The purity of gold starts at 24 karats which represents 100% pure gold and goes down to 9 karats in jewelry. Each level represents a specific percentage of purity which is then mixed with different, generally cheaper metals for hardness. Since the metals used as mixing elements are generally cheaper, you can also see the value of the gold drop as the purity decreases. Most used metals to create gold alloys include copper, silver, zinc, iron, nickel, tin, titanium, and some others as well. Apart from providing strength, the added metals also bring other effects like making the jewelry prone to corrosion, tarnishing, and even causing allergic reactions for some people. The following table shows the purity of gold according to the karat value:
The most recognized color for gold is yellow which is typically found in jewelry made from 18k gold. In this level of purity, the added metals can impact the color of the gold depending on their combination and percentage in the alloy being formed. Some of the most common colors that you can see gold jewelry in have been shared in the table below, along with their metallic combinations:
One more thing to keep in mind is that the less gold there will be, the more it will impact its strength and looks. As you go down in purity, the beautiful yellow shine that gold has starts to fade. This is especially noticeable in jewelry made using 9k and 10k gold. Since the items are less than half gold, you can see a significant change in its color purity and beauty. In addition, the jewelry will also be much more prone to exposure to environmental impacts as the metals mixed in with the gold will react to the environment. However, these jewelry items are much cheaper to buy and can be a good option if you can keep them safe from physical damage and use them with care. Interestingly, there is a polar opposite of this configuration available too now where jewelers are making strong jewelry by mixing 99% gold with 1% titanium.
Pure silver is never used in jewelry making and this is for the same reason as gold; it is just too soft. In fact, it is even softer than gold which is why jewelers do not use it at all. Silver Marks and Fine Silver Content Silver being used in jewelry making is often referred to as Fine Silver and it is basically a grade scale that defines the percentage of purity that the silver has. The purity can be changed to form different alloys, which also impacts how the silver will be used.
Of all the different types of silver, the most popular for making jewelry making is sterling. It has a good purity level while also retaining a reasonable strength to sustain daily wear and tear. On the other hand, silver’s low value also means that the quality acceptance level is much higher when compared to gold. Any alloy with less than 90% silver content in it is simply treated as low-quality. These cheaper versions are particularly popular for making jewelry items to be sold to tourists in Europe, South America, China, and Southeast Asia. Any jewelry made using sterling silver has 925 stamped on it.