The purity of gold is measured in karats. The higher the karat amount, the more pure the gold is. If gold is 100% pure, then it is 24 karat gold (24K). In its pure form, gold is soft and malleable, but scratches easily and is unsuited for jewelry wear. Consequently, it must be alloyed with other metals to give it strength. Some of the most common forms of gold alloy include:
- 18K Gold - 18 parts gold, 6 parts other metals by weight (75% pure)
- 14K Gold - 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metals by weight (58.3% pure)
- 10K Gold - 10 parts gold, 14 parts other metals by weight (41.7% pure)
The shade of yellow gold can vary based on the alloy. As the amount of gold increases, so does the brightness of the yellow color. The most historically popular of all three metal shades, yellow gold is easy to maintain for a lifetime of wear.
While not a true metal, white gold looks similar to platinum, and is made from yellow gold and various alloys, including nickel and zinc. It is often plated with Rhodium, a white and reflective metal that provides an excellent protective coating. However, the protective layer of Rhodium will gradually wear off and require re-plating.
Consisting of the entire red, blush, and pink gold shades, rose gold is formed by alloying pure gold with copper. The more copper used, the redder the hue of the gold. Considered to be the most romantic color of metal, rose gold is stronger than both yellow and white gold because of the strength of the copper used.
Some chemicals, including chlorine, can be damaging to gold alloys. To ensure that your gold stays in top-shape, bring it to your local Helzberg Diamonds store any time for a complimentary cleaning and inspection. You can also clean your gold jewelry at home by using a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap with a soft bristled toothbrush.