In your search for the best gold jewelry, you may have realized that the most common types of gold mentioned and sold are 14k and 18k gold.
You could also be aware of other kinds of gold, specifically 22k and 24k gold. Do you wonder why 22k and 24k gold aren’t among the gold jewelry that is often advertised for engagement or wedding rings or even earrings?
Well, this article explores the worlds of 22k and 24k gold. At the end of the article, we will have all the answers you need to understand why these two types of gold aren’t often seen in jewelry.
So, let’s dive right in!
What is 24k gold jewelry?
24k gold jewelry can be defined as gold jewelry made out of pure gold or gold that hasn’t been mixed with other metals. It is 99.999% pure gold, and as far as jewelers and chemists are concerned, it doesn’t have any traces of metal impurities, like copper or silver.
24k gold sports a rather distinct yellow color, and as the purest form of gold, it is also the most expensive type of gold. Unfortunately, its high level of purity leaves you with one of the softest and the most malleable forms of precious metals, which means that in as much as the 24k gold could potentially be crafted into jewelry, the result of the crafting would be too soft, susceptible to bending, scratching, and denting.
So, if a jeweler has actual 24k gold jewelry, buying that kind of jewelry would only make sense if you are using gold jewelry as an investment instrument.
24K gold is also less dense compared to the lower karatage gold, which is why it isn’t often used in jewelry. It warps and bends easily, and it’s therefore not great for jewelry – you need a metal capable of retaining its shape for the best jewelry.
What is the Mohs Scale of 24k gold?
As aforementioned, gold is a very soft precious metal; but just how soft is gold? Well, the hardness, or in this case, the softness of metals, is determined by how the metal measures up against other metals on what is known as Mohs Scale.
For comparison reasons and for you to gain a better understanding of how soft 24k gold is, this precious metal is graded a 2.5 on the Mohs scale. This is pretty much the same level of hardness as that of your fingernail. So, pure gold cannot be used in jewelry making.
Hardening pure gold by adding other metals like copper and silver forms gold alloys like 14k or 18k. 14k gold, which contains 58.3% pure gold, is harder than pure gold and measures between 3.5 and 4 on the Mohs scale – the same hardness level as platinum.
Therefore, pure gold scratches quite easily; it gets bumped and scuffed really fast, and using it in jewelry wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.
Keep in mind that the Mohs scale is a standardized scale for metals and minerals, and it measures how a metal/ mineral is resistant to scratching when it’s scratched against other substances whose hardness levels are known.
What is the Mohs scale of 22k Gold?
22k gold is the slightly hardened version of pure gold, and it contains about 91% pure gold. This means that other metals like nickel or copper have been added to the pure gold, leaving you with a metal that is slightly harder than pure gold.
Oftentimes, 22k gold is created when 24k pure gold is mixed with a small percentage of titanium.
This makes it harder, but it still isn’t too hard to use in creating durable jewelry. The hardness level of 22k gold is between the range of 2.5 and 2.75 on the Mohs scale, which means that it still isn’t the perfect choice for jewelry making.
Is 24k gold too soft for jewelry?
Yes, 24k gold is an extremely soft precious metal that warps, scratches, and bends easily when used in jewelry or if it’s crafted into pretty much anything else.
If it’s used in making jewelry, 24k gold will not retain its shape. Bear in mind that because 24k gold scratches easily, it will be unattractive and very scuffed after a very short time, meaning you won’t be able to enjoy its value as much. Therefore, you should only buy 24k gold in bars or coins, perhaps, for investment purposes.
In addition to being too soft for use in jewelry, 24k gold is very bright – leans towards orange rather than yellow, and for most people, this isn’t the most attractive color hues for the best jewelry.
And as mentioned above, 24k is just too expensive. It’s not a reasonable choice for jewelry.
With all these in mind, 24k gold is often available in the form of gold bars and gold coins. And because it is not an ideal choice in jewelry making, 24k or 99.99% gold is used in medical devices and electronics. You should also know that for the durability of the gold coins and gold bars, a tiny amount (zero-point) of alloys is added to the pure gold – this is why 24k gold is 99.99% and not 100% pure gold.
Is 22k gold too soft for jewelry?
If you are looking for the best possible gold jewelry, something that is more durable than 24k gold but purer than 18k gold, 22k gold might be a great option for you.
At 91.67% in gold purity, 22k gold is often used in high-end gold jewelry. The rest of the 22k gold is composed of 8.33% metal alloys made of metals like nickel, copper, silver, or zinc, among other metals, These alloys enhance the strength and the durability of the pure gold, making it a good choice for the creation of the heavily-studded gold jewelry.
There’s one catch, though – despite its use in jewelry making, 22k is too soft for diamond and gemstone setting, and it cannot hold the precious stones in place.
Therefore, the most common use of 22k gold is in wedding bands. Note that the addition of metal alloys also reduces the depth of the yellow-orange color of 24k gold, making it a more desirable option. The other thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that 22k is only suitable for jewelry meant to be worn occasionally.
Why don’t US jewelers make 22k and 24k gold?
1.For starters, the high-karat pure gold varieties are highly prone to scratches, scuffing, deformation, kinking, and breakage, among other problems.
These make purer versions of gold not just harder to work with but also more difficult for the resultant jewelry pieces to look as good as new for more than a few months.
The lower karat gold varieties are, therefore, preferred because they are more durable.
Note that the lower karat gold jewelry is reinforced with different metal alloys, which increase the tensile strength of the gold, leaving you with stunning, stronger, and durable jewelry.
Think of it this way – it wouldn’t make any sense to invest in a high-karat piece of jewelry if that ring or necklace is full of kinks, scratches, and scuff marks after weeks.
2.The other reason why most US jewelers avoid 22k and 24k gold jewelry is because of demand and supply.
Essentially, there is a very low demand for such jewelry in US markets, with a negligible number of individuals being willing to spend at least 40% more on a piece of the gold chain when they could spend less on a 14k chain necklace that will not break apart easily.
In other words, most Americans would be willing to compromise on a product’s price for a product that offers more value in the end.
3.Lastly, there is the issue of color.
22k and 24k gold have this extra bright yellow color, with 24k gold’s hue being a bright orange hue and not the beautiful, warm yellow hue from lower karat gold.
So, in as much as the brightness of 22k and 24k gold make these kinds of gold jewelry attractive from the jewelry store’s windows, they are not as attractive in reality.
The extreme brightness of these two types of gold also doesn’t go well with most skin tones of Americans, and they are deemed to be less elegant.
Also, most people prefer subtle tones for expensive jewelry because this creates an air of elegance and sophistication.
Unfortunately, this effect isn’t mirrored by the very bright yellow 22k and orange 24k gold.
Both 24k and 22k gold are too soft for use in jewelry making, and they are not, therefore, the most popular option on the market today.
They are also very expensive, and the color is not as attractive. As a result, jewelers don’t really make jewelry from 22k or 24k, and if they did, they’d do that on-demand basis only.
As a result, 24k and 22k are more popular in Eastern markets like China, among others where gold is used to make traditional wedding jewelry that is worn occasionally or collectible items.