The purity of gold is measured in karats, which are expressed in increments of one to 24. Thus, 24-karat gold is pure, 18-karat gold is 75 percent gold and 25 percent alloy, and 14-karat gold is 60 percent gold and 40 percent alloy, and 10-karet gold is 40 percent gold and 60 percent alloy.

Pure 24k gold, while strong, is also very malleable. This malleability makes gold easy to work with, but it also makes it susceptible to abrasions. Alloys are added to gold to give it strength. Common gold alloys are silver, copper, nickel, and zinc. The color of gold will vary with the alloys used. Nickel, copper and zinc produce white gold, which looks similar to platinum. Silver, copper and zinc produce yellow gold. Both types have similar strength and malleability.

The price of gold jewelry depends on karat weight and the quality of the finished piece. When the karat weight is high, the color is brighter and the value of the jewelry increases. However, pure gold (24k) and 22k gold are too soft and easily bent, making them unsuitable for jewelry. Fourteen karat and 18k gold produce the best combination of beauty and durability and are the preferred choice for fine jewelry.

Solid Gold Versus Hollowed-Out Gold

In order to save money, some jewelers hollow out gold rings and other pieces of jewelry. The result is jewelry that is less durable and less valuable. All gold jewelry at Rochester Lapidary Jewelers, including our own custom-made pieces, is constructed of solid gold and feature the finest craftsmanship. The result is jewelry of lasting value and durability.