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Gold & Silver

How Does Gold Fineness Impact The Value of Gold Jewelry?

Sep 22, 2020

Gold Purity & Fineness

Gold is a very popular precious metal found in a variety of jewelry pieces. Gold fineness measures the proportion of pure gold used in an item. If your item has high gold fineness, then it will have also have a high percentage of gold purity. Gold in its purest form is soft which is why you can find gold in a variety of jewelry pieces including gold rings, earrings, necklaces, and more. However, the amount of gold fineness in your jewelry can vary for many reasons.

Why is gold used in jewelry?

Gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements, solid in standard conditions, yet incredibly malleable. Gold is ideal for jewelry because it is easy to work with and yet has properties that keep it from corroding, tarnishing, dissolving, and more.

How many different types of gold are there? 

Regardless of what gold material is being used for, there’s one standard: how much pure gold content is being used? Fortunately, when it comes to gold jewelry, there’s a scale of purity: 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k – the gold standard so to speak. The amount of gold used in jewelry varies so it’s important to know about the different types of gold fineness so you know exactly what you’re getting and what your gold is worth. 

How is gold purity measured? 

Gold is measured in karats, which is a scale of gold fineness used in the United States. Essentially, it is the amount of pure gold alloyed into a piece of jewelry or gold work. Using a standard scale to measure the purity of gold allows jewelers to know the total gold content per 24 parts immediately. For example: 24 karats of gold is 24 parts of pure gold – and as of March 2022, a single gram of pure 24k gold is worth $63.89. The higher the karat amount, the more value your gold is worth.

gold fineness chart

Why is gold alloyed? 

Because gold is so malleable, it often needs to be alloyed with other materials for increased hardness. An alloy is a mix of metals or non-metals used to give the original material desired qualities. In addition to hardness, that might also mean variations in color, such as in the case of white gold and rose gold, lower or higher melting points, and of course, price points.

How are the various levels of gold fineness used in jewelry?

Because of the softness of gold, it is common to see jewelry such as engagement rings set with 14k or 18k gold. With an 18k piece, there are 18 parts of pure gold per 24 parts. The remaining six parts consist of alloy meals, such as silver, nickel, palladium and copper. By using other alloys that are less malleable, the piece of jewelry is less prone to scratches and bending. Most importantly, it ensures the ring setting is unlikely to lose the precious gem that comprises an engagement ring!

How can you test gold fineness? 

There are a few ways of testing the gold fineness of a piece, whether it is gold jewelry, gold coins, or gold bullions. At Samuelson’s, we want to make sure our prices are aligned with the industry standard and the current cost of gold. To do that, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. 

The safest, least potentially corrosive option is to use an x-ray fluorescence gun to measure the gold’s fluorescence. This allows us to determine the material chemistry within the piece so we can accurately gauge its gold fineness. Other tests involve scratching the piece of gold against a testing slab to leave a mark, and then applying nitric acid to the mark to see if it dissolves.

Gold Purity Test

Buying and Selling Gold 

Whether you’re buying or selling gold, Samuelson’s will always confirm the true fineness of your gold’s content. We want you to leave feeling like a member of our family. That’s why we will always tell you exactly what we’re working with and take as much time as needed to answer your questions to make sure you feel comfortable with your decision. 

If you are wondering how to sell your gold jewelry, we can help! To get started, make an appointment online or call our Baltimore store at (410) 837-0290

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