Guide to Gold
Gold is a very durable and timeless metal that will not rust, corrode, or tarnish. Jewelers throughout the ages have favored gold over all other metals because of its beauty and ease of workmanship. Gold can be melted and shaped to create any design. It can be alloyed with a number of other metals to increase its strength and make a rainbow of colors. Most common colors, in addition to yellow, are rose and white.

Gold Characteristics and Terms

Gold content is measured in karats, which should not be mistaken with the term carat, used to measure diamond weight. The higher the karat, the greater its gold content and price. The K number is representative of how many parts, by weight, pure gold is contained in 24 parts of the alloy. Therefore, the content of pure gold in the various karats are as follows:

      10k = 10/24 = 41.7% pure gold
      14k = 14/24 = 58.3% pure gold
      18k = 18/24 = 75.0% pure gold
      24k = 24/24 = 100% pure gold

The decision to select 14k or 18k is a matter of personal taste and desire. 14k has the advantages of added strength, but lacks higher gold content and beauty of the rich yellow color found in 18k. When most people think of gold, the image that comes to mind is of a metal with a soft, yellow glow. Indeed, the unrivaled golden hue of this precious metal has been part of its appeal for centuries.

Facts You Should Know - India and Gold in the Marketplace

India is the world's largest consumer of gold and drives world demand for the precious metal. Parents start buying gold jewelry at the birth of a daughter in preparation for the dowry she will need on her wedding day. Indians love gold and the yellow metal is associated with virtually every auspicious occasion, be it wedding, childbirth, new home says Hiroo mirchandani, India jewelry manager at the World gold council. In rural India, gold is a big status symbol where people measure wealth in terms of gold holdings on individuals. Last year India imported 825 tons of gold. But for the gold jewelry connoisseur, there are more shades of gold obtainable than just yellow, and again, they come in a variety hues. The tint the gold takes on depends on the metals it is mixed, or alloyed with.

White Gold

Lately, white gold has become very fashionable. Because of his, a lot of consumers have opted for the cool, contemporary white look over the classic yellow look. White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but is mixed with different alloys to give it its white color. Generally, white gold is created by using a nickel or white gold can be 14k, 18k, or any karat. Because 14k white gold is 58.3% gold, and 18k white gold is 75% gold, white gold will naturally have a light yellowish tint. In the final process of manufacturing white gold is rhodium plated to give it its brilliant white luster. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal, which is extremely hard and durable.  Over time however, the rhodium plating may wear away, shedding light on the slightly yellowish tint of the underlying metal. To keep white gold looking its best, it is recommended that rhodium re-plating occur every 12 to 18 months, depending on wear.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is gold in its natural shade. By leaps and bounds, yellow gold is the most common type of gold used in jewelry. Yellow gold used for jewelry is usually alloyed with copper and silver to strengthen it. The warm glow of yellow gold works with well with any outfit, any skin or body type and any gemstone. The more yellow a piece is depends on its gold content. Generally, 14 karat gold has a brighter yellow than 10 karat gold; 18 karat gold has a deeper yellow than 14 karat gold, and so on and so forth.

Rose Gold

Metal smiths can create gold with a pink, blush like tint by alloying just copper with yellow gold. Experts say mixture lends a soft, flattering effect to the skin.

Green Gold

This alloy is created by mixing silver, copper and zinc to yellow gold. The other types of gold jewelry include gold-filled, gold-plated and vermeil. Gold-filled refers to a layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base (non-precious) metal; the gold content must be at least 1/20th of the total weight of the piece. Gold-plated merchandise has a coating of 10 karat gold or higher applied to a base metal by electrolysis. Vermeil is jewelry that is made by applying a layer of karat gold to a sterling silver base.

The Golden Rules of Care for Your Gold

Proper care for your gold jewelry is important to maintain its lifelong beauty and value. It is wise to remove your jewelry during rugged activities. To keep your gold jewelry clean, soak it in a mild solution of soap and water and gently scrub it with a soft-bristled brush. Always store your jewelry separately in a fabric-lined case or in a box with dividers or separate compartments to avoid scratches or other damage. Be sure to check any diamond settings periodically for possible damage. If you see a loose prong, or if the setting looks out of line, bring it to a professional for inspection right away. The factors that have increased gold's eternal, universal appeal are numerous: Gold is extremely rare - It is approximated that all the gold ever mined would fit underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It takes quite a few tons of ore to produce just one ounce of gold.

Gold is beautiful - Jewelers throughout history have favored gold to all other metals for its warm golden color. The metal also takes well to alloying with other metals, which has allowed metal smiths to create a rainbow of shades for gold. For example, mixing gold with copper creates rose gold; mixing gold with silver creates green gold; and mixing it with palladium produces white gold. Gold is durable - The sheer amount of gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient cultures on exhibit in the world's museums is a testament to the metal's enduring splendor and beauty. It is extremely heavy, with one cubic foot weighing half a ton. Although pure gold is relatively soft, it becomes remarkably strong when alloyed with other metals. Because of its indestructibility, gold is used by the electronics industry to create 10 billion tiny electrical contacts each year.

Gold is pure - Because of this purity, it is not affected by air, heat or moisture and is resistant to tarnish. These properties have helped make gold bullion such a valuable commodity. Gold is extremely malleable - Gold is so easy to work with that a single ounce can be drawn out into an unbroken strand approximately 60 miles long. It can be melted or shaped to create any design.

In the Karat Know

If treated carefully, the gold jewelry item you purchase today could last a lifetime and might even be handed down to future generations. So here are some tips that will help preserve the beauty of your gold jewelry. Gold is so soft and malleable that it can be melted and shaped to create virtually any design. To determine the karat weight of a particular piece of jewelry, look for the quality mark. Generally, pieces will either bear the stamp of their karat age based on the U.S. or European system.
The U.S. system uses karat designations (24K, 18K, 14K, 10K, etc.) Europe uses number designations which correspond to the percentage of gold content.