Gold has been recognized as a valuable metal for more that 5,000 years. Gold is often mixed with different metals is order to make desired colors of gold or produce a different level of purity. Purity, or the percentage of gold in an alloy, is measured in karat.
Different Purity Levels
One karate equals 1/24 or 0.0417%. Fourteen karat gold contains 58.3% gold - 14 parts pure gold to 10 parts other metals. Twenty-four karat gold is 100% gold, containing 24 parts pure gold and no other metals.
Why 14K Gold?
Gold alloys, like 14 karat gold, is created to make gold jewelry and other goods more affordable and more durable. Pure gold, or 24 karat, is a relatively soft metal and creating an alloy by mixing gold with other metals can create a harder, longer-lasting product.
Types of 14K Alloys
Different colors of 14 karat gold - green, pink or red, white - are created by mixing different quantities of silver, copper, nickel or zinc with gold. Small changes in the mixtures can make drastic changes in the color and hardness of the gold.
Disadvantages of 24K
In addition to being more expensive, the main disadvantage of 24 karat gold is that it is very soft and susceptible to denting, scratching and bending.
When buying gold it is very hard for laymen to tell the difference in purity. Only experienced gold traders, jewelers and other experts are generally capable of determining the quality of gold. For that reason, don't buy gold from sources that are not well known or do not have a respectable reputation.