You might wonder how much your gold is worth, especially if you’ve seen one of those late-night commercials that say, “bring in your gold for cash!” Those sites aren’t a rip-off per se, but they might not give you the best bang for your buck. Going to a jeweler will give you a better idea of what your gold is worth and give you the option to turn that gold into a brand new piece. Here are the basics:
In gold, we use the word karat, with a “k,” to measure pure gold. (Not to be confused with carat, with a “c,” which is used to measure a diamond’s weight)
Pure gold is 24 karats or 24K. You will rarely find 24K jewelry because pure gold is incredibly soft. This makes it easy to mold, but not durable enough for every day use. Most gold jewelry is mixed with other metals to make is stronger. The proportions of these allies are what give gold jewelry its yellow, rose or white tint.
22K gold is 91.7% pure, 18K gold is 75%, 14K is 58.5%, and 10K is 41.6%. In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally considered and sold as real gold. Imported gold jewelry is often stamped with a number, which is the percentage of gold times 100. For example, 14 karat gold jewelry is 585, which is 58.5%.
By law, karat stamped gold jewelry sold in the U.S. must have the manufacturer's trademark to guarantee the accuracy of the karat mark. The country of origin may also be shown.
Price is determined by several factors including karats, weight, design, quality of the jewelry’s structure and any ornamental detailing like engraving. Today’s goldsmiths use machines. However, the more handwork that goes into a piece, the more value that piece has. This is why some old pieces of jewelry are worth so much. Gold isn’t wine. It’s a metal, so it doesn’t get more valuable with age. However, there is an appreciation for the craftsmanship that took place years ago.
Yellow and white are the two most popular colors for gold jewelry. As mentioned before, the color of the jewelry is a combination of the amount of pure gold used and the metal used to give the jewelry strength.
Yellow gold is the traditional color. 14K gold is the standard for use in traditional jewelry is what we typically recommend. 18K gold offers a rich, deep color and some may prefer it for their fine jewelry. We also offer 10K gold jewelry when someone is looking for more durability, generally in mothers' rings and chains.
Although much whiter in color than yellow gold, 14K white gold has a subtle yellow hue because it is made with 58.3% yellow gold. To increase its white color, white gold is plated with hard, silvery-white metal called rhodium. Rhodium plating will eventually wear off, but it can easily be re-plated, a service we offer on-site, to restore its shiny white color. To keep white gold looking its best, it may require rhodium re-plating every 12 to 18 months, depending on wear.
Gold is metal, but unlike the steel around your house, it can be easily scratched or dented. Damaged jewelry loses its value. Here are a few tips to protect your gold.
Check your gold jewelry for loose prongs or other signs of wear. Repair your gold to prevent further damage.
Don’t put your gold in any type of chlorine. This includes pools or hot tubs. Chlorine weakens gold’s structure and can break it.
Avoid wearing jewelry when using dish soap or other household cleaners. Soap residue builds up over time and diminishes the gleam of gold.
To clean gold, soak it in warm water mixed with a few drop of ammonia. Use an old toothbrush to scrub and polish your gold with a soft, dry cloth.
Store your jewelry in a fabric-lined case with separate compartments, or wrap pieces individually in soft paper. Gold can scratch gold, or worse, much harder gemstones could dent your gold.