Gold Karats: Explained

Gold Karats: Explained

Types Of Gold Karat

Gold's karat is the unit used to measure the amount of pure gold in a piece of jewellery relative to the other metals (or alloys) that are present. Understanding gold karats and their different properties helps you make an informed decision when you invest in a new piece of jewellery.

9 Karat

9 karat gold is the karat we use to craft Otiumberg’s fine jewellery collection. 9 karat is the strongest and most hard wearing of all - as our pieces are created to be worn everyday, this precious metal is the most suitable. We responsibly create all of our solid gold pieces from 100% recycled gold.

The subtle, pale yellow of 9 karat gold fits the elegant and understated Otiumberg aesthetic, and 9 karat is also the most affordable of the gold karats, meaning we are able to create your fine jewellery pieces at a more accessible price point.

If you favour a vibrant shade of gold, our gold vermeil collection is crafted from sterling silver with a thick 14 karat gold coating, and so is a little more ‘yellow’ in tone.

12 Karat

12 karat is not currently popular, but used to be most regularly used for gold filled and gold plated jewellery. Created from 50/50 pure gold and alloy, you can identify 12 karat vintage jewellery from a hallmark of ‘400’ or ‘12k’.

14 Karat

14 karat jewellery is popular in both the United Kingdom and United States, where it’s favoured for its vibrant colour and superior durability relative to 18 karat gold. It is also used commonly for vermeil and plated pieces, and all gold vermeil Otiumberg jewellery is made with a coating of 14 karat gold.

18 Karat

Crafted from 75% gold and 25% alloy, 18 karat gold is a little less durable than 14 karat, but a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings due to its hue and high value.

20 Karat

Rarely used today, you might find 20 karat antique jewellery but it is rarely used in the modern jewellery market. It is created from 20 parts pure gold to 4 parts other alloys.

24 Karat

24 karat gold is completely pure gold with no alloys added to it. It is very costly and rarely used for jewellery. Despite its beautiful colour and shine it will scratch and damage easily. 

Which gold karat is best?

The gold you choose really depends on your budget, colour preference and how durable you need the piece to be. We love the practicality of 9 karat gold for durable everyday wear, and 14 karat vermeil for chunkier statement pieces. 

To offer our customers the option that suits them best, some of our signature designs are available in both solid gold and gold vermeil iterations - for instance our personalised gold name bracelets.

What are gold hallmarks?

The hallmarking process has been happening in some form for centuries, as a means of identifying both the purity of a metal and the person who rated it. When you buy a genuine item of solid gold jewellery that weighs over a gram, you will see a small stamp, usually on the inside or another discrete part of the piece.

In the UK we have four assay locations: London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh, where laser etching is used to avoid damaging the gold jewellery. Currently in the UK a hallmark is made up of four types of marks: the manufacturer’s mark, the purity, the assay office and the date of testing. 

What are gold alloys?

Alloys are the additional metals added to gold, in smaller or larger amounts depending on the karat number of the gold (there are more additional alloys in 9 karat for instance, compared to 18 karat). These alloys also give gold its hue - rose gold is created by adding copper to give a pink colour, and white gold by adding nickel or zinc, to give a pale, silvery shade. 

Yellow gold is created with alloys of silver, copper and zinc combined. The combination of sterling silver and gold makes it hypoallergenic and extremely tarnish resistant.

What is gold vermeil?

We use gold vermeil for our chunkier pieces of gold jewellery: a thick layer of 14 karat gold is applied to a base of 100% recycled sterling silver. These beautiful pieces are crafted to last, but with prolonged use this coating can wear over time.

At Otiumberg we design our pieces to be cherished for decades to come, and so we offer a re-plating service in house to keep your Otiumberg vermeil jewellery beautiful indefinitely.

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