4 Ways to Determine and Rate Gold Purity

10-11-2011 4-11-44 PM

If you own a piece of gold jewelry, you’ve probably seen a stamp in the metal that lists a number and the letter “k.” That stamp is a measure of the gold’s purity. To learn more about how that purity is determined and rated, see the list below:

  • Alloys: Very little pure gold is circulated. Gold is a highly malleable metal, and using pure gold to make objects such as jewelry would not be practical. Instead, gold and other metals are melted together to create an alloy that looks like gold but doesn’t become misshapen like gold.


  • Karats:  Gold purity is rated using the karat system, which is different from diamond carat weight. The gold karat system is based on 24 parts. Pure gold will have a marker that reads “24k.” Gold alloys are labeled according to how many parts out of 24 are actually gold, instead of some other base metal. 18-karat gold, for instance, has 18 parts gold to six parts base metal; 14-karat gold has 14 parts gold to 10 parts base metal.


  • Percentages:  You can figure out how much gold is in any given piece of jewelry or coin if you know the karat number. A 10-karat gold ring, for example, is about 42 percent gold. You arrive at this figure by dividing the number of karats in the ring (10) by the overall number of karats in pure gold (24).


  • Karat Markings:  If there aren’t any karat markings on an apparently gold object, then it’s important to test the gold. To do so requires special needles, acids, and a touchstone—objects that the average consumer is unlikely to have or know how to use. If you’re unsure of the authenticity of your gold pieces, then visit an authorized coin dealer.

If you’re interested in selling your gold items, come to Coins of the Realm. We are a precious metals dealer in Rockville. For more information about us, call (301) 340-1640.

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