Carat gold: What’s the difference between 14, 18 & 24 carat gold?

The pureness of golden jewelry is expressed in carat gold. But what does this mean? And, what is the difference between different carat gold, like 14, 18 & 24 carat? And, why are there so many differerence between carat of gold? Read on to learn more about carat gold and why it is so important. Because, when you have or want to buy a golden piece of jewelry, of course you’d like to know everything about it!

What is carat gold?

The term carat indicates how much pure gold is used to create a jewelry. 1 carat is 1/24th part of pure gold. A piece of jewelry of 24 carat gold consists completely of gold, while a piece of jewelry of 14 carat gold consists of 58,5% of gold (14/24 = 0.585). 18 carat means it consits of 75% of gold (16/24 = 0.750). The rest will be supplemented with copper and/or silver. Because of these percentages, 14 carat gold is also referred to as 585 gold and 18 carat gold is also indicated with ‘750’. Adding copper, silver and or palladium to gold is referred to as an ‘alloy’.

These are the most common gold carats:

  • 24 carat gold: 99,99% pure gold (indicated with 999)
  • 22 carat gold: 91.6% pure gold (indicated with 916)
  • 20 carat gold: 83.3% pure gold (indicated with 833)
  • 18 carat gold: 75% pure gold (indicated with 750)
  • 14 carat gold: 58.5% pure gold (indicated with 585)
  • 9 carat: 37.5% pure gold (indicated with 375)
  • 8 carat: 33.3% pure gold (indicated with 333)

In some countries 9 and 8 carat gold may not be called gold, because of the fairly low amount of actual gold in the alloy.

Why are there different kinds of carat gold?

In short: how higher the carat, how more pure the piece of golden jewelry is. A piece of jewelry of a low carat can be much cheaper because of this, than a piece with a higher carat.

It doesn’t mean that a higher carat is per definition better: adding copper and/or silver is done with an even more important reason then decreasing the price: pure gold is soft. By adding other metals, the gold becomes harder. Without the addition of these metals it’s difficult to make a golden piece of jewelry, and when it’s made it will bend more easily, and break sooner. The higher the carat of gold, the softer it is. The lower the carat, the stronger it is.

What is the influence of carat gold on the price of a golden piece of jewelry?

The higher the carat, the more gold is in the piece of jewelry and the greater the value is. This rule is not always valid, these are some aspects to take into account:

  • The quality of the piece of jewelry: a massive 14 carat gold bracelet can be more expensive then a hollow one of 18 carat gold. Also a wider one can be more expensive, while of lesser carat.
  • The cost of making & designing: when a 14 carat gold piece of jewelry is very difficult to make, this can increase its price to above a piece of jewelry of 18 carat gold that can be made easier.
  • The gold price: different moments in time will know a different price of gold.

Do different carats have a different color?

When a piece of jewelry has a higher carat, the golden color is deeper. When copper is added to the gold, the alloy might get a warmer color. When more silver is added, it will not look warmer. Expecially 9 or 8 carat gold pieces of jewelry can have a warm look because of the large amount of copper added. By adding a lot of copper to gold, it’s possible to make rose gold. With a high amount of silver and/or palladium, white gold can be made.

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