Here is an often-repeated scenario: A customer brings a piece of "gold" jewelry in to a gold refinery or exchange company because they are in need of a bit of quick cash. As they hand the little piece of jewelry across the counter they say to the person in charge, "I think it's 14 karat gold. Then again… It may only be 10 karats?"

The person behind the counter takes the piece of jewelry and rubs its edge on an abrasive, small stone. Following that, onto the stone, they drip some testing fluid and to say to the eager customer, "Well, there is no doubt, there is definitely some gold in there."

What's the reason for the person behind the counter not saying, "Absolutely. That's 14-karat gold." Or at least offering up some other type of answer that is more definite? Truth be told, or at least hopefully, he's not trying to be deceptive. He might simply be giving his best possible answer. Why is that? With the exception of pure gold – 24 karat gold – other metals are contained in all karat-designed golds. They’re gold alloys.

What's the Deal with Gold Alloys?

What are gold alloys? Is there even such a thing as a gold alloy? Answer: Absolutely, yes there is. But, as far as what a gold alloy is, we're going to have to delve a little bit further and deeper. But why is there so much confusion? First of all, you may not hear the term "gold alloy" used all that much. Other terms are used instead to describe the blending of other metals with gold. Read on.

Alloyed Gold and Its Color

To create 14 karat, 18 karat, or another gold alloy, the color of metal changes depending on the metals blended with gold in its pure form. For example, to create pink gold, you may mix copper with pure gold. To create green or bluish gold, mix in zinc and other metals. Silver, with a combination of other metals, can come into play as well if you're looking for white gold.

The Gold Karat Rating System

24 karat gold and pure gold are, more or less, one in the same. But, here's a bit of additional information regarding percentages of pure gold and karats:

  • 41.7% pure gold is contained within 10 karats
  • 58.3% pure gold is contained within 14 karat gold
  • 75% pure gold is contained within 18 karats
  •  95.6% pure gold is contained within 22 karat gold
  • 100% gold is present in 24 karat gold

So, even though they're not referred to as such, any of those metals are gold alloys (but for 24 karat – that’s GOLD!).

Gold Plating

Wait, things aren’t quite complicated enough yet! Applied to other metals, some of the most common platings are gold alloys. To give gold a white gold appearance, sometimes metals that are not even gold-containing – rhodium is an example – are used!

Not Confused Enough Yet?

But wait, there’s more! In either 14 karat or 18 karat, pink gold can exist. In 20 karat, or 18 karat, white gold can exist – and so on. They can be particularly confusing, all those crazy gold classification terms. If you're looking to settle all the confusion, contacting a knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable gold refinery is your answer.

Feel free to contact us at AGR today to get a free quote on the gold items you’d like to sell.