|Gold jewelry never goes out of style, and for good reason, because gold is as wearer-friendly as it is beautiful.
Gold can be worked into nearly any shape, including tiny strands that do not break easily. One ounce of gold can even be hammered into an ultra thin sheet that's ten feet square. Gold can be manipulated nearly any way the artisan desires.
You'll find examples of pure gold jewelry, but pure gold is soft and isn't practical for daily wear. Other metals are mixed with it to make it more durable (and to lower its cost).
Adding other metals to the mix also allows metallurgists to change the color of gold. Palladium or nickel can be added to create white gold. Adding copper produces a rose or pink tint, while silver gives gold a greenish cast.
Know Your Karats. Look for the karat mark, which will tell you that the piece is real gold and the percentage of pure gold it contains. Pure gold, or 24K, has a deeply warm and rich color, but it is extremely soft and easily damaged.
18K gold is 75% gold; 14K is 58.5%; and 10K is 41.6%. The higher the karatage, the richer the color will be and the more costly.
In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally sold as real gold. Imported gold jewelry may be stamped with different numbers. The European marking for 14 karat gold jewelry is 585; for 18K it is 750. Note: Don't be confused with "carats," the weight and measure used for diamonds and other gems.
Always look for The Trademark. On karat-marked jewelry sold in the U.S., always look for the manufacturer's trademark. By U.S. law it must be there. When there's a hallmark, it means the manufacturer stands behind the accuracy of the karat mark. You may also find the country of origin marked.