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Gold Karats Explained

9K vs 14K vs 18K vs 24K Gold

When it comes to gold jewelry, I know it can be difficult to understand the difference between the types of gold, the different number of karats and their actual quality. For instance, what is the difference between a 9K necklace and the same necklace in 18K? Is one better than the other?

In this article I will explain the main differences so that the next time you’re purchasing a piece of gold jewelry you know what to look for and can be confident about your choice.

What are Gold Karats?

A karat is a unit of gold purity. It refers to the amount of pure gold there is in a piece of jewelry. The most common abbreviation for karats is the letter “K,” sometimes “k,” or “kt.”

How Do Karat Measurements Work?

One karat represents 1/24th of the whole gold content in a piece of jewelry. That means 24K gold is 100% pure gold. Anything less than 24K is a mix of pure gold and alloy metals.

Why Is Gold Mixed With Other Metals?

Pure gold is a very soft metal and tends to bend easily. That is why 24K gold is not ideal for jewelry making and is often mixed with harder metals to give it strength and shape.

Common alloy metals include copper, platinum, silver, palladium and zinc.

Gold jewelry comes in various purities:

  • 9K gold is 37.5% pure gold
  • 10K gold is 41.6% pure gold
  • 12K gold is 50% pure gold
  • 14K gold is 58.3% pure gold
  • 18K gold is 75% pure gold
  • 22K gold is 91.6% pure gold
  • 24K gold is 100% pure gold

9K vs 14K vs 18K vs 24K Gold

Is 18K Gold Jewelry Better than 9K?

In most countries, jewelry pieces that have 9 karats of gold or more are considered “solid gold". This means that 9k gold is just as solid as 18K gold, it’s just that 18K has a higher gold purity. Some people might say that 18K isn’t necessarily better quality, it is just more valuable, but I believe that you really get what you pay for. While 18K gold jewelry will last you a lifetime, 9K gold jewelry could tarnish overtime, especially if worn daily. The higher the gold's purity, the more expensive the jewelry piece will be. If you do not want to spend a fortune on 18K or 22K gold jewelry, a 14K solid gold piece is a great option.

Some people even prefer jewelry with less karats because the colour of gold tends to have a much softer shade of yellow.

Shades of Gold

What is 14k Gold Filled?

Gold jewelry has been loved by many for centuries and while it’s easy to love, sometimes paying the price for solid gold can be overwhelming. Luckily, 14K gold filled jewelry is an excellent, affordable alternative to solid gold. Gold filled has a thick layer of solid 14K gold over a brass core. It looks exactly the same as 14K solid gold and is great for most people with allergies or sensitive skin. Gold filled might not last a lifetime like solid gold does, but it is still highly durable, and with proper care, it can offer years of wear at a more affordable price. To know more, check out our article on why we choose to work with 14K gold filled.

14K gold filled jewelry | Inspiration Her

14K Solid Gold vs 14K Gold Filled

14K gold has 14 parts of pure gold and 10 parts of alloy metals. 14K gold filled has a brass core and 14K solid gold on the outside. Gold filled jewelry is required to have a minimum of 1/20th (5%) gold by weight. The 5% gold in gold-filled jewelry may not sound like a lot, but it’s all on the outside and it's plenty to keep your jewelry looking great for years if cared properly.

14K solid gold jewelry is higher quality and more durable than 14K gold filled but it is also a lot more expensive. 

14K solid gold vs 14K gold filled


What is your choice of gold jewelry?
Have you ever owned a piece of 14K gold filled jewelry?
Let us know in the comments!

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Gold Karats Explained