The purity of gold is described as karat (US) or fineness (Europe).  Pure gold is alloyed (combined) with other metals to make it more affordable, durable, and to change its color.   The minimum karat weight that can be sold differs from country to country.  In France and Italy gold must be at least 18kt to be called gold.  In the US and Japan gold must be over 10kt to be considered legal.  The two most common karat marks are 14kt and 18kt.  18kt is considered the international and US standard for high quality jewelry.  In India 22kt gold is popular because it is considered a monetary investment and the deep yellow color is more popular over the lighter alloyed shades of gold.

Gold Content and Markings Chart

US Karat Marking

Parts Gold Gold % International Fineness Marking
24k or 24kt 24/24 99.9% 999
22k or 22kt 22/24 91.7% 916 or 917
18k or 18kt 18/24 75.0% 750
14k or 14kt 14/24 58.3% 583 or 585
12k or 12kt 12/24 50.0% 500
10k or 10kt 10/24 41.7% 416 or 417
9k (Not sold) 9/24 37.5% 375

Is 14kt or 18kt Gold Better?

14kt Gold Pros and Cons

Pros – less expensive, wears better

Cons – may discolor or tarnish due to the lower percentage of gold, may cause allergic reaction due to metal alloys

18kt Gold Pros and Cons

Pros – more gold – less alloys which makes it more valuable, less likely to cause allergic reaction

Cons – some alloys used may not be as hard and strong as with 14kt

To learn more about gold and other precious metals visit our jewelry education section.


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