UNDERSTANDING YOUR METALS
Pure silver, also referred to as fine silver, has actual silver content of 99.9%. Because of its high purity, fine silver is too soft to use in jewellery making and is often mixed with other metals to make it harder.
Sterling silver is an alloy created when copper is added to pure silver in order to make the resulting compound more durable and less soft.
Usually, sterling silver has a purity of 92.5%, meaning that 7.5% of the alloy is made of copper or another metal (usually nickel or zinc).
Although sterling silver is more durable than pure silver, the additional metals in the alloy make sterling silver more prone to tarnishing.This happens because the copper, nickel, zinc or other mixtures in sterling silver may react with oxygen and other elements in the air.
Internationally, sterling silver is marked 925, .925 or 92.5. Jewellery with lower purity is not considered sterling silver.
The Different Carats/Karats of Gold
Carat/Karat (ct/k) is the term used to measure the gold content or purity. Carat/Karat is a unit used to measure the purity of gold. The higher the karatage, the purer the gold.
Here’s a simple guide to understanding the difference between 24k, 22k and 18k gold.
24k gold is also called pure gold or 100 per cent gold. This means that all 24 parts in the gold are all pure gold without traces of any other metals. It is known to be 99.9 per cent pure and takes on a distinct bright yellow color. There is no higher form of gold than 24K and you must be aware of this before you go to a dealer who might tell you that they’re selling you 25K or 26K gold. Since this is the purest form of gold, it is naturally more expensive than 22K or 18K gold. However, this type of gold is lesser in density as compared to gold of a lower karatage which makes it soft and pliable. Hence, it is not suited for regular forms of jewellery.
22K gold jewellery implies that 22 parts of the jewellery amounts to gold and the balance 2 parts are some other metals. This kind of gold is commonly used in jewellery making. In 22K gold, of the 100 per cent, only 91.67 per cent is pure gold. The other 8.33 per cent comprises metals like silver, zinc, nickel and other alloys. It is this addition of metals that make the texture of gold harder thereby making the jewellery durable. However, you must know that although this can be used to make plain gold jewellery, 22K gold isn’t preferable for diamonds and heavily studded jewellery.
18K gold is 75 per cent gold mixed with 25 per cent of other metals like copper or silver etc. Usually studded jewellery and other diamond jewellery is made in 18K gold. This kind of gold is less expensive compared to 24K and 22K. This one has a slightly dull gold colour. Recognizing 18K jewellery is rather simple – you will see the item stamped with 18K, 18Kt, 18k or a variation similar to these. At times, 18K gold is marked by 750, 0.75 or a stamp similar to these in order to symbolise that the jewellery contains 75 per cent gold.
THE DIFFERENT COLOURS OF GOLD
24 karat gold has the natural warm colour of pure gold and its colour cannot be changed without changing the purity to less than 24 k. Other colours of gold can be made by changing the composition of the alloy in the making of the jewellery.
24 karat gold contains 24 parts pure gold. 22 karat gold contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts of other metals added as alloy. 21 karat gold contains 21 parts gold with three parts of other metals added. 18 karat gold contains 18 parts pure gold with 6 parts of other metals added.
24 karat = 100% gold or Pure gold
22 karat = 91.7 % gold
18 karat = 75.0 % gold
14 karat = 58.3 % gold
12 karat = 50.0 % gold
10 karat = 41.7 % gold
White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats.
Rose gold refers to and encompasses the whole family of red, rose and pink gold shades. Pure gold is alloyed with copper to produce the rose color. The more copper used, the redder the gold appears. A common mix—or alloy—for rose gold is 75% gold and 25% copper by mass (18K). Like white gold, since rose gold is an alloy, “pure rose gold” doesn’t actually exist.