Frequently Asked Questions About Gold Jewelry

What Is “14 Karat” Gold?

Like fine silver, fine gold is alloyed with other metals to improve strength and durability.  The amount of fine gold used is traditionally measured in karats.  “Pure gold” is represented as 24 karat; the higher the karat value, the greater the amount of pure gold used in the alloy.  In its pure state, gold is quite soft and is rarely used for jewelry.

The most common gold alloys used in the United States are 14 karat and 18 karat.  14 karat gold consists of 58.3 percent fine gold (14/24).  18 karat gold consists of 75 percent fine gold (18/24).

What Are White Gold and Rose Gold?

The color of 14 karat or 18 karat gold will vary depending on what other metal the pure gold is alloyed with. An alloy of copper, silver, and zinc will give gold its most traditional yellow color. Increasing the amount of copper used in the alloy will redden the color of the gold, producing rose gold. A nickel or palladium alloy is used to create white gold.

What Is Gold Filled Jewelry?

Gold filled (or gold fill) jewelry is made up of gold tubing, which is then filled with brass. This gives the item the look and feel of gold jewelry, at a much more affordable price. Gold filled jewelry has about 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry, so the gold surface will never flake, peel, or wear off.

Look for gold filled jewelry that meets 14/20 gold fill standards. This means that the gold tubing consists of 14 karat gold, and that the tubing makes up 5 percent (1/20) of the total metal weight.

Gold jewelry information courtesy of MMA International's Silver Stars Collection.