10-karat gold is a popular material for jewelry, and a lot of rings, bracelets, and necklaces are made with it. But how good is 10K gold, especially compared with other alternatives? Let’s take a closer look at its pros and cons.
The Composition of 10K Gold
10-karat gold is made up of 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts other metals, such as copper, zinc, nickel, manganese, etc.
Since the gold content in 10K jewelry is 10 parts out of 24, its percentage of gold purity can be easily calculated to be 41.7% (10/24 x 100).
What Makes 10K Gold Good for Jewelry?
The two attributes that make 10-karat gold a good choice for jewelry are its hardness, which makes this type of gold very durable, and its relatively low price.
Let’s look at these characteristics in more detail:
10K gold is perhaps the hardest type of gold when compared to higher-karat alloys.
(In some countries such as the U.S., alloys with purity lower than 10 karats cannot be sold as gold.)
More than half of 10-karat gold is actually made up of other metals, which make the alloy harder – gold is too soft to be used in jewelry in its pure form.
As a result of its hardness, 10K gold jewelry is very durable, relatively speaking. In comparison, alloys such as 18K or 20K gold scratch much more easily, and jewelry made with them is easier to bend.
10K gold is cheaper than higher-karat alloys, as it contains less pure gold. If you calculate a price per ounce or gram for a 10-karat jewelry piece, you will see that it is more affordable than purer alternatives.
The low price of 10-karat gold, together with its durability, makes it a good choice for someone who is price conscious and looks for jewelry that will last long.
What Makes 10K Gold Not So Good for Jewelry?
Of course, 10-karat gold also has its drawbacks. Let’s see what they are:
More Likely to Cause an Allergic Reaction
There are people who get a skin rash when wearing gold jewelry. Usually, this allergic reaction is not to gold but to the other metals in the alloy, and more specifically, nickel.
For people with such an allergy, lower-karat pieces are more likely to cause skin issues, as this type of jewelry contains less gold and more of the problematic metal.
Because of its relatively low purity, 10K gold is not the best choice if you are allergic to nickel (unless the piece is nickel free). Instead, 14K, 18K, or 20K gold might suit you better.
Its Yellow Color Is Not as Rich
Many people shun 10K gold on account of it not having the intense yellow tone of higher-karat alloys, such as 18K gold.
Indeed, 10-karat jewelry contains less gold and may look whiter.
However, whether you will notice any difference depends on the karat number of the pieces you are comparing 10K gold with – for example, 14K pieces might not look much different.
Should You Buy 10K Gold Jewelry?
In the end, whether 10K gold is the right choice for you depends on what you are looking for.
10-karat jewelry is a good choice if you want to buy a durable piece that you will wear often and you need something inexpensive.
If you think you might be sensitive to gold alloys and want your jewelry to have a rich yellow color, then you might want to check out higher-karat pieces.