Pure (solid) gold is a special metal. It has kept all of humanity mesmerized with its beauty for thousands of years and it continues to be highly valuable to this day, both as a type of proto-currency and as a jewelry material.
If you’re in the process of researching jewelry metals, however, you may have noticed that 24K gold isn’t always as valued as a jewelry metal as it sounds like it should be. Instead, many experts recommend 18K and 14K gold over 24K gold for jewelry for some reason.
So, why is solid gold not ideal as a jewelry metal? What are the pros and cons of 24K gold jewelry, and should you buy it?
What Is 24K Gold?
24 Karat gold is solid gold with no additional metals or “impurities” added to it. This pure gold is also referred to as “999 gold” or “.999 gold” because it’s 99.99% pure. Note that nothing is really ever 100% pure unless it was made in a lab.
But why is 24 the number of karats that corresponds to the maximum gold purity? Where did a 24-based system of measurement come from?
It turns out that there is a German unit of measurement called carats – with a “c” – that measured weight hundreds of years ago. So, a German coin made of pure gold would weigh 24 carats, hence why we now call pure gold “24 Karats” (with a “k”).
From there, the less gold there is in a particular “gold” alloy, the fewer karats we say there are. For example, if a particular gold alloy is made out of 75% gold and 25% other metals, we say it’s 18K or 18 Karats gold because 18 is 75% of 24.
Pros And Cons Of 24K Gold Jewelry
When we’re talking about the pros and cons of pure 24 Karat gold jewelry, it’s important to note that we’re not talking about the gold itself. Solid gold is, of course, an incredibly valuable and justifiably praised precious metal. However, when we consider whether a metal is good for jewelry, there are other criteria to consider, apart from its purity.
- 24K solid gold is pure and therefore much more valuable and prestigious than gold alloys
- The color of pure gold is unmatched by any gold alloy
- 24K gold jewelry is hypoallergenic and doesn’t cause any skin irritations unlike some of the metals occasionally used in gold alloys such as nickel
- Solid gold also doesn’t cause any unwanted skin colorations
- Pure gold’s color also doesn’t change over the years as is the case with certain other metals
- Purchasing pure gold – whether as jewelry or otherwise – can be seen as a good financial investment as the demand for gold is consistently high and its supply is perpetually low and finite
- Solid gold is just way too soft to be a good choice for jewelry you intend to wear on the regular because it will scratch and tarnish easily
- Because it’s not alloyed with any other metals, pure gold is valued more highly by jewelers and therefore is more expensive
- If it’s purchased as a type of financial investment, pure gold should pretty much never ever be worn as jewelry as that will decrease its value very quickly
- 24 Karat gold is also quite rare to source as pure gold is not often found in abundant quantities which further contributes to its hefty price. It also means that designs are limited. You will not find solid gold jewelry at most retail stores.
- Some people don’t like the overly yellow/golden hue of solid gold
Value Of 24K Gold Jewelry
The exact value of 24K gold jewelry fluctuates frequently but usually not by much. The price of gold is $1,644 per ounce at the moment of writing and has been steadily rising for the past few years.
Of course, this isn’t a recommendation to buy pure gold – as jewelry or otherwise – as a form of investment, because we can’t guarantee how the gold market is going to move going forward.
So, while, on a small scale, pure gold jewelry can be seen as a safe investment, that doesn’t necessarily translate in a larger sense. Most of the time, when we are talking about gold jewelry and its value, we are talking from the point of view of the jewelry’s value, not the gold itself. And, when it comes to its value as a jewelry material, we do prefer other metals as well as other gold alloys such as 14K and 18K gold over solid gold.
Should I Buy A 24K Gold Wedding Ring?
Our advice is that purchasing 24K gold jewelry of any kind you intend to wear regularly is not a good idea and this certainly includes engagement and wedding rings.
A different type of jewelry such as a necklace or earrings meant for very special occasions only can be accepted as then the chance of physical damage and wear and tear is lower. But jewelry you’d wear every day, especially rings to wear on your hands, just isn’t a good idea.
Pure 24K gold is a very special type of metal that has been highly valued by people all across the globe for many millennia. Yet, even though pure gold’s value continues to rise, purchasing pure 24K gold jewelry just isn’t seen as a good idea in most situations.
The reason for this is the same reason jewelry gold is typically mixed in alloys with other metals – because pure gold itself is way too soft and easy to damage to be worn as a jewelry piece every day. The fact that mixing it in an alloy also decreases the overall price and makes it more affordable is a notable side benefit.
So, while pure 24K gold jewelry is valuable and prestigious, and while it can be worn on special occasions, it’s just not a good idea to get a solid gold piece of jewelry you’d want to wear every day.