The price of gold jewelry varies depending on the design, craftsmanship and alloys used, but because 24 carats contain more gold than 18 carats, they are generally more expensive. Gold and gold alloys are measured by the percentage of pure gold by other elements. The purest gold is 24 carats, which has 24 of the 24 parts of gold with no other metals present. The next purest gold is 18k, which has 18 of the 24 parts of gold, and 14k and 10 carats follow the same standards.
While jewelers can make gold alloys in any number of carats, 10-, 14-, 18- and 24-karat alloys are the most common because of their appearance and suitability for specific types of gold jewelry. Gold prices on commodity exchanges serve as a guide, but retail prices for 18- and 24-carat gold items tend to be much higher. For example, even if the daily price of gold remains static, it's not uncommon for retailers to outperform gold items by hundreds of more dollars. As an investor, keeping track of the daily price of gold can help you negotiate deals with private buyers and sellers online and at real estate auctions and sales.
Knowing the price of gold can also help you find good prices when retailers have discounts to move inventory or offer discounts for bulk purchases. Knowing what each type of carat means and how that affects the price is crucial when buying gold jewelry. Contrary to popular belief, when you buy a gold engagement ring or other type of jewelry, the metal used for the jewelry is probably not 100% gold. Of the four most common gold purity levels, 10K is the most durable, although it also has the lowest gold content.
On the other hand, 18-carat gold comes in a wide range of colors depending on the other metals that have been mixed with it. Because of these factors, it's very rare for 24-carat gold to be used in engagement rings and other types of wearable jewelry in the United States and other Western countries. Depending on the ratio between pure gold and other alloys, the gold used in engagement rings and other jewelry is generally classified into 10 K, 14 K, 18 K, 22 K and 24 K. Although the terms sound familiar, the karat (k) system used to measure the purity of gold is different from the unit of mass in carats (c) used to weigh diamonds.
Aesthetically, 10-carat gold looks pale, with a significantly less intense yellow tone than 14-carat or 18-carat gold. The gold used for rings, bracelets, watches and other fine jewelry is rarely 100% pure gold but instead comes in a variety of different purity levels. However, 18-carat gold is more popular in jewelry because it mixes with other metals and becomes more durable. Any quantity smaller than 24 carats of gold has been mixed with other metals, such as copper or silver, to form a gold alloy.
This type of gold is by far the most popular choice for engagement rings and other fine jewelry, accounting for about 90% of gold jewelry sales in the United States. Because 18-carat gold is almost pure, there is very little risk that jewelry made with this material will cause skin irritation if you have a nickel allergy. If you prefer something more luxurious and don't mind trading some durability for a more intense gold color, 18-carat gold may be a good option. But 18-carat gold can't be hammered the same way because it's not as pure and has been mixed with harder metals.