THE GOLD PURITY
What is the gold purity?
The value of gold is based on the karat system, which is a 24-point scale signifying the percentage of gold a piece of metal contains. 24-karat gold is pure gold, but usually you mix gold with a metal like copper or silver to make jewelry (because pure gold is too soft). Each karat indicates 1/24th of the whole. So for example if a piece of jewelry is made of metal that is 18 parts gold and 6 parts copper, that is 18-karat gold.
How to determinate purity of gold? Traditional method
The acid test is the cheapest method used to check gold. Simple acid test kits typically come with a black touchstone and several acid solutions , which are marked for different karats. Experts start by scratching the touchstone using the gold that needs to be tested, leaving a streak on the stone. If the questionable gold is purportedly 14K, they will then make a parallel control streak using a piece of gold that is already known to be 14K. Finally, they'll put a drop of the acid solution on both streaks and compare the ensuing chemical reactions.
The modern Method
Jewelers may also use electronic gold testers to figure out the quality of a piece of gold. Using a specific liquid or gel, they first create a circuit between the device's probe and the gold. The device then tests the gold's electrical conductivity -- this property not only tells the jeweler if the material is actually gold, but also its purity. Electronic gold testers are fairly accurate when used properly.
The most accurate tests use X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (XRF). These machines, which can cost thousands of dollars, send X-rays through the tested item. The material's atoms become momentarily excited and move into a higher energy state; when they return to their ground state, they release radiation, which the XRF detects and reads. By analyzing the radiation, the machine figures out exactly what the item is made of.
|24 karat = 100% gold||Too soft for fine jewelry|
|22 karat = 91.7% gold||Too soft for fine jewelry|
|18 karat = 75.0% gold||Ideal for fine jewelry|
|14 karat = 58.3% gold||Ideal for fine jewelry|
|10 karat = 41.7% gold||Not acceptable for jewelry|