Understanding Gold Karats – Purity of Gold

To understand the authentic value of gold, you need to be clear about gold karats. “All that glitters is not gold” – the proverb couldn’t be truer in every sense of the word. All gold jewellery is assessed by its purity – called the “gold karats” that determine the value of the gold. When you sell gold, the gold buyer first analyzes the purity of the gold jewellery before calculating the price.

Gold has enamored generations due to its value and beauty, but the actual value of the gold lies in its karats. Two pieces of gold of equal weight have different prices just on the basis of their karats. The highest purity of gold is 24 karats as it is the highest possible purity – 99.99% pure. So why don’t jewelers sell all gold at 24 karats? This is due to the fact that 24 carat gold is extremely difficult to mould, as well as being soft it tends to lose shape and become disfigured. Hence, jewelers mix other metals with pure gold to improve the durability and pliability of the gold and help them to create fine jewellery designs.

Gold karat stamp on a ring

This gold ring is 14K - 58% pure

10K gold – 42% gold, 58% filler Most common in North America
14K gold – 58% gold, 42% filler Common in America and Europe
18K gold – 75% gold, 25% filler Common in Italy and Portagal
21K gold – 87% gold, 13% filler Asian gold – notably Indian and Arabic gold
24K gold – 99% gold, 01% filler Chineese gold jewellery

If you have bought diamonds or gem stones then you have heard the term “carats” before. Do note that although the term “carat” is similar to “karat”, it means an entirely different thing when used in reference to precious stones. In case of diamonds and gemstones, it refers to the size and weight of the gemstone, whereas in gold it refers to the purity, hence the “k” instead of the “c”. This is vital information for you both when you go to buy gold jewelry and when you plan to sell gold jewellery for cash. If you notice that a ring claims to be 10 karats gold then it actually means that it is 42% gold.

Gold hallmark

Gold hallmark indicating 75% gold alloy


European gold jewellery is stamped with a 3 digit number, indicating the gold percentage. The same system is also common in South America. For instance,

750 marked on 18K gold indicates 75% gold
585 marked on 14K gold indicates 58.5% gold
417 marked on 10K gold indicates 41.7% gold

In North America, gold jewellery is stamped using a number and letter combination. For example,

9-karat gold is marked as 9K or 9kt;
10-karat gold is marked as 10K or 10kt and so on.

The karat stamp along with an Assay office mark and maker’s mark is known as the hallmark. British hallmarks include the karat mark, Assay office mark, date letter and the maker’s mark. French hallmark uses symbols such as animal figures and the eagle’s head, indicating 18-karat gold is the most common since the 19th century. The American bullion gold coins or bars are also marked for purity, and used mostly by gold investors.

Karat value of gold determines its price, strength, color and usefulness. Yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are commonly known, and their color depends upon the percentage of copper or other metals alloyed with gold. Brilliant yellow gold is probably the most attractive and obviously indicates a higher percentage of gold. Most goldsmiths prefer to work with 18-karat gold as it is softer to stud gemstones and offers more intricate design options.

At Cashforgold.TO in Toronto, gold jewellery is estimated in the best manner to determine the exact gold karat so that customers get the right appraisal and the most profitable price for their gold jewellery.