Gold jewelry is a precious metal that has long been cherished for its beauty, strength, and durability. In many cultures around the world, it symbolizes wealth and power.
Pure gold is very soft, so it’s usually alloyed with other metals to make jewelry. These additions also change its hardness and ductility, melting point, color, and other properties. Alloys with lower karat ratings (such as 14k or 18k) contain more copper and other base metals than pure gold. This makes them softer and more affordable, but not as durable for everyday wear.
The most common alloys are silver, which gives white gold its bright shine, and copper, which creates warm yellow gold. Some people find yellow gold more pleasing to the touch, and it’s a good match for olive and darker skin tones. In contrast, white gold has a more silvery appearance and is more scratch-resistant.
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Some gold jewelry is made from pure 24k, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most gold jewelry is plated with other metals such as nickel, zinc, or copper. These are the cheapest options, but they’re also the most likely to tarnish quickly. Look for the words “gold-plated” or “vermeil” to ensure you’re getting genuine high-quality gold.
Whether you’re looking to buy a new gold piece or cash in that gold bracelet your grandmother handed down, it’s important to understand how much each gram of gold is worth. That way, you can be sure you’re paying a fair price and that the seller isn’t overcharging. A qualified jeweler or coin dealer who buys gold can help you calculate the karat weight and purity (as measured in percent) of your items.