Authored by Tricia Ellis-Christensen and can also be found here: http://nosax.me/YxkvEV
Buying gold jewelry can be a rich experience, but often requires some thought. Gold has different grades and is rated in purity by karat (k) measurement. Generally the highest grade available is 24 karat gold. Most people, however, prefer buying gold jewelry that is rated at 14 karats.
Many wonder why one would go with the cheaper and technically less pure gold when buying gold jewelry. Actually the answer to this is relatively simple. Gold is a very soft metal. The purer it is, the softer it is. The last thing one would want when buying gold jewelry is to purchase pieces that are not going to be durable, since gold is expensive.
This is especially the case when one is buying gold jewelry that might be used for a lifetime, like in a wedding ring or engagement ring. In general 24 karat gold is simply too soft to use, and would be prone to bending, scarring or even breaking. On the other hand, if one is buying goldjewelry in the form of a small necklace that will be worn only occasionally, 24 karat gold is certainly an option.
For even greater durability, one can even choose buying gold jewelry that is 10 karat. This means the jewelry is almost 50% gold and has other metals bonded to it to keep it stronger. 10k gold is also a good choice when buying gold jewelry for those light in the pocketbook. It is almost always less expensive than 14k gold.
One thing to bear in mind when buying gold jewelry of any karat measurement is the weight of the object. Some rings, bracelets and necklaces may be hollow. Hollow jewelry tends to be less durable, and is likely to be less expensive. It may be harder to repair if it is bent, or ends up with holes in it.
Technically, a jeweler should inform one if a piece is hollow. If one is not given this information, one certainly should ask. Hollow jewelry can have some advantages, however. Especially large earrings may be more comfortable if they are lighter.
Other types of gold jewelry are gold fill, and gold overlay or gold plate. Gold filled jewelry is bonded to other metals. Usually the layer of gold must be 5% of the total metal. Gold plated or gold overlay are also bonded to another metal. The gold content is usually required to be 2.5% of the total weight of the metal.
Buying gold jewelry that contains smaller amounts of gold is certainly less expensive. Be wary however, of the tendency for the gold to wear off if one uses these pieces every day. Generally it is better to invest a little more to have more gold in the ring.
Traditionally one thinks of gold as a yellow colored metal. However, the metals that are added to gold can change the color. For example one can purchase 10k gold in white or gold. 14k gold is available in white, pink, or yellow. One color may be better suited to skin tone than another, and should be considered when buying gold jewelry.
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