Yellow gold is an attractive precious metal which appeals to lovers of contemporary or classic jewellery. There is a huge range of yellow gold items to choose from, including wedding rings, necklaces , ornaments, fine jewellery, costume jewellery, earrings , and bracelets . You can choose from antique, vintage, or contemporary pieces. When buying yellow gold, it is important to understand the types of yellow gold, their purity, and the hallmarks that identify each piece.
Karat is the measurement which reflects the purity of gold. The karat number refers to the gold content, and the higher the karat, the more pure gold the piece contains. Pure gold is 24 karats, and has no other metals alloys within it. This makes it the most costly yellow gold, but also the least durable. Gold is generally an alloy of metals such as silver and copper, as well as gold, to harden the soft gold. Therefore, pure gold is very soft, exceedingly malleable, and easy to damage. Opt for 18-karat gold, which is 75 per cent pure, 14-karat gold at 58 per cent purity, or 9-karat gold, which is 37.5 per cent pure. Because of the softness of 24-karat yellow gold, many buyers prefer to compromise slightly on purity and opt for 18-karat gold, which provides the majority of the opulence of pure gold, but makes it a more practical precious metal.
Hallmarks are vital. Hallmarks, or assay marks, should be on every gold item, regardless of purity, produced in countries that follow the codification standard. There are a set of marks on every gold item. They include a maker's mark, which tells you who produced the piece. Every piece of gold produced in the United Kingdom since 1798 features a crown, or Gold Standard Mark. There is also a fineness mark, represented as a number, which indicates purity. For U.K. gold, you also find a mark that indicates which assay office hallmarked the piece. One stamp also indicates the year of the yellow gold hallmark and its fineness.
There are numerous types of items classed as yellow gold pieces, but only actual gold items carry a hallmark. Other types include filled gold, which is base metal with a pressure-bonded layer of at least 10-karat gold over the top. Rolled gold consists of a base metal with a very thin layer of gold sheet fused to it, then rolled out to create items. Gold-plated items consist of base metal which undergoes an electro-chemical plating process to add a fine layer of gold plate. Gold leaf is simply gold plating pounded with a jeweller's hammer, and then applied to the object, cast in base metal by hand.