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What is 14k Gold & Why Is It Valued?

Nov 26, 2007
The measure of karats, abbreviated as "k," expresses the level of purity in a piece of gold. The purest gold is 24k, but to understand the true meaning of karats, it's best not to be mislead by the connotations of "purity." In other words, although the raw, pure gold is more valuable on the open market than less pure gold, it is extremely soft and malleable, making it essentially useless for jewelry and other applications. Because of this, in order to create the jewelry items that we love and give as gifts, pure gold must be mixed with harder materials, such as copper and silver, and brought to a state of balance.

This is why 14k gold has long been the most widely used gold for American jewelry; it strikes the perfect balance between versatility and purity. To create the perfect balance, pure gold is first melted, and then the melted gold is alloyed with smaller percentages of other precious metals, which take away neither from the gold's shine, nor from its weight. Once the alloy has reached the perfect balance, the 14k gold is then ready to be shaped into jewelry and set with diamonds and gemstones. From beginning to end, the entire process requires great expertise and skill on the part of jewelry artisans, which is part of the reason why jewelry can be costly.

Historically, gold has always been valued, but jewelry technology hasn't always been able to produce the perfect, 14k purity we enjoy today. The metal, which is found throughout the world in river beds, alluvial deposits, and in underground concentrations, was first recognized for its unique qualities by the earliest human civilizations.

Indeed, throughout history, there has been almost no group of people that didn't appreciate gold and use it in some way. The Ancient Egyptians employed it for a variety of decorated uses, while the ancient Turkish kingdom of Lydia is said to be the source of the first gold coins, during the 7th century B.C. Later, gold provided the impetus for much colonialism and European expansion throughout the world, including the expeditions to America that lead to the formation of the United States.

It's difficult to pin down the historical reasons for gold being favored over other precious metals, but undoubtedly its unique color and heavy weight spoke to early peoples as symbols of unique spiritual qualities. Few naturally occurring stones have such a distinctive and alluring color, which must have delighted early peoples, who had none of the understanding of chemistry and geology that we have today.

Since then, gold has taken on a variety of meanings, and to this day, its meanings continue to change. Most commonly, because of its value and preciousness, gold has been associated with royalty, wealth, luxury, and affluence -- for better or worse. Plus, because gold objects have always made great gifts and rewards, today gold awards are given to the top athletes at the Olympics, as well as to winners in a variety of other competitions, sporting and otherwise

Also, in the modern world, the durability and easy recognition of gold have given rise to the "gold standard," a fixed weight of gold that defines monetary values throughout the world, contributing to our ability to trade and have commerce with foreign countries. The gold standard not only relies upon gold for its measurement, but it also assures that gold will be the most important and sought-after precious metal for centuries to come.

As for the prominence and value of 14k gold in American jewelry -- the reasons are simple. No other precious metal is as versatile and beautiful as 14k gold. We don't even have to consider the history or the science of gold; 14k gold is simply a wonderful, lasting, and symbolic material, always perfect for gifts, and always pleasant to the eye and to the touch.
About the Author
Lulu Bells Treasures has been offering high quality 14k gold, sterling silver, diamond and gemstone jewelry online since 2003. Visit them today at http://www.lulubells.com to view their large selection of 14k gold jewelry and gifts. Use coupon code AM0807 for $10 off orders over $150.

Lulu Bells Treasures is a registered trademark owned by Lulu Bells Treasures, Inc.
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