We have a lot of terms thrown at us when talking about gold – 14K, 18K, “pure gold,” and many others. But how do you figure out what that means in terms of pure gold value? Gold jewelry is made of an alloy, meaning it has gold, but it is combined with other metals to make it workable (more durable) by a jeweler. This also makes gold jewelry more affordable. The lower the karat number, the less pure gold and the lower the price. Below is a chart showing the percentage of pure gold by karat. If you need a quick primer, 24K = pure gold, so 12K = 50% gold. In the US we typically use 10, 14, 18 and rarely, 22K, but around the world many different alloy variations are used.
For more information about gold alloys, check out our Precious Metal Alloys chart. You can also take a look at our Gold & Silver Purity Markings page for information on the history of the US gold markings law.
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