The letter "K" stands for karat, which refers to the percentage of pure gold in a piece of jewelry. A scale of 0 to 24 is used to measure karats. 24K gold jewelry is 100 percent pure gold, whereas 0K gold jewelry has no gold (such as sterling silver).
The amount of karats is the most important factor to consider when purchasing fine gold jewelry. The more karats, the more expensive it is (the lower end is 10K, while the higher end is 24K). In between, there's 14K, 18K, 21K, and 22K gold. Only a small percentage of the jewelry in the middle, such as 14K, is made of pure gold. Copper, palladium, nickel, and silver make up the rest of the proportion. A 24K gold item of jewelry will be more expensive than one with less karats since pure gold is a highly precious metal.
When looking at good gold jewelry, the number of karats should be engraved on it (usually somewhere less obvious). 10K, 14K, 18K, 21K, 22K, and 24K are the most popular karats used in jewelry. It's doubtful that you'll see 5K, 6K, 7K, or any other typical karat measurements. Pure gold is a soft metal that is easily scratched and deformed, therefore 24 Karat jewelry is uncommon and not frequently sold.
To get the proportion of pure gold in a piece of jewelry, divide the number of karats by 24. If you buy 18K gold jewelry, for example, divide 18 by 24. The answer is 0.75, or 75%. This signifies that an 18K gold jewelry piece includes 75% pure gold.
Although it would be more logical to print the percentage of pure gold on the jewelry piece, not all gold is used for jewelry. The term karat refers to the proportion of fine gold in an alloy, and gold alloys are widely utilized in some important industrial uses. It is more accurate to use karats rather than percentages.
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