What Does 14k Gold Mean?

Fourteen-karat gold is gold that has been alloyed with equal parts silver and copper in order to provide additional durability and rigidity in jewelry, with the final product containing 58.3 percent gold, by volume. This same practice is applied to many gold products, because pure gold is too soft to be used as jewelry or other products.

In general, jewelers dislike using pure gold because of its softness. Jewelry crafted using such flexible material needs either to be extremely thick and bulky, or it will eventually become warped through wear. By happenstance, during the process of creating a lower-quality gold, it was discovered that the gold itself could be colored by the other metals involved in the process. The resulting red and white gold offer jewelers yet another option when creating new pieces which can still be sold as gold, but which are both unique and less expensive than raw gold itself. In nearly every case, gold jewelry of any color or quality is stamped with it's karat rating. This mark can be found on the underside of rings or bracelets, and on the clap of necklaces and watches. Larger earrings may also have a stamp on their obverse side.