What Is A Karat? What Are The Different Types Of Gold And What Do They Mean?

A karat is a unit of measurement for gold, that tells you how pure it is.  tells you how much gold is in something.

A karat is equal to 1/24th pure gold.  Two karats being 2/24ths, and so on.

This mean 24 karat gold is as pure as you can get, and can only get this rating if it is 99.9% pure gold.

Everything else is essentially a gold alloy mixture, or just gold on top of some other metal.  An alloy is a mixture of two metals.  If you have an 18 karat gold ring, that means it is 18/24ths (or 75%) pure gold mixed with 25% of some other metal.

The other portion is another metal, and that affects the rest of the gold alloy.

Note that this is different than putting gold onto something.  If you have an 18 karat gold plated bracelet, that means the bracelet has a thin layer of gold plated on top of some other metal.  This does not mean that the bracelet itself is 75% gold.  It means there is a thin gold layer (definitely less than 5% of the total weight), and that thin gold layer is 75% gold.

You may think that this means that you want only pure 24 karat gold, but it really depends.  Although gold is definitely a rare metal, it is also a soft metal.  If you work with your hands a lot, you probably do not want a soft ring that is going to get destroyed and lose all of its value.

cb83097212ba1a09f1382a089e4b2188Besides, there are lots of cool gold alloys, and this is where all of those other types of gold come from.

White gold is a mixture with white metals like zinc, nickle, platinum, or silver.  White gold looks similar to platinum but is more cost effective.


How it looks depends on its karats, however.  Below, you can see an 18 karat white gold ring, that is starting to get a yellow hue.2-11607-237877-art-deco-18-karat-white-gold-diamond-engagement-right-hand-ring-vintage-91fRose gold is an alloy mixture of gold and copper.  Most rose gold is 18 karat, but you can find variable amounts of gold and copper if you look hard enough.  If you drops the karats of gold you will get a darker hue.  If you get more karats of gold, it will have a lighter hue.


With rose gold you have to be careful of oxidation.  This means it could get a brown or green film on it over time.  A simple cleaning can help prevent that and keep it looking brand new.


Gold filled is a little bit thicker than simply gold plated.  Contrary to what it sounds like, gold filled has its gold on the exterior and not the interior.  The interior of something labeled gold filled is usually nickle or brass.  The outside gold portion is generally 18 karat gold.


Gold plated is pretty much the least amount of real gold you can put over the top of something.  Gold plated jewelry is generally on top of steel or brass.  Gold plated jewelry will wear out faster than gold filled.

Gold Vermeil is essentially gold plating, except it has a sterling silver base instead of the usual steel or brass. gold vermeil bracelet

Hopefully this was a helpful guide.  We do not include gold items in our $19.99 subscription boxes, as it is too expensive.  However, we do have people coming to us with fashion advice of all sorts, even though we only deal with men’s fashion accessories, and we still wanted to be able to help.

Let us know what questions you have either here or on Facebook.

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