By Mia Cusack
More than just a price tag difference!
Most of us understand jewellery at an emotional level… we understand how it makes us feel, but little about how it is made and the materials it is made from. In fact, it is common and natural for us to judge a piece of jewellery more by its price tag (with cheaper jewellery being less desirable and more expensive jewellery being more desirable) than by all those confusing numbers! However, there’s a lot more to know about jewellery than just how the price tag makes you feel. Today we explore the differences between 9K, 14K, 18K and 24K gold.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Unlike with gemstones, where karatage refers to weight, in gold the number of karats refers to the purity of the metal. So:
- 24 karat is pure gold
- 18 karat is three quarters pure gold, one quarter alloyed with another metal
- 14 karat is 14 parts out of 24 parts pure gold
- 9 karat is 9 out of 24 parts pure gold
Any of the not-quite-pure gold types may also be gold plated, but this is uncommon.
In the US, 10 karat is quite common, and 9 karat cannot be found. The karatage standards vary across other countries as well.
Should I Buy 24K Gold Jewellery?
24K gold bars are a good investment, if you are looking to overcome the ups and downs of the traditional stock market. However in jewellery terms, 24 karat is almost never used. It is a very soft metal; you can bend it with your hands. Any pieces of jewellery made from 24K gold would be highly vulnerable to becoming misshapen, simply through normal handling!
Should I buy 18K Gold Jewellery?
18K gold jewellery is the purest gold usually used for jewellery. You’ll find 18K gold jewellery in yellow, rose gold (alloyed with copper) and white gold (alloyed with palladium, or in older jewellery, nickel).
18K jewellery is highly purified, holds value well, and yet is durable and long lasting.
In terms of buying jewellery online, you won’t see any difference on a screen between 18K and 9K gold. The difference when you see them in person is minimal, also.
18K gold jewellery has a Vickers scale reading of 125 for hardness – 9K has a largely equivalent reading of 120. However, look for reputable online jewellery stores if you’re buying 18K jewellery. This metal isn’t as robust and flexible as 9K, as so 18K gold rings may bend out of shape more easily than their cheaper cousins, if they aren’t well constructed.
Should I Buy 14K Gold Jewellery?
14K gold jewellery is a great compromise between purity and durability, and is used especially for finely detailed work like bracelet charms.
Should I buy 9K Gold Jewellery?
9K gold jewellery looks almost identical to 18K gold jewellery, has a similar Vickers hardness score is just a little more robust… and also costs much, much less than 18K gold! Additionally, if you are buying rose gold, 9K will have a richer copper colour than 18K rose gold (although the colour of 18K vs 9K white gold is much the same). 9K is a reliable purchasing option from online jewellery stores, giving you plenty of options and the ability to get much larger gemstones or jewellery pieces for your dollar.
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