Ever wonder how gold is rated? You probably know already that the value of this precious metal is determined in karats, but what arekarats? And why is one gold ring 24 karat and another is 14 karat? If you need the answers to these burning questions, keep reading to find out the basics on gold karat rating.

What are karats? And what’s the difference between them and carats with a ‘c’?

First, let’s talk about the difference between carats and karats. Carats are units of measurement that define the weight of gemstones, such as diamonds or rubies. Karats, on the other hand, define the purity of gold and other precious metals. Karats tell how much of a particular piece is actual, pure gold.

What are the different weights of gold?

There are five different weights that gold jewellery can belong to: 9, 14, 18, 22, or 24 karats. As explained in the previous section, each rating is given depending on how much pure gold is in the piece of jewellery. Here’s a breakdown of what each rating means:

  • 9 karat: This is the lowest rating. If something is classified as 9 karat gold, it means that there is just 37.5% gold in the piece. While it is less valuable, 9 karat gold jewellery is actually more durable than higher karat pieces because of the higher presence of other metals. Pure gold is soft, which is why other metals (such as silver or copper) are mixed with it. The larger percentage of these other metals strengthens the piece. In 9 karat pieces, the yellow hue that gold is known for is retained, albeit lighter in colour.
  • 14 karat: The next rating is 14 karat, which means there is around 58.5% pure gold in the jewellery. This is a very popular piece, as 14 karat gold is affordable and still very durable, and it exhibits a beautiful warm, yellow colour.
  • 18 karat: With 75% percent pure gold, 18 karat pieces are valued for their radiance and brighter tones than either the 9 or 14 karat pieces. Of course, with this much pure gold involved, 18 karat pieces also come at a higher price.
  • 22 karat: Pieces that are rated at 22 karats contain about 91.6% percent gold, so naturally they have a much higher value than anything in the preceding categories. With this high of a percentage of gold, these pieces are not quite as strong or durable, so they’re not ideal for stone set pieces and are more commonly used in plain gold jewellery.
  • 24 karat: The highest rating, 24 karat gold is about 99.9% gold. The natural yellow colour of pure gold is the defining characteristic of 24 karat pieces. Like 22 karat gold, jewellery at this rating is quite malleable and soft.

What Type of Gold Should You Get?

This is what everyone wants to know when shopping for gold jewellery. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. What type of gold you should get really depends on two things: the particular piece you’re buying and your budget. If you need to keep the price point down, 14 karat gold is a great option. It’s affordable yet durable, with pure gold tones. If budget isn’t a factor, you may want something in the 18 to 24 karat range. These pieces are more valuable, but be selective in which piece you choose, as they’re not quite as durable.