Goldsmith's Jewelers of Southern Oregon -- Medford Oregon Jewelry Store, Citizen Watches and Watch Repair LaserStar Certified Jewelery Repair Center in Medford Oregon

Know Your Gold

The karat mark will tell you that the piece is real and how much pure gold it contains. Pure gold (24K) is rarely used because it is soft and damages easily. Gold is typically mixed with other metals, like silver, nickel, copper and zinc, which makes it more durable. Proportions of these alloys are adjusted to give the gold its green, rose or white tint. Karats are different than "carats," the weight measure used for diamonds and other gems.

18K gold is 75% 14K is 58.5% and 10K is 41.6%.

The more karats, the richer the color.

In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally considered and sold as real gold. (In Canada and Mexico, the minimum legal standard of karatage is 9K and 8K respectively.)

Imported gold jewelry is often stamped with a number which is the percentage of gold times 100. The European markings for 14 karat gold jewelry is 585 or 58.5%; 18K is 750 or 75%.

Karat stamped gold jewelry sold in the U.S. must have the manufacturer's trademark. This is known as the hallmark and is required to be there by law. If there is a hallmark, the manufacturer guarantees the accuracy of the karat mark. The country of origin may also be shown.

Check the clasp to make sure it is strong enough to support the chain, especially if there is no hallmark. Feel the chain for rough edges. Quality gold jewelry should be comfortable to wear.

The price of gold jewelry is determined by several factors: karats, weight, design, construction and ornamental detailing like engraving and finish. Most gold jewelry today is created using special machines with some handwork involved. The more handwork there is, the higher the price. Because of modern manufacturing techniques, large, lightweight, and beautiful pieces are more affordable.