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Demystifying Gold When You Shop for Jewelry in the DC Area

Buying Jewelry in Vienna, VA? Read On!


Everybody knows that gold is yellowish and silver is whitish. Right? Beyond that, there are distinctions that should be made clear and bear repeating, even if you’ve heard them before. For starters, there is no such thing as “pure” gold, at least not in jewelry. The purest gold is 24 karat, where a karat is a measure of purity; in this state, gold is far too soft to be practical as jewelry. Twenty-two karat gold—meaning 22/24 of the gold are pure—is about the highest purity ever used for jewelry; the remaining parts are copper or silver to give the piece strength. Because even 22K gold is weak and prone to easy wearing, less pure mixes—18, 14, and even 9 or 10K—are more frequently seen.

Yellow Gold Mesh and Diamond Flex Bangle Bracelet

Yellow Gold Mesh and Diamond Flex Bangle Bracelet

Most rose and pink gold is 18K and is mixed mostly with copper, which give it the reddish tint. Copper alloys were common in the 19th century, which is why you see a lot antique jewelry in rose gold. Sometimes zinc can help soften the reddish tones given off by copper. This is done because it’s more expensive to alloy with silver, which gives the gold a brighter color. You’ll find a variety of gold examples when you browse pawn shops in Vienna, VA.

Garnet Cuff Link and Stud Button Set By William Ruser

Garnet Cuff Link and Stud Button Set By William Ruser

The amount of gold in a piece of jewelry determines its price—the higher the gold content, the more expensive. This is important to keep in mind when you see two rings that look exactly alike, but have very different price tags. You get what you pay for: gold doesn’t tarnish, but the metal alloys do, so the less gold you have in your jewelry, the more likely it is to turn green or black. This is particularly true of 9K gold jewelry, which isn’t even fifty percent pure gold. Pawns shops in Northern Virginia carry gold jewelry in all price points.

Yellow Gold Frog Pin

Yellow Gold Frog Pin

All fine jewelry should be stamped either with a percentage (916 for 91.6 percent or 22, e.g.), so check for that as a hallmark of quality and integrity in design. If you have any questions, ask us at Vienna Jewelry on Maple Avenue. We’re happy to answer your questions.

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