Not all gold is created equal. And as a fine jewelry wearer, you already know that there’s a difference between 10 karats and 18 karats. But while you have probably surmised that the higher the karat the better, there are a lot of jewelry lovers who don’t totally understand how gold quality and classification works. Here at GURHAN, we use 22 karat & 24 karat gold. So, we wanted to create this guide to give you a better understanding of what you’re buying and our commitment to the art and technique of working with pure gold.
The History of Pure Gold
Gold was first used in jewelry as far back as 4000 B.C. — originating most likely in the area today known as Iraq, what we now know as the ‘cradle of civilization.’ Since, civilizations all over the world have been drawn to pure gold, drawn to the precious metal for its rich yellow color, luster, malleability and permanence.
What’s special about 24k — aka pure — gold is that it does not corrode or tarnish, making it the perfect metal for crafting jewelry and other fine objects. Our ancestors have also always loved working with pure gold because it is flexible and easy to work with, but at the same time, incredibly durable. With all of these attractive qualities, gold has been sought after by royalty and peasants alike thanks to its enduring allure.
The Basic Guide to Gold: What You Need to Know
To have a firm grasp on what 24k gold is and what makes it special, you have to understand the universal grading system for gold. With this knowledge, you can get a real grasp on the purity and uniqueness of this metal — not alloy.
What is a karat?
There’s a difference between a carat and a karat. But, it does get confusing because both are abbreviated as a ‘k.’ The difference is quite simple, though. Carat refers to the weight of a jewel, gem, or diamond, whereas a karat refers to the unit of gold purity.
How do you measure a karat?
When it comes to measuring gold with karats, each karat represents 1/24th of a whole. So if you have a piece of jewelry that is stamped 14k, that means your piece of gold jewelry is actually 14 parts gold and 10 parts copper, silver or some other alloy.
Why do we have different gold weights?
Gold is a soft, malleable metal. Because of this, you can have a lot of creativity with gold jewelry making and crafting. But, that also means that the jewelry itself becomes more malleable the higher karat weight it has. Because of this, many jewelers have preferences for the weight of gold they like to work with, as well as their own techniques to accompany it. Working with pure, 24k gold requires its own special techniques. Additionally, the lower the karats in a piece, the less saturated the yellow color and shimmer is. Some jewelers and consumers also have preferences for the hue of their gold, and will opt for different karats to achieve a certain, less saturated color.
The Karat System: What Are The Different Carats?
At GURHAN, we work with high karat 22k and 24k gold. Here, we’re laying out all the differences between pure, 24k gold and gold alloys, which contain gold and other metals.
The Best: 24K Gold
24 Parts Gold — 100% Gold This is the highest karat, and most pure form of gold jewelry. 24k gold is all parts gold without traces of other metals. Because of this, it has a uniquely rich, bright yellow hue. This pureness and rare color makes 24k gold highly desirable, the most expensive, and most often used in fine jewelry. Because 24k gold does not have traces of other metals, the pieces are known for being ‘softer.’ However, it does not make them any less durable, as 24k gold pieces are forged to last a lifetime.
Top-Quality: 22K Gold
22 Parts Gold, 2 Parts Other Metals — 92% Gold This is the second-highest karat level when it comes to gold jewelry. And even though it is only has two parts copper or other alloys, it does affect the color, taking away some of the natural luster only pure gold has. Nonetheless, 22k gold is used a lot in fine and high-end jewelry making because of its high purity level. 22k gold also fetches a higher price tag, making it one of the more exclusive alloys.
High-Quality: 18K Gold
18 Parts Gold, 6 Parts Other Metals — 75% Gold 18k gold is where you can really start seeing how mixing in other metals, like copper or silver, affects the color. While 18k gold still has that warm yellow color, it is nowhere near as vibrant at 22k and 24k gold jewelry. However, having a quarter of the jewelry made with other alloys does make the piece harder, which is why it is usually used on rings. 18k gold is a great choice for people who want high-quality gold jewelry at a lower price point.
Good-Quality: 14K Gold
14 Parts Gold, 10 Parts Other Metals — 58% Gold 14k gold is the highest karat of gold that is still considered good for use in fine jewelry. But, because nearly 40-percent of the weight of the piece is made up of different alloys, you can see a significant difference in the gold hue, shine and saturation. That being said, some people prefer this often cooler hue of gold and opt for it purposefully. 14k is also a great choice for people who desire owning gold jewelry but don’t want to spend as much as they would on 18k or 22k.
12K, 10K and Lower
50% Gold and Lower
Anything less than 14k really starts to blur the line between fine and costume jewelry. While this jewelry does indeed have some small part gold, the rest is made up of other alloys that greatly affect the color, luster and natural quality of the gold itself. This is the least expensive kind of gold jewelry you can buy. It’s also important to note, anything 10k and above must be marked with a stamp, so if you cannot find one, be wary about how much gold is actually in it.
Why GURHAN Only Uses High Karat 22k & 24k Gold
When our founder, Gurhan Orhan, began working with 24k gold, he fell in love with all of its properties — from its luster to its malleability. Dedicated to his craft, he spent years traveling the world to study the ancient art of producing pure gold creations. From hammering techniques to using organic fillers to give hollow forms strength and shape, Gurhan learned from the world’s best metal masters throughout time.
But when he sought to use his teachings and bring his creations to market, many in the industry advised him against it. Some told Gurhan pure hold was too heavy and soft, and that customers would not see the appeal. However, Gurhan knew others would fall also for the amazing color, look and feel just like he had. Now, GURHAN is known the world over for its designs and work with 24k gold.
24K Gold Myths
Today, the West does not widely use 24k gold for a variety of factors. However, it has remained steadfast in places like India, China and the Middle East where it’s adorned for its color and coveted for its investment value.
But here in the West, during the 20th century particularly, 24k gold fell out of favor. Many jewelers at the time did not have access to pure gold, and at the same time, many people were not willing to pay the high price tag for pure gold. On top of that, the rich, bright color of pure gold was not in style. Once pure gold was out of vogue, a lot of myths began circulating about the metal. Here, we want to take the time to dismiss these.
Is 24k gold too soft?
No, not if the right techniques are used like we do here at GURHAN. In fact, when Gurhan traveled the world to learn about working with pure gold, this is exactly what he was investigating — digging up the old-world techniques that have allowed ancient jewelry and objects to last until today. While 24k gold is more malleable, it is not fragile by any means.
24k gold is too yellow
Too yellow? Never. While it is a matter of taste, here at GURHAN we believe the rich color and luster of 24k gold is one of the most beautiful things in the world. We are also proud to say that our work with 24k gold has helped resurrect adoration for this beautiful hue here in the West and in fine jewelry making.
Is 24k gold too expensive?
Because it is pure gold, and not mixed with other alloys, the value of 24k gold is higher than gold alloys with lower karats. But, you have to remember that this is because those other golds have been diluted by much cheaper metals. However, if you appreciate precious metals, incredible craftsmanship and discerning design, today’s 24k gold jewelry is of great value and investment.