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Article: Understanding Gold Carats: What They Are And Why They Matter

gold carats

Understanding Gold Carats: What They Are And Why They Matter

For many, many years and for many people, gold has been more than just an aesthetic jewellery accessory; it has represented wealth, class and sophistication throughout our history. No matter the purpose, be it solid gold jewellery, coin collections, or ornaments throughout the home, understanding the carat of gold you own is a must. But what are gold carats, and why does it matter? How are they significant in the world of fashion and accessories, and why, as a consumer, should you care about the gold carats in your collection? Let’s find out.


What are Gold Carats?

The term carat was developed from carob seeds, and carob seeds are historically known for being the method of measurement for gemstone weight. Ct, or Carat, is the way in which we measure how pure our gold alloys are, and it varies on a scale made up of 24 parts. If you are lucky enough to have pieces of 24-carat gold within your jewellery box, this suggests your gold is 100% solid gold, with no mixed metals incorporated into it. The higher the number of carats your jewellery has, the more pure it is. Gold, which is less than 24 carats, typically contains elements of other metals such as copper, silver, nickel, and sometimes even zinc. These metals are combined with varying amounts of gold to improve the strength, lower the costs, and adapt the colour of the piece. 


Example of gold carat:


If your collection features an 18-carat gold necklace, this refers to the piece being 18 parts gold and six parts mixed metals. This is often represented with a percentage or decimal; therefore, in this case, your necklace is 75% gold or .750. You can expect to see this number stamped somewhere on your jewellery for confirmation.


Gold Carats: Why They Matter


Purity & Quality


Solid gold jewellery is exactly that; it’s 100% gold, making it resistant to corrosion and tarnishing resulting in a pure piece that stands the test of time. On the other hand, the lower-carat pieces can sometimes tarnish through everyday activities, especially those involving moisture. 
Jewellery of a higher carat will be a better choice for those with sensitive skin. Mixed metals can cause reactions; therefore, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings of a lower carat may cause some irritation. If you are looking for hypoallergenic, quality and timeless jewellery, the higher the carat, the better.


Durability & Wearability


The purity of solid gold jewellery makes for a long-lasting, timeless piece to add to any collection. Those with 24-carat jewellery in their jewellery boxes often pass these down through generations. Solid gold pieces can last a lifetime with the right care and consideration, unlike your pieces with lower carats. 
That being said, it is important to note that due to the purity of solid gold, it is a softer formulation and, therefore, can be prone to denting. 


Value & Investments


Higher-carat gold is naturally more expensive and sought after, especially for investment pieces. On the other hand, lower-carat jewellery is more affordable, making it a popular choice for many. The choice of carat you opt for will depend on your budget and the reasoning behind your purchase. For those looking to make a lifetime investment, 24-carat is the optimum choice; however, for a fun piece you wear on occasion, a lower carat may be a more sensible financial decision.


Choosing Your Carats


For everyday looks to wear in the office, out and about or at home, you need accessories that can withstand considerable wear; opting for rings, earrings and necklaces from 14 to 18-carat is recommended. This is due to its higher gold content, making it durable but slightly more affordable than 24-carat pieces. However, for more decorative occasional jewellery, higher carats provide a richer, vibrant appeal, offering a more luxurious feeling. 24-carat accessories are used for weddings, gifting, and generational collections not only due to price points but also because of their unmatched quality.

Finding Carats In Your Collection


So now we understand the difference between carats, and why they are significantly important for gold lovers, we need to understand how you distinguish the carats within your jewellery box.


Here are a few ways you can do so:


  • Look for the markings in your piece (i.e., 24k, 99.9% or 999)

  • Check for wear and tear; remember, lower carats may tarnish more easily.

  • The higher the carat, the heavier it will be, so consider the weight of each piece.

  • Seek the advice of a professional - many people opt to take their jewellery boxes to an expert to find out the purity of their collections.


The quality of your jewellery and the carats you own can affect everything from the appearance of your rings and necklaces to their longevity. Whether you're in the process of purchasing an investment piece for your family, choosing the perfect carat for a wedding gift or educating yourself for the future, a clear understanding of carat purity will guide your decisions, ensuring you get the most out of your purchase.

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