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Gold and Silver Jewelry - Facts and Tips
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Neither pure gold nor pure silver is hard enough to be made into jewelry such as necklaces or earrings. Other metals are mixed with gold or with silver which make them harder, and less expensive.

Gold, when mixed with one or more other metals can be called gold if there is at least 10 parts gold out of 24 parts (about 41.7% gold). Ten parts gold out and 14 parts other metal(s) make an alloy of 10 per 24 parts gold or 10K for 10 Karat gold:
24K is 24 parts gold per 24 parts or pure gold (100%).
18K is 18 parts gold per 24 parts or 75% gold.
14K is 14 parts gold per 24 parts or about 58.3% gold.
12K is 12 parts gold per 24 parts or 50% gold.
10K is 10 parts gold per 24 parts or about 41.7% gold.

European jewelry is marked in parts gold per 1000 parts, therefore:
24K is 1000 or 100% gold.
18K is 750 or 75% gold.
14K is 583 or about 58.3% gold.
12K is 500 or 50% gold.
10K is 417 or about 41.7% gold.

Silver can not be labeled silver or sterling silver unless it is at least 92.5% pure silver. (925 means 925 parts silver per 1000 parts or 92.5% silver).

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Either nickel or palladium added to gold will make it more grayish or white. Copper added to gold will give it a pinkish or redish hue. Silver added to gold will make it greenish.

Copper is usually added to silver, but platinum added to silver makes it harder, tarnish less, and cost more.

Gold washed is a very thin coating of gold over as stronger metal.

Gold plated is also a thin coating of gold over a stronger metal.

Gold filled is generally a thicker layer than washed or plated. A piece marked 1/20 14K G.F. means it is at least 1/20 of 14 Karat (Gold Filled) by weight.

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Skin stains from Sterling silver are more often caused by the tarnish and are black. These stains can usually be avoided by polishing with a good, non-abrasive, silver-polish.

Skin Stains from gold are either caused by the wearing off of gold plate or layer of gold filled exposing harder metal inside, or an allergic reaction to the alloy (metal mixed with the gold).

If the gold layer (plate or filled) is worn off, you may wish to have a jeweler to restore it , or at least coat it.

If you are allergic to a gold alloy, it is good to know which one. A copper allergy causes a greenish stain. Nickle can cause an itchy red stain. 18K gold of course would cause a lesser reaction than a smaller Karat. Also, a jeweler can apply a clear coating that will help for a while. (Even clear nail polish can be used.)

To avoid skin staining, generally keep gold or silver tarnish-free and keep your skin dry when wearing it. Also, a clear coating will help.

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