At Seattle Findings we are often asked about the various karats of gold. Here are the answers to our top 5 most frequently asked questions about gold!
1. What is the difference between white gold and yellow gold?
The metal composition determines the color of gold. Gold is such a soft metal and so valuable, that it is most often alloyed with less valuable metals. The percentage of pure gold determines what karat the gold is marked as.
Red or pink shades of gold are formed when there are high copper contents alloyed with gold. White gold is created when the alloyed metals are white metals, such as: silver, nickel, zinc. To achieve a bright white finish, white gold is often plated with rhodium. Gold is a very versatile metal, since it can be alloyed to appear pink, red, yellow, green, white, and even black! No other metal is alloyed to create such a diverse palette.
2. When would someone use repair solder vs. plumb solder?
Repair solder is most commonly used to repair a piece or used on a piece that has already been worked on by an unknown source. Repair solder has a lower karat(K) of gold than the piece one is working with. For example, 14K repair solder, has a smaller gold content than 14K gold metal.
Plumb solder should be used when creating a piece from its very first seam and should match the carat of the metals being soldered. 18K metal should be soldered with 18K plumb solder, ect.
3. How much gold is in 14K gold? Karatage, denoted by a number followed by “K” indicates purity, or how much of the metal in a piece of jewelry is gold. Karatage is expressed in 24ths, making 24K gold, 100% gold.
We craft our jewelry using both 18K and 14K gold. 18k gold is composed of 75% gold, which is alloyed with other metals to make it strong enough for everyday wear. 14K gold is composed of 58.3% gold and 41.7% of other metals. Both 22K and 24K are most often considered to be too soft for jewelry. The easiest way to mark a piece, is to stamp it with its corresponding karat stamp. 18K necklace, stamped with 18K somewhere on the piece. Just as silver should be stamped with 925, standing for 92.5% silver (the silver content which marks the sterling silver alloy) or the abbreviation of the word sterling as STER.
Different styles of stamps are used with different shaped pieces. For instance, a bent stamp is much easier to make a clean imprint in a ring than a straight stamp.
4. What is an inexpensive alternative to working in gold?
If you still want to achieve a yellow metal color, some alternatives are Nu gold (also called Dix gold), yellow brass, or gold filled (lesser karatage than 10K).
-Rose gold alternative – work in copper!
-White gold alternative – work in silver, nickel, or nickel silver (slightly darker hue than sterling silver).
-To achieve greens and blues, patinas on brass or copper are often the most successful.
– Blacks and browns can be achieved by a wide variety of patinas and tarnishing agents, liver of sulfur is a favorite among many jewelers since it works well on a variety of metals.
5. Can gold ever cause allergic reactions?
Most people are not allergic to gold and do not often have allergic reactions to wearing gold. However, white gold which was created prior to the late 1980s had a greater nickle component than most of what is made today. So many people have a nickle allergy, that most jewelers and jewelry manufacturers have tried to reformulate their white gold alloys to limit the nickle content, thus lowering the instance of allergic reactions. If you are prone to skin sensitivity, platinum in the most hypo-allergenic metal available.
For more information on gold and working with gold, check out Intro to Precious Metals, a favorite at Seattle Findings! (pictured above!)