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What Should I Consider When Buying Gold Jewelry?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Buying gold jewelry can be a good experience, but it often requires some thought. Gold has different grades and is rated in purity by karat (k) measurement. Generally, the highest grade available is 24 karat, but many people prefer buying jewelry that is rated at 14 karats.

Many wonder why someone would go with the cheaper and technically less pure gold when buying jewelry, but the answer is actually relatively simple. Gold is a very soft metal, and the purer it is, the softer it is. The last thing a person wants is to purchase pieces that are not going to be durable, since gold is expensive.

This is especially the case when a person is buying gold jewelry that might be used for a lifetime, like in a wedding ring or engagement ring. In general, 24 karat gold is simply too soft to use, and it would be prone to bending, scarring, or even breaking. On the other hand, a small necklace that will be worn only occasionally might be made of 24 karat gold, since it won't' experience the same wear and tear.

For even greater durability, 10 karat gold is also available, meaning that the jewelry is almost 50% gold and has other metals bonded to it to keep it stronger. This level of purity can be a good choice for those who cannot afford much, since it is almost always less expensive than 14k gold.

One thing to bear in mind when buying gold jewelry of any karat measurement is the weight of the object. Some rings, bracelets, and necklaces may be hollow. Hollow jewelry tends to be less durable and is likely to be less expensive, although it may be harder to repair if it is bent and could end up with holes in it. Technically, a jeweler should inform the buyer if a piece is hollow, and if the consumer suspects that it might be, he certainly should ask. Hollow jewelry can have some advantages; especially large earrings, for example, may be more comfortable if they are lighter.

Other types of gold jewelry are gold fill, and gold overlay or gold plate. Gold filled jewelry is bonded to other metals, and usually, the layer of gold must be 5% of the total metal. Gold plated or gold overlay are also bonded to another metal, but in this case, the gold content is usually required to be 2.5% of the total weight of the metal.

Buying gold jewelry that contains smaller amounts of gold is certainly less expensive. Shoppers should be wary, however, of the tendency for the gold to wear off if the piece is worn every day. Generally, it is better to invest a little more to have more gold in the ring.

Traditionally, most people think of gold as a yellow colored metal, but additives can be included to change the color. For example, a person could purchase 10k gold in white or gold. A 14k gold piece may be available in white, pink, or yellow. One color may be better suited to the wearer's skin tone than another, and this should be considered when buying gold jewelry.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon332253 — On Apr 27, 2013

Gold prices rise and fall due to worldwide online gold trading. The value of gold depends on the US dollar value.

By anon312248 — On Jan 06, 2013

What does it mean when a gold bar is stamped with a K on it?

By anon311776 — On Jan 03, 2013

If 925 is silver, what does 901 mean on gold?

By anon12804 — On May 14, 2008

Dear sirs

What is the most favorite grade of gold (jewelry, eg. bracelets, necklaces, rings etc) of American (eg. in California)?

By anon12574 — On May 09, 2008

why does the prices of gold rise and fall?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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