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Gold carats

Learn how to recognise to gold carats to calculate value and price

Gold is a soft metal and to ensure it lasts, it needs to be associated with other metals that can give it the right hardness.
This can be achieved by melting it with other metals known as alloys.
There are different alloys with specific characteristics and properties, depending on:

  • the metals used with gold
  • the amount of gold used.

It is the ratio between the quantity of gold and that of other metals joined to it that defines the Fineness.
In gold jewellery, specifically, it is the gold component and the overall amount of the alloy compound, i.e. the sum of gold and other metals.
The fineness is expressed in thousandths per gram and represents the quantity of gold in the alloy.
A couple of examples:

  1. Fineness “500” means that the object has half pure gold and half another metal.
  2. Fineness “750” means that the object consists of three quarters pure gold and a quarter of another metal which makes it harder.

Finally, the carat is the unit of measurement of the fineness of the gold, which corresponds to the twenty-fourth part of pure gold content in an alloy.
Example: 18 carat jewellery contains three quarters of pure gold and a quarter of another metal (e.g. 6 carats of silver) used to make the article more robust.

Italian law states that the manufacturer must apply to every gold object, a mark showing the fineness of the alloy and one that indicates the manufacturer's identification mark assigned by the designated government agency.
When selling a gold item, the amount of gold actually present in the material being purchased is estimated and not the processing.

The different carats:

  • 9 carats: 375 parts of gold out of 1000. i.e. 37.5% are the parts in gold in the article while the rest consists of other metals, such as silver, copper, nickel, etc.
  • 12 carats: 500 parts of gold out of 1000. i.e. 50% pf the article is made of pure gold whilst the rest consists of other metals.
  • 14 carats: 585 parts of gold out of 1000. i.e. 58.5% are the parts in gold in the article while the rest may consist of other metals, such as silver, copper, nickel, etc.
  • 18 carats: 750 parts of gold out of 1000. i.e. 75% of the parts are in gold and the remainder is in different metals. A lot of Made In Italy jewellery has this number of carats.
  • 22 carats: 916 parts of gold out of 1000. i.e. the parts in gold are 91.6%.
  • 24 Carats: pure gold or fine gold. 999 parts pure gold out of 1000, namely that gold parts are 99.9%. These carats are used for the production of bullion held by banks and some types of coins.
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