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Gold purity is measured in karats. A gold karat is 1/24th of the whole. The purity of a gold alloy is the number of these parts of gold it contains compared to other metals. The higher the number of karats, the purer the gold is.
The highest karat of gold is pure gold, which has 24 karats. However, gold is usually mixed with other metals for increased durability, especially in jewelry. The higher the karats, the higher the quality and malleability.
If you see gold marked with 24K, 999, 9999, or 999.5, the gold is the highest possible quality.
Chinese Gold may also be marked with Chinese symbols such as:
足金 indicates 99.0% pure gold
千足 indicates 99.9% pure gold
万足 indicates 99.99% pure gold
Whether gold comes from China or any other country, the only way to know if it is pure is to test it, because you can’t always trust markings.
Chinese gold may or may not be real depending on the jewelry that it is in but just because something is Chinese gold does not automatically make it real or fake gold.
There are a few ways to verify that the gold you have is authentic:
- Pour or use a dropper to drop white vinegar on the item in question. If it changes color, it is not pure gold.
- Safely expose the item in question to a steady flame (such as a butane lighter or fireplace). If it gets darker, it is not pure gold.
- Expose the item in question to a strong magnet. If it sticks to a magnet, it is not pure gold.
- Drop the item in question in a clear glass of water. If it floats or sinks slowly, it is not pure gold.
Keep in mind that if you see “925 China” stamped on a piece of jewelry, that indicates the base of the piece is not gold. It’s made up of 92.5% sterling silver and it’s only coated with a thin layer of gold. This process is known as gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may).
To test to see if your jewelry is real gold or not you can purchase an at-home test kit as well. Some of the most popular ones can be found by clicking here.
Where Does Most Gold Come From?
The Gold Rush started in 1848 and attracted about 300,000 people to California to mine for gold. Because it is one of the rarest elements in the world, and it has been consistently mined for so many years, some experts predict that gold is going to be more difficult to mine in the future.
As of 2020, the country which mined the most gold was China, followed by Russia, Australia, U.S., Canada, Ghana, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Mexico, and Indonesia.
This chart from Forbes shows the top 10 gold producing countries in the world as of 2020
Why Is Chinese Gold So Yellow?
In today’s jewelry market there are 3 different colors of gold: yellow, white, and rose. Each one is created using a different blend of metals which combine with the gold to produce different hues. Y
ellow gold is a naturally occurring precious metal. In its purest form, pure gold is very yellow. It is also soft and therefore bends easily. That’s why the gold that’s used in jewelry must be mixed with more durable metals.
These combine with gold to make it more durable, and keep its shape. White gold is normally made up of 75% gold and about 25% nickel and zinc. Rose gold is normally made from a combination of pure gold and copper.
The more other metals that are combined with the gold, the less pure the quality of the gold.
Chinese gold tends to be very pure, which means it is bright, shiny, and yellow. This pure gold is best for an investment, but not for jewelry as it will easily bend or get damaged.
Why Is Gold So Popular?
Nearly every society has used gold as currency and a symbol of wealth and prestige. This trend is based on both long-standing tradition and clear-cut durability. One of the many reasons gold maintains its value is because it does not corrode or degrade with age, heat or moisture. Therefore, it maintains a constant weight – unlike iron, which rusts, and copper, which oxidizes Gold also has many uses.
This diagram from Bullions By Post highlights the properties and modern day uses of gold:
- Non-rusting & Non-toxic
- Easy to work with (malleable)
- Highly conductive
- Finance – wealth protection
- Jewelry, adornments and medals
- Electronics – cables and connectors
- Space Exploration & Satellites – shields and visors
- Medicine & Dentistry – prosthesis and tooth repair
Why Is Gold So Valuable?
Because of its many uses, gold is not only popular but also very valuable. Unfortunately, gold’s value tends to grow as a result of political and/or financial turmoil.
Due to a world crisis, the bitter political climate, social unrest, and economic uncertainty, the value of gold reached an all-time high of $2,074.88 USD (US dollars) per ounce in August of 2020.
Similar global events in March of 2021 have inflated the rate of gold to $1,979.20 USD per ounce.
What’s The Difference Between White Gold And Platinum?
If you are shopping for wedding rings or bands, you should consider which is the best fit for you not only in terms of aesthetics, but also which is best for your budget.
Aesthetically, the difference between white gold and platinum is pretty slim. If you like the look of platinum but don’t have the budget for it, then your best alternative is white gold. However, keep in mind that white gold rings have a rhodium plating which normally wears off in 2-3 years and you would need to get it “re-dipped” to return it to its original whiteness.
On the other hand, platinum is naturally white so you don’t have to worry about any plating or re-dipping, but it is also more difficult to work with and rarer than gold, so it is more expensive.
Another thing to consider when choosing between white gold and platinum is the weight. White gold is a bit lighter than platinum. Also, keep in mind that if a platinum ring is marked “950” then it is 95% pure. Some platinum rings are mixed with 5% palladium to make them more scratch-resistant.
Here’s a quick comparative overview:
- More hypoallergenic than white gold
- More durable than white gold
- Naturally white (no re-dipping required)
- Heavier than white gold
- More expensive than white gold
White gold is:
- More popular than platinum
- Dipped in rhodium to get its white sheen (which wears off in 2-3 years)
- Less expensive than platinum
- Lighter than platinum