10 parts out of 24 gold, and 24K gold is 100% gold.
The majority of gold jewelry that you will come across is not pure gold, but instead gold alloys. This means that the gold is mixed with other metals. Mixing pure gold with other metals allows for a great variety in the color of the jewelry.
In a yellow gold alloy, the gold is mixed with metals like silver and copper to retain the signature yellow color of pure gold.
Copper-based alloys, like rose gold, are increasingly popular and known for their pink hue. If you know more about rose gold, you will be able to choose a higher-quality piece of jewelry.
There are many different types of layered metals that contain gold.
Gold-filled jewelry is the highest quality of all the layered metals. At least 5% of the item’s weight must come from gold alloy to be considered gold-filled. It is created using a process that melts the gold into the base metal, resulting in a very durable product that can last decades.
Gold vermeil contains a base of sterling silver with a layer of gold with a purity of at least 10K. Gold vermeil must contain a layer of gold at least 2.5 microns thick.
Gold-plated jewelry has a much thinner layer of gold over brass or copper. This thin layer is not as durable as some of the other types of layered metals and is usually far cheaper.
Choose the Perfect Piece to Last a Lifetime
With an understanding of the different types of gold jewelry, you can rest assured that the piece you are buying will look as good as new for many years to come.
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