Gold, a precious metal, in its purest form is a shiny yellow metal and is relatively inactive chemically. It resists tarnish and other changes that would dull the shine of other metals. It also means that gold is hypoallergenic, meaning it will not react with your skin and cause an allergic reaction. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all the metals, meaning that it can be easily worked without breaking.
Because it is extremely soft, pure gold is unsuitable for use as an engagement ring that will be worn everyday. For that reason, other metals, usually silver and copper alloy, are mixed with gold to make gold alloy that is harder and more durable to use for every-day-wear jewelry.
Depending on the amount of the other metals added to the gold, you get 10k, 14k, 18k or 24k gold.
Karat – not to be confused with carat – is a grading system used to indicate the amount of gold in a gold alloy or the quality of a gold alloy:
10 karat (10k) – 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals or 41.67% purity of gold.
14 karat (14k) – 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals or 58.33% purity of gold.
18 karat (18k) – 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals or 75.00% purity of gold.
24 karat (24k) – 24 parts gold and o part other metals or 100% purity of gold.
The higher the gold content, the higher the price, and the softer the gold alloy, the richer gold color. Most engagement rings and wedding rings on the market today are either 14k or 18k gold.
All jewelry is required by law to have a karat grade stamped on it in addition to the trademark of its maker and the country of origin.
Gold is a naturally yellow metal. By mixing yellow gold with some white metals such as silver, palladium, platinum, and zinc alloys creates white gold’s neutral color appearance and shine. This combination makes white gold a tougher metal than yellow gold.
Traditionally nickel was used in white gold. While gold is hypoallergenic, nickel can cause allergic reactions in a sizable portion of the population and is no longer used in most white gold made today.
Metals for Engagement Rings