Yellow gold jewelry has been around for thousands of years and is the oldest known precious metal used in jewelry making. It has a very warm and elegant look and feel to it, especially when placed on the skin. Yellow gold is timeless and is a very appropriate gift when celebrating life's most important occasions.
Yellow gold is the easiest and most practical precious metal to repair or maintain. Re-sizing and re-finishing is inexpensive and almost all jewelers are proficient at yellow gold repairs. Extensive repairs can be done relatively easy without the fear of damaging valuable gemstones and diamonds because yellow gold has a very low melting point.
Pure gold jewelry is made in 24K gold and is much too impractical for everyday wear because of its softness. In order to harden the metal and increase it's durability yellow gold jewelry is mixed with metal alloys like copper or gold. Most gold jewelry in the United States is mixed with alloys that bring the karat grade down to 10K, 14K, or 18K gold. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires all jewelry sold to be stamped with the gold content used by the jewelry maker. To determine the exact gold content examine the jewelry for the 10K, 14K or 18K stamp, if the jewelry is not properly stamped you should be very careful before making a purchase. You may also notice that the jewelry is stamped with .417, .585, or .750, which is the percentage of pure gold.
10K = .417, 14K = .585, and 24K = .750. Sometimes you will see a stamp followed by a P like 14KP, which means the gold, is plumb. Gold that is plumb means that gold metal content has been verified as being 100% accurate with zero tolerance for error in the mixing process.
The major benefit to buying 10k gold is the price savings, because there is less pure gold in the jewelry the price comes down. 10K gold is very hard and resists dings and dents; however because of the lack of pure gold it is very light in color. 10K gold tarnishes over time because of the high alloy content and often needs polishing to remove the tarnish from the metal surface. 10K jewelry is considered to be lower quality jewelry. 10K gold is known to cause skin creations because of its high alloy content.
14K yellow gold is very affordable and is a practical choice when choosing yellow gold for jewelry. Unlike 10K, 14K has a warm yellow color, does not tarnish, and doesn't require polishing for tarnish removal. It does ding and dent a little more often than 10K, but polishes more easily because of it's softer surface. 14K yellow gold is sold more often than any other yellow gold.
18K yellow gold is considered to be the highest quality gold that is sold in the United States and Europe. It has a very rich yellow gold and when set with diamonds the contrast between the whiteness of the stones and the richness of the gold creates a beautiful look. It is a bit soft for everyday wear and won't last as long as 14K. 18K is a perfect choice for platinum/18K two tone jewelry because the darker yellow color shows up well against the pure white platinum. Gold's purity level is rated using a karat scale with pure gold being 24K or .999 Fine