Many gold aficionados don’t like the lighter yellow colour of 18K or 14K Gold and thus they ask us why can’t we make their jewellery in 22k Gold (aka 916 gold). We have been asked this question so many times that we finally decided to write a post on it. Before we get going, it’ll be helpful if you know the difference between 22k Gold, 18K Gold & 14K Gold. If you aren’t sure, head over to our detailed post explaining the same.
To summarise what we wrote earlier, 100% pure gold is 24K Gold and therefore
1K Gold = (100/24)% Pure = 4.16% Pure
22K Gold = (4.16 x 22)% = 91.6% Pure
18K Gold = (4.16 x 18)% = 75.0% Pure
14K Gold = (4.16 x 14)% = 58.5% Pure
Thus the ratio of gold in the mixture keeps going lower as we move from 22k to 14k to 9k. Pure gold being bright yellow, when its percentage in the mixture goes down then the mixture starts looking less yellow. For example, in 18K Gold, 75% is Gold and the other 25% are alloys. The natural colour of an 18K Gold bar would be orange-yellow whereas the colour of a 24K Gold bar would be bright-golden-yellow. The difference in the colour is due to the colour that was imparted by the 25% alloy in the mixture.
Now that we are clear about the composition of various Karats of gold, let’s get to the issue at hand. Just as the colour of the metal changes with purity, similarly the hardness & brittleness of the metal also varies significantly with change in the purity of gold. 24k Gold is really soft and is not at all feasible for use in jewellery in its original avatar. Being too soft, if we were to make jewellery using 24k gold then that jewellery would possibly get eroded very fast and also get deformed due to regular wear and tear. 22k gold which is the next level is marginally better than 24k gold and is therefore widely used in India for plain gold jewellery. Its wide use in all Indian plain gold jewellery in the past is the reason why we are answering this question today. The Indian junta is so used to 22k gold jewellery that 18k or 14k gold jewellery to them doesn’t even feel like gold. Obviously, we are not trying to generalize the whole of India’s population but we are sure you get the point.
22K Gold is Soft
22k gold is great as long as we use it for plain gold jewellery, and it’s the best option when it comes to naturally enamelled jewellery. The natural enamelling (also known as, Meenakari or Meena) gives best results when used on 22k gold as compared to other kinds of gold. But, when it comes to diamond or gemstone studded jewellery, 22k gold is not at all preferred. Diamonds are precious materials and thus it is important that the metal holding the diamond lays a strong enough hold on these precious stones such that the stones don’t fall off due to the soft 22k metal.
22K Gold Can Drop Your Precious Solitaire
In the picture below, observe the tiny metal hooks that hold the solitaire. These are called prongs. Imagine having your 1.5 carat fantastic round solitaire set in a 22k gold solitaire engagement ring.
Imagine a small accident happened and the next thing you know your precious 1.5 carat solitaire is down the kitchen drain. The chance of such a freak accident in 18k Gold ring is very small but very high in 22k gold. 22k gold being softer, prongs made of this gold can easily bend in normal wear and thus the grip on the solitaire loosens.
22K Gold Get Scratched Easily
All of the 22k gold’s headaches are due to its hardness/softness. Being soft, it gets scratched easily as compared to 14k gold. In this area, 14k gold jewellery is the best. Scratches can ruin the look of the jewellery by lowering its luster. If at all you buy 22k gold jewellery that you intend to wear for a long duration, don’t forget to get it rhodium plated. Rhodium plating will enhance the jewellery’s resistance to scratches by making the surface of the metal harder.
22k Gold Jewellery is Costlier
22k gold jewellery is 16.6% costlier than 18k gold jewellery and 33.1% costlier than 14k gold jewellery, given that this jewellery is just made of gold and nothing else. Therefore if the price of jewellery is your concern then you might want to go for jewellery made with lower karat of gold.So You Want Your Diamonds To Be Set In 22K Gold? by Shaila