What is Ley gold? What types of gold are used in Jewelry?
In this article we explain in a simple and clear way the different types of gold that you can find in jewelry. From pure gold, to the so fashionable, gold vermeil.
Even as far back as ancient Egypt, gold has been considered one of the most valuable metals in existence. Today, its value is still highly recognized and precisely because of its high value and scarcity, different alloys have been created in the world of jewelry, first to provide hardness and then to reduce the cost. Do you know them all?
First we need to start talking about pure gold, also known as 24 karat gold. In each gold alloy there are 24 units that we refer to as "carats", when the gold we are buying has 24 carats it means that it is unadulterated gold, that is, 100% pure.
Pure Gold = 24K = 1000 thousandths
It is important to distinguish between the karats of gold, which indicate purity and are represented by a K, and the karats of precious stones, which indicate the weight of the stone and are represented by “ct”, for example , a diamond of one ct.
We must not confuse these two concepts.
As a general rule, the value of gold is proportional to its purity, the purer the greater the value. Therefore, pure gold is the most valuable of all.
BUT! The purest gold is not always the best, depending on the use we want to give it, it will be preferable to use gold with an alloy to achieve greater hardness and resistance.
Did you know that gold is not usually used in its pure state in jewelry?
Gold is often thought of as one of the hardest metals in existence, but in reality, pure gold is very soft and can even be shaped with your fingers. For this reason, in jewelry it has been decided to use an alloy of this metal with others that give it that hardness and resistance that we all know.
% OF GOLD
18 CARAT GOLD
Commonly known as 18K (750) gold or First Law gold. It is the standard in high jewelry throughout the world, in this alloy the minimum necessary percentage of other metals is used, to give it sufficient hardness. It is made up of 75% Gold and 25% other metals, silver, zinc and copper, nickel and palladium are the most common, depending on the color we want to achieve, we will see it later.
18K gold jewelry is stamped or laser engraved with the number 750, representing 750 thousandths of gold and 250 of other metals.
Until a few years ago it was practically the only one used in Spain, either 18k gold was used or gold-plated pieces were offered directly, but it was rare to find less pure gold. With globalization and the entry of brands from other countries, it is increasingly common to see 14K or even 9K gold pieces.
14 CARAT GOLD
14K gold (585) or Second Law gold. It is very common in the United States and is composed of 58.5% Gold and 41.5% other metals. It is stamped with the 585 stamp, representing 585 thousandths of gold.
It is very important that when comparing prices you look at the type of gold, as you can see a 14K gold jewel has 16.5% gold than an 18K jewel of the same weight. The difference is very noticeable and even more so when compared to the next and last most common alloy.
9 CARAT GOLD
9K (375) gold. It is quite common in the UK and Australia and is made up of 37.5% Gold and 62.5% other metals. It is stamped with the 375 stamp representing 375 thousandths of gold.
As you may have already noticed, despite the fact that it is commonly accepted to call 9K Gold "gold", only a little more than a third of the jewel is gold, while the rest, more than 60% of the total They are other metals.
14k and 9k gold alloys, in addition to having a lower percentage of gold, generally have a less intense color and luster
What is white gold and rose gold? The colors of Gold.
Yellow gold alloys are composed of a mixture of pure gold with silver and copper, usually in equal parts. This allows the alloy to continue maintaining the golden color of gold, if the percentage of silver is increased the color will be slightly lighter and if the percentage of copper is increased, a little more pink.
WHITE AND ROSE GOLD
The alloys of white and rose gold are similar to those of yellow gold, the difference is the metals with which pure gold is mixed.
The rose gold is created by combining gold with silver and copper, but with a higher percentage of copper, thus providing that pink tone, the more the proportion of copper increases, the pinker the color, reaching the called "red gold" when only gold and copper are combined.
white gold is the one that generates the most controversy and headaches for jewelers, for a simple reason.
Gold is not white.
To make white gold, gold is alloyed with white metals such as nickel, palladium, platinum, or magnesium. This alloy gives it that pale silver appearance similar to silver, but it always has a slight yellowish color, since, in the case of 18K jewelry, 75% is gold. To fix this, white gold jewelry is plated in a metal called rhodium, which is even more valuable than gold. This metal gives it that shiny silver color that you like so much.
What happens is that the Rhodium layer wears away over time and the yellowish color of the gold underneath appears.
The time it takes to appear depends a lot on the type of jewel, the use and the ph of the skin of each person. Earrings, for example, since they barely have contact with the skin, tend to last many years, but rings tend to lose color faster.
The problem is very easy to solve, it is enough to re-roll the jewel, but it is something to take into account before making the purchase.
In jewelry, numerous gold plating and bathing techniques are also used to achieve the appearance of gold at a more affordable price.
Gold plating is applied to metals such as silver, bronze or copper. The layers of gold that are applied make the jewelry look like gold when in fact what they have is a thin layer.
Gold layers are measured in microns and the more microns the jewel has, the more durable the gold plating will be.
Plating is an electromagnetic or chemical process, heat and pressure cause layers of gold alloy to adhere to metals, although it is usually not applied directly to the parent metal, rather it is applied to an intermediate metal to extend its durability and improve color.
The gold plating has less microns than the plating, this makes it finer and therefore lasts less time. Gold-plated jewelry requires greater care to preserve its characteristics.
In gold baths, the base metal can be any, the most common being brass, copper and silver.
Lately many brands are applying a strategy that we at Secret and You are deeply against. They do not specify the main metal and simply mention gold plating.
For example: Mini earrings, gold plated.
It is much better to say that your jewels are gold-plated than to say that your jewels are made of brass, copper or steel, with a bath.
We think it's great that jewelry with all kinds of metals is offered, but we think it's very important to specify the type of main metal and not just 0.05% gold plating.
In Secret and You you will always see all the characteristics of the product reflected. It is important to specify the type of metal because its value and quality will not be the same, even if both are gold-plated.
WHAT IS GOLD VERMEIL?
We dedicate this section in particular to gold Vermeil, due to the importance it has been gaining lately, due to the rise in gold prices.
For a jewel to be considered gold Vermeil, it must meet two conditions, that the base metal be Sterling Silver and that it be plated with a layer of gold of more than 2.5 microns. It is also sometimes known as Silver Vermeil.
The gold layer in the Vermeil bath is thicker and more resistant than normal gold baths, only the jewels known as "gold filled" have a higher gold content.
It is important to take into account that the base metal of Gold Vermeil is Sterling Silver, which already has an intrinsic value, that although it is not as high as gold, it is a valuable metal and the gold layer is much superior to a normal bathroom, so the price is usually much higher than that of a jewel with a normal bathroom.
Laminated gold is made up of thin sheets of gold alloys glued to a brass core. The method is similar to gold filling but its gold content is much lower. This technique is mainly used in watchmaking.
WHAT IS STERLING SILVER?
As with gold, silver is a relatively soft material, so in jewelry it is often alloyed with other metals to provide hardness.
Pure silver is 999.99 thousandths. Unlike Gold, silver needs a much smaller percentage of other metals, so Sterling Silver has 925 thousandths of silver and 75 thousandths of other metals.
Sterling Silver jewelery comes hallmarked 925 or 925S stamped. The S refers to Sterling Silver, sterling silver in English, which is the same as Sterling silver.
Now that you know all the metals that you can find in jewelry, you can choose the one that best suits what you are looking for. If what you want is a jewel to wear frequently for many years, opt for gold alloys instead of plating, as they will not tarnish. If, on the other hand, what you are looking for is something more affordable to use on a specific occasion, you can opt for gold vermeil or gold-plated jewelry.