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How do you calculate the gold content in jewelry?

Gold jewelry never seems to go out of style. It is timeless and valuable regardless of the karat rating. When visiting a jewellers shop you will see items like a 10k gold ring, a 14k gold necklace, an 18k mens gold bracelet, or 24k gold cuff links. Since almost the beginning of civilization gold jewelry has been a measurement of wealth.

The value of gold jewelry can depend on the setting, stones, and most importantly, the purity of the gold. The level of purity (the percentage of pure gold) is measured in karats.

Gold jewelry with a higher karat number has a higher percentage of gold. 24k gold is described as pure gold. An 18k mens gold bracelet would contain 18 parts gold and 6 parts of one or more other metals. A simple calculation would tell you the 18k mens gold bracelet would be 75% gold.

By comparison a 14k men’s gold bracelet would have 14 parts gold and 10 parts of other metals. This means a 14k gold bracelet would be 58.3% pure gold. Following this formula, 12k gold jewelry would be 12 parts pure gold and contain 12 parts of one or more other metals. The 12k gold jewelry item would therefore be just 50% gold. A 10K mens gold bracelet would contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts of other metals (10 + 14 = 24), making the bracelet 41.7% gold. In the USA, 10K gold is the lowest karat rating that can be labelled as gold.

In Europe gold jewelry (jewellery UK spelling) is valued by karats with numbers to indicate the percentage of gold in each item. As an example, an 18k mens gold bracelet would be marked 750 to indicate 75% gold content. A 14k mens gold bracelet would have a 585 marking indicating a 58.5% gold content. The same mens bracelet in 10K gold would be marked 417 indicating 41.7% gold content.

Gold is a soft metal making it suitable for shaping into elegant jewelry items. Jewelers usually mix other alloys such as nickel, copper, zinc and silver with the gold, to give it more strength and durability. Combining these other alloys does affect the color and that is why you can buy yellow gold, white gold, and other gold color variations. Using our earlier example, the percentage of pure gold in an 18k mens gold bracelet would be 18 parts gold to 6 parts of other alloys (metals).

The gold karat weight can range from 1k to 24k. A 1K gold bracelet would contain very little pure gold but would (depending on the alloys used), be strong.  By comparison, our 18k mens gold bracelet would contain much more pure gold (but may not be a strong).

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