Gold is the most popular choice for men's and ladies wedding rings and engagement rings. Gold is also very popular in dress rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets. There are two things to consider when looking at gold. First, which gold carat to choose and second, the gold color or the combination of gold colors available.
There are several carats available for gold. The carat is the gold content of the metal. The carat measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloy to make up the final metal. The carat of gold is represented in many countries by the abbreviation ct. Carat can also be called karat, represented by kt or K.
You may notice that carat or ct is also used to measure the weight of diamonds and gemstones. Although the same name is used, the two measurements are measuring different characteristics of jewellery. The gold carats normally used in men's wedding bands are 9ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct.
The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be. So all other things being the same, an 22ct ring will be more expensive than a 18ct ring and a 18ct ring will be more expensive than a 14ct ring.
9ct gold contains 37.5% pure gold (375 parts per thousand parts). 14ct gold contains 58.5% pre gold (585 parts per thousand parts). 18ct gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand parts). The remainder of the metals is made up of a combination of alloys, different metals which can help to give the metal its unique appearance, such as a different color.
Other gold carats are used in different parts of the world including 10ct, 22ct and 24ct. It is generally considered that 22ct and 24ct gold are too soft to be used to make men's wedding rings. 10ct gold (417 parts pure gold per thousand parts) is very similar to 9ct gold and the reason why some countries use 9ct and other countries use 10ct is due to historical reasons, rather than one being superior to the other.
Jewellery is normally stamped with a marking to show the type of gold. For 9ct gold, the stamp will normally be either the number 375, 9ct, 9kt or 9K. For 14ct gold, the stamp will normally be either the number 585, 14ct, 14kt or 14K. For 18ct gold, the stamp will normally be either the number 750, 18ct, 18kt or 18K. The stamps only indicate the carat of metal. They do not indicate the color of the metal. So for example an 18ct yellow gold ring would have a stamp of 750 as would an 18ct white gold ring.
9ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct gold are each relatively hard and durable metals and are suitable for use in all types of fine jewellery. Gold is also suitable to be used in jewellery that is worn on an every day basis.
When choosing jewellery, particularly rings, many people consider the hardness and durability of gold to be used in their ring. Metal hardness is measured by what is called the Vickers scale where harder metals receive a higher Vickers score than less hard metals. 9ct has a Vickers hardness of 120 and 18ct has a Vickers hardness of 125. This shows 18ct as harder, but the difference is so slight that in practical terms 9ct and 18ct are much the same in terms of hardness.
There is another difference that should be considered when comparing 9ct and 18ct. 9ct is more difficult to bend and is a little more springy and therefore a fine 9ct ring may be less likely to bend out of shape than a fine 18ct ring. However, if the ring is of a good sturdy construction neither metal will be likely to bend out of shape.