Gold Alloy; Karats not Carrots

March 04, 2020

We measure gold by karats, not carrots. Just getting that out of the way – because I know I misspelled the word a few times when I started out. It’s pronounced the same, but boy are they different. Isn’t English such a weird language? It’s the internationally accepted unit of measurement for the mass of gemstones (carats) and to measure the purity of gold (karats).

Why is knowing the karats of your gold ring so important? Well for one thing – gold is super soft. Fine gold, which is the purest there is, is 24 karats. This means that 24 out of 24 of its parts are pure gold. It’s gorgeous, but it’s not practical in jewelry. If you bite a 24k gold ring, you’re going to find teeth imprints there. True story. If you knock a 24k gold ring against a wall, it’ll probably lose its shape. Even wearing it daily will distort the shape. In short, 24k gold jewelry is a pain to take care of!

Our jewelry is made of 18 karat gold, which is a 75% gold content. The gold is mixed with other alloys – usually zinc, copper, nickel, iron, cadmium, aluminium, silver, platinum and/or palladium. The ‘other’ metals chosen will usually depend on what color the goldsmith will want the finished jewelry to be. That’s why you’ll find different shades of gold jewelry across different brands, even if the karats are the same! After all it’s a good way to set yourself apart.

Have you heard of people having allergic reactions to gold? The reason is mostly because of the metal chosen to create that alloy. A lot of people are allergic to nickel! Any earrings with nickel in them will have my ears infected in mere hours. 

Have you ever had gold jewelry that turns your skin a different color or gives you a rash? Chances are it contains nickel, and you my friend, are allergic to it. While that’s a worry you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re shopping for gold in the future, it’s not something you have to worry about with a Gardens of the Sun piece. Psst. Trade secret – we don’t use nickel! Although there may be small trace amounts in our white gold solder, which we use to melt the ring into a circle. 

Gold alloy isn’t just used for ‘yellow gold’ though! Adding different alloys can also make what we recognize as white gold or rose gold. Goldsmiths, like other artists, are creative souls who enjoy exploring their craft. And if you’re curious about our talented goldsmiths, you can ‘meet’ one of them here.

At Gardens of the Sun, we use 18k gold for all our varieties of gold. The alloys mixed in are of course a trade secret! It’s all very hush, hush. But if you’re worried about allergies, drop our customer service rockstars a line. Or you can choose white gold! Fun fact, the rhodium plating in our white gold is hypoallergenic.

Now that you know about the gold alloys and how they may play a part in your choices of jewelry, have a look at our line of ethical gold rings in our Origins Collection. And if you keep an eye out, you might spot a few ethical gold earrings and ethical gold necklaces too as we expand the collection.

Gold Nugget!

Karats are used by mostly US and UK companies. You might see variations of this in Europe, where gold is measured by decimal hallmark stamps. So 18k will be marked as 750, while 14k and 24k will be respectively marked 575 and 999. Good to know!


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