Precious Metals

The word gold, used by itself, means all gold or it can refer to “pure” gold, meaning 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metal jewelry called alloys to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.

The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen-karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of an alloy metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry.

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