How Many Types of Gold Carats are There?

Gold has always been one of the most attractive asset classes pursued by investors. Throughout history, gold has been viewed as a great store of value and has delivered good returns for investors over the short and long term. Gold is today sold in a regulated market, based on a dynamically changing spot price, which is applicable across the world. Yet, when we buy gold and look at the spot price, this applies to pure gold, which is considered to be 99.9% pure or 24-carat gold. However, it is useful to understand the different types of carats that are available in the marketplace.

24 carats of gold

There is a total of 24 carats that make up pure gold. Each is of equal value and so is 1/24th pure gold by weight. Investment-grade gold is either 22 carat (most common amongst Sovereigns and other popular bullion coins) or 24 carats (now used for some 1oz bullion coins like the Britannia and most gold bars). Even 24-carat gold isn’t completely pure but instead will be somewhere in the region of 99.9% gold. Jewellery can commonly be made of lower carat gold such as 9 carats and 18 carats which are more resilient than higher purities, cheaper and more suited to clasping precious stones.

How Many Types of Gold Carats are There?
18-carat gold face mask

So, we can see that pure gold is often blended into an alloy with different base metals to make the gold harder. Pure gold is malleable and difficult to shape into jewellery. This is probably how alchemists started creating gold with varying degrees of purity over centuries.

A similar concept was used when minting coinage, as the metal needed to be resilient for public circulation. The higher the carat of gold, the greater is its purity. However, as we can see, this creates a practical problem when the metal is moulded into coins, bars or jewellery.


Why is 24-carat gold the purest?

Refiners must declare the purity number of gold, in addition to its carat value. 24-carat gold is simply considered to be the purest since it has a negligible percentage of other metals. In the UK, this is considered to be investment-grade gold with a purity of 999.9. The metal is distinctive due to its bright yellow colour and buyers will pay the highest price for this purity of gold. But, its density is also lower and due to its softness. 24-carat gold is unsuitable for manufacturing jewellery. Its use is most prevalent in manufacturing gold bars. When minting coins, a tiny amount of base metals is introduced in the mix to make the coins durable. Pure gold is in great demand for industrial uses, like the manufacture of electronics and medical devices.

How Many Types of Gold Carats are There?
An Indian Ganesha idol plated with 24-carat gold in parts

22-carat gold

Normally 22-carat gold will have a purity of 91.67%. This leaves 8.33% of other metals, which can be silver, zinc, copper, nickel, or other base metals. Jewellery manufacturers may not use it for making jewellery that holds precious stones. This is because 22-carat gold is still too soft to hold the stones in place.

18-carat gold

The percentage of gold is much lower in this form. 18-carat gold will usually have 75% pure gold mixed with 25% of base metals. It’s a lot less expensive than buying 22 or 24-carat gold. This is the preferred purity of gold used by jewellers, as it can withstand daily wear and tear. It has a warm yellow shine, which is great for manufacturing wedding bands and other ornamental jewellery.

Insider's Guide to gold and silver

14-carat gold

This is a number that represents gold which is only 58.3% pure. The balance 41.7% in this form gold, comprises other metals like nickel or zinc. This form of gold is durable and sturdy and preferred by many to make jewellery. It is also more affordable and ideal for people with skin metal allergies.

10-carat gold

It is the cheapest form of gold and has a pale tone due to the presence of base metals. Usually 10-carat gold will have at least 41.7% of gold. Since it has a gold level of 10 parts out of 24, it is called 10 carats. While it is more affordable, it also tarnishes easily.

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How to Identify Types of Gold

Gold is an interesting metal. It is a metal as well as an element. It also comes in different forms. There are many types of gold that are distinguishable by their colour and properties. Gold is visible in different forms like gold coins, bars and jewellery. Within these, gold can be differentiated by its purity or carat value. Let us explore the different types of gold and how we can identify them.

The most common distinctions

The most common distinction between gold types is their carat or purity. This can be difficult to simply detect with the naked eye. 24-carat gold is virtually 100% pure, while 9-carat purity is as low as 37.5% purity. In its purest state, the gold will be relatively soft, while it tends to feel harder to the touch when mixed with more alloys. The colour can also vary, with pure gold displaying a distinct yellow-orange.

When mixed more with silver, the white gold effect is present, while red gold contains a higher amount of copper. Assay marks on the gold will display the purity but not all gold will be hallmarked. Other than that, it’s best to take it to a jeweller to safely perform a test and determine if it’s real in the first place!

How to Identify Types of Gold
A purple gold necklace

The concept of carat value comes from 24 parts of gold. So, if the gold is 18 parts pure gold it is considered to be 18 carats. Similarly, if it is 22 parts pure, it is known as 22-carat gold. But, this is only one way to differentiate one type of gold from another. Gold is often available in a variety of colours and this can be another way of distinguishing its types.


The colours of gold

Different colours can be achieved by introducing other precious metals or base metals into the gold mix. Blue gold is a popular type of gold that is created by adding indium or gallium. These are rare metals that create a bluish hue to the gold when added. Another colour of gold is green. Green gold is also known as Electrum and can be manufactured through the introduction of silver and copper. Colours of gold like blue and green are often used by jewellers, due to their aesthetic appeal.

How to Identify Types of Gold
Wedding rings made of white gold

Purple and rose gold

Gold is also available in the colour purple and this is done by introducing 79% pure gold and 21% aluminium. Purple gold is also a type of 18-carat gold, also known as amethyst gold. However, purple gold is more brittle than other gold alloys and is unsuitable for the electronics industry. It can, however, be used to decorate gold jewellery.

Rose gold gets its colour from being mixed with copper. There are different types of rose gold. 18-carat red gold is created by mixing 75% gold with 25% copper. But, another type of 18 carats rose gold contains 75% gold with 22.25% copper and 2.75% silver. Also, included in the 18-carat category is pink gold. Pink gold contains 75% gold with 20% copper, while the amount of silver in the mix is increased to 5%. The last category, which is also the cheapest is 12-carat red gold, where the gold is only 50% and the rest is copper.

White and yellow gold

White gold has gained popularity over the years and the hardness of the mix is achieved by introducing Palladium, which is another precious metal. However, in some cases, silver may also be added along with Palladium and nickel. A popular formulation of white gold contains 90% gold with 10% nickel. Many jewellers also plate the white gold with a coating of rhodium, which gives its steely look and shine. The industry typically uses Palladium and nickel as bleaching agents to change the colour of gold to white.

Yellow gold is a derivative of the normal colour of gold. 18-carat yellow gold is created with 75% gold, 12.5% copper and 12.5% silver. However, it darker shade of yellow can be achieved by increasing the percentage of copper. Here, the proportions change to 75% gold, 15% copper and 10% silver.

Call our experts to know everything about the types of gold

Physical Gold is one of the U.K.’s most reputed gold dealers. Our team of experts can help you decide which type of gold to buy and advise you on the best way to make gold investments. Call us today on (020) 7060 9992, alternatively, drop us an email by visiting our website.


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What Types of Electronics use Gold?

Gold is a much sought after metal with very interesting properties. We often think of gold as being primarily attractive to investors and collectors of gold coins. Gold jewellery is extremely popular across the world, especially in Asia. However, the largest demand for gold comes from the industry.

While a variety of industries use gold for their manufacturing operations, gold has certain properties that make it very attractive to the electronics industry in particular. Gold is one of the most conductive metals on the planet. It is also highly malleable, which means that it can be sheathed onto surfaces. Gold is also very ductile and a small amount of gold can be stretched into wires that run into metres. Therefore the electronics industry has a large appetite for gold.

Why is gold used in the electronics industry?

With a conductivity score of 70%, gold is a popular choice for use in electronics. Most commonly, gold is used as an electroplated coating on contacts and connectors. It shines as the superior choice due to its high conductivity, corrosive resistance, and resilience (especially when mixed with nickel). Copper and silver are both cheaper and more conductive than gold, so tend to be used in a far wider array of electronic applications. Encasing electronics in gold is increasing in popularity to appeal to the luxury market such as the Gold Apple watch.

What Types of Electronics use Gold?
An electroplating factory in China

A deeper look at the use of gold in the electronics industry tells us that gold is a far superior conductor of electricity when compared to copper, silver and aluminium. This simply means that gold offers minimal resistance to the electricity flowing to and fro. However, its properties like ductility and malleability create a tipping point for its use in the electronics industry. Due to these properties, gold is very user friendly and easy to work with. It is easy and convenient to introduce the yellow metal into miniature electronic circuits, which are often found in mobile phones, gaming devices and other electronic accessories. Gold is also resistant to tarnishing, a property that ensures longer life of the devices and circuit boards in which the metal is used.


Electronics processes, where gold is used

Perhaps one of the largest users of gold in the electronics industry is in plating connectors and contacts. Semiconductor packages also use gold bonding wires, while a wide array of other processes also use gold. These include hybrid circuits, printed circuit boards and their coatings and soldering, contact points for electronic components and metal layers on semiconductors, which can be frequently used as conductor tracks and contacts points.

What Types of Electronics use Gold?
Gold plated electronic connectors

Due to its corrosion resistance properties and high electrical conductivity, gold has become the metal of choice for use in connectors and contacts. It is most preferred for low voltage, low current and contact force applications. Gold is often electroplated onto nickel and if the device or circuitry needs to function in hostile environments, the thickness of the gold is often increased. This may be true for its use in the electronic car industry, where the e-vehicles need to be driven throughout the year across a range of seasons.

Wire bonding

Wire bonding is another area of use in the electronics industry, where the demand for gold had already doubled in six years from 1994 to 2000. In the last 20 years, the demand for gold for these processes has skyrocketed. Wire bonding is usually found in many electronic devices, for example – computer motherboards and their components.

Our experts are available to answer your questions about gold

Physical Gold is one of the country’s most reputed and successful precious metal dealers. Please call us on (020) 7060 9992, or get in touch with us online with all your queries about gold and its investment opportunities.


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