Gold Alloy - Karats not Carrots

(updated 16 February 2021)

We measure gold by karats, not carrots. It’s pronounced the same, but boy are they different! It's the internationally accepted unit of measurement for the weight of gemstones and diamonds (carats) and to measure the purity of gold (karats).


The karats we're talking about in this blog post is a measurement of the ratio of gold to other metals or alloys. Karats are measured on a scale from 0 to 24. The higher the karat number, the more gold there is and the less other metal content. 


Fine gold, which is the purest there is, is 24 karats. This means that 24 out of 24 of its parts are pure gold.


Why is knowing the karats of your gold ring so important? 


Well for one thing – gold is soft. Pure gold jewelry is gorgeous, but it’s not practical in jewelry. If you bite a 24 karat gold ring, you’re going to find teeth imprints there. True story. If you knock a 24 karat gold ring against a wall, it’ll probably lose its shape. Wearing it daily can easily 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, aluminium, silver and/or palladium.

We can't reveal the exact percentages in the mix we use, but we can revealwhywe use 18 karat gold.


Why is pure gold blended with alloy metals?


Meet our resident goldsmith, Fajar Afrianto or as he'd prefer to be know, Pak Apri. He turned his workshop into a thriving hub where disadvantaged people can learn and grow.

If gold is so great, why bother adding in other things into the mix?

  • Durability

    Pure gold is too soft to form into jewelry. Mixing it with other metals makes it harder and more durable for daily wear.

  • Color

    Pure gold has a very intense color. Mixing it with other metals helps soften the shade of gold, turn it into a rosy or peach color, or create a white metal look to not distract from that sparkling white diamond.

  • Price

    Pure gold is expensive. Zinc, copper, silver...? Not really. Mixing it with other metals reduces the gold used in a piece of jewelry, and thus the price you pay. 

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! 


It’s a good way to set yourself apart. You'll notice the gold colors at Gardens of the Sun are on the softer side. A little dreamy and not glaringly bright. It's a signature mix unique to us. We spent some time figuring out the exact shade of gold that would fit well with our designs and our vibe. Other brands might have similar shades, but the exact mix to creating those colors will be unique to every brand.


Creating gold alloy is actually a pretty important bit of jewelry making, since you might have a physical reaction to gold! 

Have you heard of people having allergic reactions to gold? Are youallergic to gold? The truth is, gold allergy is pretty rare. 24 karat gold is often classified as a hypoallergenic metal, but you might be reacting to the metal chosen to create gold alloy


Like any allergy, reactions may vary. Your skin might turn a different color or you might have a rash. Chances are it's the nickel in the alloy, and you my friend, are allergic to it. 


I still remember those itchy rashes I'd get as a teenager from cheap fashion rings or long earrings dangling in my neck. 


You'd be surprised how common nickel allergy is! Unlike food allergies, metal allergies don't really come up as conversation topics, so it seems a lot more uncommon. But you're definitely not alone.


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 – Gardens of the Sun jewelry doesn't use nickel in any of our metal mixes! 

Full disclosure, in the past there were trace amounts of nickel in our imported 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, so you might need to check your metal sensitivity.


What do the stamps on GOLD jewelry mean?


A custom ethical gold diamond ring with 18 karat stamp.

You might notice stamps on the inside of your rings (and on the back, or underside of you other pieces of jewelry) and wonder - what is this? It's not just some random engraving!


On most jewelry there's a stamp to show the specifications of the metal used for your jewelry. It'll show you information like gold karat or silver content. This would double as a reassurance of your gold karat count, and as a mark for other jewelers if you ever need your jewelry fixed or adjusted.


And in the case of our eco gold jewelry, there's a little extra hallmark to show you it's made with our Borneo gold sourced directly from indigenous women miners with low impact mining methods. A little something to remind you of the impact you have when you buy goods that do good.

Most karat values for gold jewelry range from 9 karat to 24 karat. Anything below that isn't usually considered solid gold jewelry. In fact, in the U.S. you can't call something below 10 karat 'solid gold jewelry'. 


On the plus side, with a lower karat, your jewelry may harder and more durable. On the down side, there's a higher chance you might be allergic to the metaals mixed in. And also less gold significantly lowers the value! The most popular options for gold jewelry are 14 karat and 18 karat. They offer the best balance between durability, appearance, price and value. 


Here's a breakdown of the most popular karat stamps and how much gold purity is found in each karat category.

A table to explain the ratio of karats to gold percentage. You can create your own custom ethical gold ring in 18 karats with Gardens of the Sun!

DID YOU KNOW?

Using karats to measure gold is more popular with US and UK companies. While in Europe, gold is more commonly measured by decimal hallmark stamps, or their millesimal fineness. So 18 karat will be marked as 750, while 24 karat will be marked 999.

As we mentioned before, Gardens of the Sun uses 18 karat gold for all our varieties of gold. But if you’re still worried about allergies for white gold, drop our team a line.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.

Or why not try your hand at designing your very own custom ethical gold ring!