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What Does Karat Mean? Everything You Need to Know About Gold Purity

What Does Karat Mean? Everything You Need to Know About Gold Purity

Pure gold is simply too soft to make jewelry, so jewelers combine gold with other metals to increase durability, hardness and change the color of the metal. Accordingly, different pieces of gold have different levels of purity. Karat is a measure of purity for gold. As the purity of gold increases, so too does the karat number.

How to calculate karat

The specific formula used to derive karat purity is 24 times purity by mass; 24 karat gold is 99.9% gold. To rate as 24 karat, a 100 gram gold bar could only contain .01 grams of non-gold material in the bar. Or, one karat means the gold in question is 1/24 pure gold. Looking at it this way, 14 karat gold is 10 parts non-gold metals and 14 parts gold.

The history of karat

The word “karat” is actually a derivation of “carat”; the word “carat” can be traced back through several languages, 15th century English, Middle French, Italian, Arabic, and finally Greek. The word is believed to have originated in 309 CE with Roman Emperor Constantine.

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What karat means when selling gold

In the United States, standard karat markings denote different purity levels of gold. Gold items 10-karat and higher will have a “K” or “Kt” stamp. The Federal Trade Commission prohibits marking gold items with an incorrectly high karat number and this practice carries standard legal penalties. This means you can trust the number on your gold. Higher karat gold is more pure than lower karat gold; the higher karat gold pieces will be worth more by weight. When selling gold, it is important to separate different karat pieces. Some unscrupulous dealers will weigh all your gold together and pay at the lowest karat rate. Keep in mind that karat number is not the only indicator of value; a designer or antique piece could be worth more when sold as is instead of being melted down. Keep all this in mind and selling gold will be substantially simplified.

Brad P for Raymond Lee Jewelers, premiere gold jewelry buyer, gold buyer and gold coin buyer.


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