Whether you are a fine-jewellery aficionado or just buying your first pair of gold earrings, you may be wondering more about this lustrous metal. We’ve got you. Read on to find out what makes up a piece of gold jewellery, how to choose the right gold for you, and our guide to caring for your precious pieces.
What is ‘Solid Gold’ Jewellery?
Solid gold jewellery refers to pieces that are made entirely from gold or a gold alloy. Pure gold is alloyed before being used in jewellery for a variety of reasons including colour, durability and strength.
It differs from plated jewellery, which features a thin layer of gold plating on top of another base metal such as brass or silver - read here for more information.
Karat or Carat - What’s the difference?
In the UK a carat is a unit of weight used to describe both gemstones and metal, usually abbreviated to ct – a 0.50ct diamond set in 9ct gold, for instance.
Worldwide, karat is more commonly used for metal. We think it helps differentiate between our gold and stone weights, so karat is what we use. When you see us refer to 9K, 10K or 14K gold, this is the same as 9ct, 10ct or 14ct.
How Can I Tell if the Product is Solid Gold?
Since 1973, any piece of gold jewellery weighing more than 1.0g must be hallmarked by law. The hallmark records the percentage of real gold in the metal which makes up your piece.
With Bling solid gold pieces are lovingly crafted from 10K or 14K gold. You will find a ‘10K’ or ‘14K’ stamp on every piece of our solid gold jewellery, and a ‘9K’ or ‘14K’ full hallmark on our heavier pieces over 1g. Seeing a little row of stamps or an engraved mark is your assurance that your new piece of jewellery is everything you expected. More information on Hallmarking can be found here.
What is the Difference Between 9K and 14K Gold?
When you buy a piece of solid gold jewellery from With Bling you have a choice between 9K and 14K gold. The difference between them is the proportion of the metal that is pure gold.
Gold is measured in karats, a unit of purity divided into 24 parts - pure gold is known as 24K. Nine karat gold contains 9 parts pure gold out of 24, while fourteen karat gold is made up of 14 parts pure gold in 24.
Why does your 9K Jewellery have a 10K Stamp?
You may notice that some of our pieces have a 10K stamp but are described as or hallmarked with ‘375’ (9K). This is because With Bling jewellery is popular all over the world, and to conform with the metal purity standards of some other countries, we make our pieces in at least 10K gold. In the UK there is no specific hallmark for 10K, so although our 10K jewellery all have a 10K stamp, they are described as or hallmarked with ‘375’ (9K).
Exceeding the requirements for UK hallmarking is actually less expensive than making the same design in different purities for different countries, so we choose to make everything in 10K. And as always, we pass the savings on to you!
Should I choose 9K or 14K Gold?
Which karat of gold you pick is a personal choice, coming down to preference, lifestyle and budget.Colour
Pure gold is an incredibly warm and bright yellow colour, so the higher the amount of gold in an alloy the deeper the shade.Durability
Pure gold is a naturally soft metal, so the other metals it is alloyed with are chosen to increase its hardness and strength.
As 9K gold has a higher proportion of these other metals it is slightly harder and more durable than 14K gold. Although both are perfectly suitable for everyday wear, 9K is a great choice if you tend to be harder on your jewellery, such as working with your hands or wearing multiple pieces at once.Price
The pure gold content is the most expensive part of any alloy, so if you compare pieces of a similar weight you’ll find 14K costs much more than 9K due to the higher gold content.
What About 24K – Can I Buy Pure Gold Jewellery?
Most ‘gold’ jewellery you see for sale isn’t pure gold. 24K is gold that hasn’t been alloyed with any other metal, and although that might sound luxurious there are a few reasons it is rarely used in jewellery;
24K Gold is incredibly soft
Think of the old-movie trope of biting a gold coin to check if it is real. In jewellery, pure gold would bend out of shape easily and quickly become marked and scratched – not a desirable trait for something you may want to wear everyday.
24K Gold is an incredibly bright yellow
The warm golden shade you associate with gold jewellery is nothing on the vivid, almost orange colour of pure gold. The subtler hue of alloyed gold tends to be considered more attractive for jewellery.
24K Gold is hugely expensive
If we compared two pieces made in 24K and 14K, the 24K one would cost significantly more. The product contains a far higher percentage of gold and, thanks to the density of gold, will be heavier. This makes producing a piece in pure gold far more expensive than a gold alloy.
What Are the Different Colours of Gold?
Pure gold only comes in one colour – a rich yellow. All other colours are achieved by varying the alloy mix to get the desired shade; white gold has a higher proportion of silver or palladium, while rose gold contains more copper, for instance.
Gold jewellery is available in a choice of colours, with yellow gold, white gold and rose gold being the most common. Here at With Bling we sell our 9K and 14K in the two most popular colours of gold; yellow and white.
Yellow gold is the classic gold colour. If you hear someone refer to a piece of jewellery simply as ‘gold’, they mean yellow. Pure gold is alloyed with a combination of metals including copper, silver and zinc.
Our white gold achieves its beautiful white shade by mixing pure gold with silver, zinc, copper and other metal alloys. It is an ideal choice for anyone who wants to coordinate with their existing silver and platinum pieces.
White gold has a naturally creamy tint due to the gold content, so to get a true white colour the finished piece of jewellery is dipped in rhodium. This thick rhodium plating gives white gold pieces a brilliant chrome-like finish and helps protect against scratching.
Will White Gold Wear Off?
Like any other plating, the rhodium plating will unfortunately fade over time with wear. So every few years you will need to “re-dip” your pieces with rhodium. This can be done at your local jewellers and is an easy and affordable way to keep your pieces looking perfect.
Will Solid Gold Jewellery Tarnish?
If there is one thing customers fear, it is tarnish. We hear these questions all the time – Will my gold jewellery tarnish? How can I prevent my pieces from tarnishing? Can I fix a tarnished piece of jewellery?
Tarnish is a thin layer of dark discoloration on the surface of your piece caused when the metals in the gold alloy react with moisture, air or other substances. Pure gold (24K) itself doesn’t tarnish, but the other metals that have been mixed to form the alloy do.
Gold jewellery may tarnish due to exposure to moisture, everyday chemicals and the natural oils in our skins. The good news is that tarnish isn’t permanent and hasn’t damaged your piece.
My piece has tarnished! How can I fix it?
If your gold jewellery has tarnished, don’t worry. The easiest way to remove tarnish is by using a gold cleaning bath dip, such as the “Hagerty Gold Clean”. Pop your pieces into the included basket and submerge them into the cleaning solution. With a quick stir and a couple of minutes wait your pieces should look brand new again. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly with a soft, lint-free cloth or with a dedicated gold polishing cloth. Take care when cleaning stone-set pieces to be sure not to catch the claw settings with your cloth.
Always make sure to check the gemstones on the products. Some stones, particularly soft ones like pearls and opals, can be damaged by the chemicals in the gold cleaning bath dip. Check with your jeweller first that your pieces will be safe if used with cleaning chemicals. Always read the instructions on whatever cleaning dip, solution, or cloth you choose.
How Can I Prevent Jewellery Tarnish?
Your solid gold jewellery will last a lifetime with just a little love and care. Here’s our jewellery care guide to making sure your pieces look beautiful now and in the years to come.
- Consider how you store your jewellery. Whether in a dedicated case or the original box, you should always store your pieces in a clean and dry place. Avoid exposing your jewellery to humidity, direct sunlight, and extreme temperatures.
- Clean your jewellery regularly to avoid build-ups of dust and oils. Over time the natural oils from your skin could cause tarnish, so keep your pieces fingerprint-free!
- Forget what you’ve seen in photoshoots – the sea and swimming pools are not the places to show off your jewels. Chlorine is particularly damaging to gold, as it reacts with the alloy and will weaken the metal over time.
- You should also remove your jewellery before exercise or showering. PH levels inperspiration can react with gold, so take your jewellery off before working up a sweat.
- Jewellery should be the last thing you put on, after your beauty and hair routine. Creams, sunscreen, hairspray and makeup can all increase the risk of tarnish, so limit their contact with your jewellery.
- If you don’t wear a piece regularly or are putting it away for a while, give it a deep cleanbefore you do. This will ensure there is no lingering residue that could cause tarnish instorage.