All That Glitters Is Not Gold


24-karat. 22-karat. 18-karat. 14-karat. What does it all mean and why should you care?

If you’re in the market for gold jewelry, you should be aware of recent changes in consumer protection laws that allow retailers to label lower quality metal alloys “gold.”

Karats are a measure of the proportion of pure gold. Pure gold is too soft to use alone, so jewelers mix it with other metals to add strength and durability. Twenty-four karat is almost pure gold, while 10-karat is less than half pure gold. For many years, Federal Trade Commission regulations required items labeled “gold” to have at least 10-karats.

That’s about to change. The FTC recently eliminated its threshold standards for gold jewelry. Now retailers can call jewelry “gold” as long there’s any amount of gold in the alloy and the karat weight is identified. For example, an 8k alloy, which formerly couldn’t be called gold at all, can now be sold as “8k gold.”

Why is this a problem? It’s mostly a matter of buyer beware. The amount of gold in an alloy impacts its color, likelihood of corrosion, durability, and resale value. When shopping for gold jewelry, know that karat weight impacts the value of the jewelry. The higher the karat, the more expensive, yet softer. As a consumer, you must decide whether to choose the rich luster and golden color of 22-karat, or you want tougher 18- or even 14-karat gold that is lighter in color. Very low-karat gold (under 10-karat) is cheaper, but also may not maintain its beauty or structural integrity as long.

Here at Wear Ever Jewelry, you will always know exactly what you’re getting. We feature artists who are passionate about their materials and craft. The deep richness and luster of high-karat gold is highlighted in Jill Hurant’s beautiful granulated 22-karat ring above. To truly appreciate its artistry, you need to come in to our shop and see it in person, along with all our other gorgeous, handmade gold jewelry by artisans such as Jennifer Jordan Park, Geoffrey Giles, Rona Fisher and Sally Craig.

We hope you visit us soon.