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All about Karat and Gold Markings

What is a karat? Karat is the measure of purity of gold. Therefore the term KARAT (short: “K” or “Kt.”) describes the purity of gold. In the United States, however, when using the term “karat” to describe the gold content it will be spelled with a k. Not to be confused with the word carat (short: “ct”), which is the term for the measurement of weight for diamonds and gemstones. Therefore karat indicates how much pure gold is in an item. Karat describes the pure gold content of man-made items but also from natural occurring items. While natural occurring items have a karat unit greater than 22, man-made items have a karat unit between 1 and 24. The most common karat units in the US are 10K, 14K, 18K, and 24K. 24 karat became the mark used to indicate that an item is made of pure gold.

To understand the idea of karat to indicate the purity of gold, you have to imagine pure gold as a whole pie which can be divided into 24 equal slices. Each karat equals one slice of the whole pie. Therefore, 24 karat is 100% gold – pure gold. According to this calculation 1 karat stands for 4.166666% pure gold.

Let’s turn our explanation into a real calculation:

18 karat gold (also named 18K gold or 18Kt. gold) means that for a piece made of 18K gold were used 18 parts of pure gold for production. 18K gold is the most common jewelry alloy in the US. No other gold alloy has been used so often in the gold production industry.

18 parts of 24 parts are pure gold= 18 times x 4.166666% = 74.999988% = 75% rounded up = 18K gold

Most common gold alloys in the US:

  • 14K gold – contains 58.5% pure gold
  • 18K gold – contains 75.0% pure gold
  • 22K gold – contains 91.6% pure gold
  • 24K gold – contains 99.9% pure gold

Gold markings – an overview for common markings in the US

The US Federal Trade Commission (short: FTC) has standardized the gold markings since the 1940s. Under these regulations, items 10K or greater have to be marked with either “K” or “Kt.” – below we have listed nearly all used gold markings for items made of 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K, and 24K gold.

KaratPurityGold MarkingsCurrent Value
10K41.6% pure gold10K gold stamp$490.04 per ounce
14K58.5% pure gold14K gold stamp$691.35 per ounce
18K75.0% pure gold750 gold stamp$886.35 per ounce
22K91.6% pure gold916 gold stamp$1,082.52 per
ounce
24K99.9% pure goldgold marking coming soon$1,178.07 per
ounce

More about the current value: gold price per pennyweight, gold calculator

Overview for all karat units

American gold markings (K)PurityInternational Gold MarkingsValue per gram
9K37.5% pure gold375$15.97
10K41.6% pure gold416$17.72
11K45.8% pure gold458$19.51
12K50.0% pure gold500$21.30
13K51.6% pure gold516$21.98
14K58.3% pure gold583 (Russian gold)$24.83
15K62.5% pure gold625$26.62
16K66.6% pure gold666$28.37
17K70.83% pure gold708$30.16
18K75.0% pure gold750$31.95
19K79.16% pure gold791$33.69
20K83.3% pure gold833$35.48
21K78.5% pure gold785$33.44
21.6K90.0% pure gold900$38.34
22K91.6% pure gold916$39.02
23K95.8% pure gold958$40.81
24K100% (99.9%) pure gold999$42.55

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