There are many different karats of gold, which determines the amount of gold vs alloy. Pure gold (24k) is too soft and malleable to wear in jewellery, so the gold must be alloyed with other metals to give it strength and durability.
14k solid gold means 14 parts gold (58.3%) and 10 parts alloys (41.7%), while 18k solid gold means 18 parts gold (75%) and 6 parts alloys (25%). The lower the karat, the less expensive it is because it is using less gold.
Solid gold is the best quality of gold there is - it’s great to wear everyday, won’t tarnish or fade, and is hypoallergenic. However, its quality is reflectant in its pricing so, solid gold pieces are much more expensive.
GOLD FILLED & GOLD VERMEIL
Gold Filled is not the same as Solid Gold. It is a fraction of the cost of Solid Gold and is made by bonding gold to a base metal to give it the appearance of gold. The process involves a high amount of heat and pressure and the resultant gold filled piece is typically more durable than a gold plated piece.
It is important to understand that Gold Vermeil it is not solid gold.
It is simply sterling silver with a layer of gold. Be careful when purchasing vermeil pieces as they almost look like gold.
Vermeil jewellery pieces are made through electroplating, which can be done in two ways:
Micron plating: This method involves measuring the thickness of the gold layer. This is necessary when plating jewelry pieces and watches. Micron plating is used in making vermeil jewelry.
Flash plating: Here, gold is dipped into the electroplating solution for a short time, and then the gold ends up coating the piece. This is common in gold-plating.
STERLING & PURE SILVER
Like gold, pure silver is too soft for jewellery. Silver is usually alloyed with copper, a harder metal, to be used for jewellery. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver, commonly referred to as ‘925’.
Other metals like germanium, zinc and platinum may be used instead of copper to give different properties to the alloyed silver.
Fine silver is 99.9% silver. This grade of silver is used to make bullion bars for trading and investment. Fine silver is too soft for most practical uses.