Columbia ISA
Diamonds – Guide to Buying Diamond Rings


 
 












Columbia ISA home – ›

   Search
Google SEARCH Columbia ISA Site


DIAMONDS Your Guide to Buying Diamond Rings
All About Diamond Engagement and Wedding Rings





Engagement Ring Guide

The classic engagement ring is composed of three parts, a diamond, a setting and the band. For the best value, find the setting she'll love, then devote the remainder of your budget to a beautiful, certified diamond.

How much should I spend?

The two-months salary convention is a common starting point, but you have to operate within your overall budget. Remember however that this purchase could last a lifetime.

Diamond Prices

$125 - $500
This is the minimum you can expect to spend for a diamond engagement ring.
Carat Weight: 0.15 - 0.25
Diamond Quality: Unknown (no AGS/GIA certificate)
Setting: 10-14K gold (white or yellow)




$500 - $750
Similar to the $125 - $500 range with slightly larger stones and the occasional 18K setting.
Carat Weight: 0.20 - 0.37
Diamond Quality: Unknown (no AGS/GIA certificate)
Setting: 10-14K gold (white or yellow); occasionally 18K gold

$750 - $1,000
This is the range where you start to see value for your diamond dollars. The stones are still on the small end of the scale, but you can find AGS/GIA certified stones (and thereby know the value of what you are buying). Additionally, you can find 18K gold settings and platinum settings.
Carat Weight: 0.30 - 0.5
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 14-18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$1,000 - $2,000
High quality stones in the 0.30 - 0.57 range, mid- to high quality stones in the 0.58 - 0.75 range. AGS/GIA certified stones available, as well as 18K gold settings and platinum settings.
Carat Weight: 0.30 - 0.75
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 14-18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$2,000 - $3,500
Absolutely exquisite quality diamonds in the low carat end of this range, but use caution when considering the larger stones. Make sure you are familiar with the "Four Cs" of diamond quality before purchasing. The 1-carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond).
Carat Weight: 0.40 - 1.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 14-18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum




$3,500 - $5,000
This is the lowest price range where you can reasonably expect to find some nice quality 1-carat stones. The smaller stones in this range will generally be of greater value and quality, but you can find some "lovely-to-the-eye" 1-carat diamonds.
Carat Weight: 0.50 - 1.50
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$5,000 - $7,500
Very nice quality diamonds in the low carat end (0.80 - 1.0) of this range, but use caution when considering the larger stones. Make sure you are familiar with the "Four Cs" of diamond quality before purchasing. The 2-carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond).
Carat Weight: 0.80 - 2.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$7,500 - $10,000
You can find some spectacular diamonds in this price range -- big and beautiful. The best value is generally found in the 1.00 - 1.50 carat range. You'll find less spectacular, but still absolutely lovely diamonds in the 1.51 - 1.75 carat range. The 1.76 - 2.50 carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond).
Carat Weight: 1.00 - 2.50
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$10,000 - $15,000
This is the lowest price range where you can reasonably expect to find some nice quality 2-carat stones (and the 1-carat stones in this price range will stir the heart of the toughest critic). The smaller stones in this range will generally be of greater value and quality, but you can find some "lovely-to-the-eye" 2-carat diamonds.

The 2.20 - 3.00 carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond). NOTE: While you can expect to find a varied selection of up to 2.8 carat stones, greater carat weights are less abundant and you will have a relatively small number of diamonds from which to choose.
Carat Weight: 1.00 - 3.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$15,000 - $20,000
The one carat diamonds in this price range tend to be the "Best of the Best," and are generally diamonds with the highest possible grade in one or more of the following: color, cut, and clarity. You can also expect to find very nice quality stones up to 2.50 carats.

The 2.51 - 3.00 carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond). NOTE: While you can expect to find a varied selection of up to 2.8 carat stones, greater carat weights are less abundant and you will have a relatively small number of diamonds from which to choose.
Carat Weight: 1.00 - 3.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$20,000 - $30,000
In this price range, you can expect to find excellent quality stones up to 2.80 carats. The 2.81 - 3.00 carat stones in this price range often have one or more of the following: visible inclusions (flaws), mediocre color quality ("faint yellow"), and/or a lower grade "cut" (which affects the "brilliance" of the diamond). NOTE: While you can expect to find a varied selection of up to 2.8 carat stones, greater carat weights are less abundant and you will have a relatively small number of diamonds from which to choose in each price range.
Carat Weight: 1.70 - 3.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$30,000 - $60,000
In this price range, you can expect to find excellent quality stones up to 2.80 carats.
NOTE: While you can expect to find a varied selection of up to 2.8 carat stones, greater carat weights are less abundant and you will have a relatively small number of diamonds from which to choose in each price range.
Carat Weight: 2.00 - 3.00
Diamond Quality: Varied.
Setting: 18K gold (white or yellow), Platinum

$60,000 and up
Diamonds in this price range tend to be greater than 3-carats (though not always) and will require a customized setting (standard settings generally accommodate up to three carats).

Choosing the right ring.

You partner could wear this ring for the rest of their life, so you want to ensure they like it. Whether you want your proposal to be a surprise, or to involve your partner in the decision, here are the decisions you'll need to make:

Gold or Platinum?



If you're unsure what ring metal to choose, consider the differences between 18K gold and platinum:

Platinum: the strongest, most pure metal. It will last a lifetime.

* More expensive than Gold
* Platinum jewelry is composed of 90-95% pure platinum. It is more rare than gold
* Strongest jewelry metal
* Resistant to damage
* Won't wear away
* Develops a satin finish
* Difficult to polish, repair
* Won't tarnish

Platinum is a white metal (looking similar to silver), but unlike gold it is used in jewelry in almost its pure form (approximately 95% pure). The other 5% is usually made from other metals such as gold, nickel, iridium, palladium, rhodium, or ruthenium. Platinum does not need to be Rhodium plated like white gold, as it is extremely resilient. In fact, its durability is what makes Platinum so popular. It is so strong that it doesn't splinter or whittle away like other metals, and will not need to be reinforced to make it stronger.

Platinum is a very rare, pure and highly durable precious metal. With one platinum mine for every 10 gold mines in the world, it is easy to understand why the laws of supply and demand have made platinum a more expensive metal option than gold. It's comparitive purity is another reason its price is higher than gold. In most parts of the world, platinum must have a 95% platinum composition for it to be considered platinum while gold must be only 75% pure gold to be labelled 18K. The density of the metal content in platinum makes it a highly durable, wearable, strong band or setting choice.

While it is the strongest of jewelry metals, platinum can still scratch with everyday wear. This produces sheen unique to platinum, called a patina. Many people prefer this finish. Those who prefer the shiny reflective look need only polish their jewelry to return it to its original lustre.

Care

Platinum requires little care - a soft bristled brush with a solution of soap and water is all that is needed to maintain the metal's lustre.

Price

Platinum usually costs roughly 2-4 times as much as the same piece of jewelry made in gold. This is due to the extreme heat and techniques necessary for its manufacture, as well as its density. The specific gravity of platinum is 21.5, which is somewhat heavier than gold, and so a platinum ring will feel heavier than an 18ct gold ring.

Gold: the most common engagement ring setting.

* Mixed with metal alloys to give it strength
* Softer, malleable metal
* More easily damaged
* Easy to polish, repair
* Won't tarnish

Gold is naturally yellow in color and will not tarnish, corrode or rust and is the most malleable of all metals. Pure gold is defined as 24 carat, and is too soft for most jewelry uses, so it is alloyed (mixed) with other metals to alter its properties, strength and color.

The purity of gold is measured in (karats) carats, which are expressed in 24ths. Therefore, 24-carat gold is pure, while 12-carat gold is 50% gold and 50% alloy.

24 Carat: This is pure gold and is too soft for jewelry
22 Carat: 91.7% gold and probably too soft for jewelry
18 Carat: 75% gold and used for fine jewelry
14 Carat: 58.3% gold and used for good quality jewelry
12 Carat: 50% gold and used for jewelry of a fair quality
9 Carat: 37.5% gold.

Do not confuse metal carat with diamond carat; diamond carat refers to the weight of a diamond, while metal carat (karat or K) means the purity of the gold.

Care

Keep gold jewelry away from chemicals and cleaning fluids to reduce daily scratches and prolong its lustre. Wash the jewelry gently with a soft-bristled brush using a solution of detergent-free soap and warm water. Store gold pieces separately in their original boxes or soft cloth bags to protect them from the elements.

Pricing

A point to remember is that the higher the percentage of gold, the higher the price.

White Gold

White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as nickel, silver and palladium. Yellow gold and white gold are very similar and tend to have the same alloy percentages. The only difference is the other metals used.

An example:
18-carat yellow gold and 18-carat white gold are both made from 75% gold and 25% other metals. The difference between the two metals lies only in the alloy. The yellow gold is alloyed with colored metals such as copper and zinc. The white gold is alloyed with white metals such as nickel and silver. White Gold is then Rhodium plated to give it its final shine. Although this is very effective it will eventually rub off and need replating. What gives white gold its white color is the fact that, in the final stages of its manufacturing, it is plated with rhodium, a shiny hard and durable white metal. (In time, the plating may wear and this is why it is not unusual to hear of individuals re-plating their white gold rings every 12 - 18 months, depending on wear). White gold can enhance colorless diamonds while the reflection of yellow gold can help mask the tint of yellowish diamonds by making the diamond look brighter.

Platinum or White Gold?

Platinum White Gold
Far more expensive than white gold (i.e up to three times more expensive as of 2005) Much less expensive than platinum
Weighs heavier than white gold Lighter weight than platinum
Naturally white toned Needs to be rhodium plated to be white
Density is virtually always higher than white gold Less metal purity, therefore less dense than platinum
More resistant to abrasions than white gold Less resistant to scratches than platinum, more resistant than yellow gold
Over time, platinum develops a natural patina that can be polished if a high gloss look is preferred In time, white gold often needs to be re-plated


Choosing the right setting for your diamond

An engagement ring consists of three things, the band, the setting and the gem. The band encircles your finger and is usually gold, white gold or platinum. Attached to the top of the band is the setting. The setting is the part that holds the gem or gems. The setting can be 4 prongs or 6 prongs to hold the gem or can be more complex, holding multiple gems. The gem is usually a diamond but can be other stones. Together, the band, setting and gem comprise the ring. You can choose which metals you want and there are lots of choices for settings.

There are many different settings available and it can be hard to choose.


Diamond Engagement Ring Styles

The three most common engagement ring styles to choose from are solitaire, those with sidestones or those with matching bands.

Solitaire Engagement Rings - Solitaires are the ring type sold most often. (It is estimated over two thirds of the engagement rings sold in North America are solitaire). Engagement Rings with Sidestones - In rings with sidestones, one center stone is generally surrounded by two or more complementary stones. Engagement Rings with Matching Bands - The metals of the rings and the bands are generally the same. What is different is the number and design of the stones in each.


Setting Styles for Diamond Engagement Rings

The most common setting styles for diamond engagement rings and the pros and cons of each are:

Bar - Metal bars hold the loose diamonds in a channel-like setting across a ring with the diamonds on each end of the channel being exposed.
Advantages: delivers a streamlined look. The center diamonds' girdles are protected
Disadvantages: the outer diamonds are not as well protected

Bezel (or Tube) - The Metal is formed to fit completely or partially around the diamonds, cupping it into place. Arguably the second most common setting.
Advantages:diamond is well protected; holds diamonds very securely; highlights the diamond's circumference, making it appear larger
Disadvantages: usually takes more time and is more expensive than prong or pave settings

Channel - Often used for bands or to provide an accent to center stones, the diamonds are suspended in a grooved channel of vertical walls. Unlike the bar setting, there is no metal separating the stones.
Advantages: the diamond's girdle is protected; creates a streamlined look
Disadvantages: typically more expensive than a prong setting

Invisible - The diamond is set in a groove without visible prongs.
Advantages: maximizes the diamond's brilliance because no metal blocks light from going into it; profiles the most diamond out of all the styles
Disadvantages: is the most expensive setting type due to the expertise required to do it; is difficult to find someone with the skills to carry out repairs the diamond, if not set well, is less secure

Pave (or Bead) - Tiny stones are embedded to look like the piece is paved with loose diamonds.
Advantages:typically offers better protection for the diamonds than prong settings; provides a good amount of design freedom, can make stone appear larger
Disadvantages: may not be as secure as some other settings; is a bit risky in terms of damage to the stones

Six prong Solitaire Prong - Several prongs (usually 4 or 6) hold the diamonds to let light pass through without interference. Prong is the most common type of setting.
Advantages: relatively quick to do, therefore, less expensive; more of the diamond is visible; easy to clean; sturdy & secure
Disadvantages: can get caught in clothing & hair if too high; with most of the girdle open, protection of the diamond is less


Tips

How do you know if she'll like the ring if she doesn't pick it out? Consider her tastes and lifestyle.

* Take a good look at the color of jewelry your partner wears. What color is the metal?
* Is she very active or not used to wearing jewelry? If so, consider a cathedral or contour setting, which will protect a diamond from rough treatment.

Engagements are rarely an out-of-the-blue surprise, so it is common to discuss engagement ring choices with your partner. The only way to ensure you find a ring that will match her taste and style is to shop for a ring together.

Choosing the right diamond

An engagement diamond may be the biggest purchase you've ever made. And with the right information, you'll be able to spend your budget on the diamond qualities that are most important to you. To start, find out what shape she likes. You can choose from round, oval, princess-cut, emerald-cut, Asscher-cut, marquise-cut, radiant-cut, pear-shaped, and heart-shaped diamonds. The majority of diamond engagement rings today are set with a round diamond. And most of the remaining rings are set with princess-cut diamonds.

Once you have decided on a shape the qualities are important. Please use the information here to help you make the right decision.

Wedding Ring Guide

Choosing a wedding ring does not have to be as challenging as finding the perfect engagement ring. This guide details all you'll need to know about choosing women's and men's wedding bands.

Some rings are designed to fit together, side-by-side. Many women like the symmetry of two matching rings, with diamonds of the same size and shape, or just the same type of metal.

She may choose a ring other than the one designed to match her engagement ring. This creates a unique look that is becoming popular.

Men have a few simple choices. He can select a ring thickness, choose between platinum and 18k gold, and choose a ring set with diamonds or one with a unique design. Some couples choose matching men's and women's wedding rings. To be sure you'll enjoy your rings for years to come, just choose rings that you love.

Men's Platinum and 18k Gold Rings

The most popular men's wedding rings are plain metal bands. For an element of design choose a ring with a subtle design like millgrain or a diamond set ring.

Earring Guide

Earrings make the perfect gift because they are always the right fit. The most basic jewelry wardrobe piece, she may leave the house without a bracelet, but she's almost always wearing earrings.

Most earring styles go with anything, so your gift won't cause her wardrobe issues. The wide variety of earring types, sizes, and prices available makes it easy to find the perfect pair for a gift. She'll remember you every time she wears them.

Studs: Because they're small, stud earrings are easy to wear. They go as easily with a cocktail dress as they do with jeans. You'll find a variety of prices.

Hoops: Platinum, 18k gold hoops give a feminine touch, and precious metals go with anything. For added sparkle, choose a pair with diamonds.

Other styles: You'll find a wide variety of other earring designs that can specifically fit her style. Choose platinum or 18k gold for a lasting gift.

Earrings as gifts

Diamond studs are the perfect gift for an important occasion. If she is more fashionable and follows the trends, give her princess-cut diamond studs, but if she dresses in classic styles, give round diamond studs.

Even if she has several pairs of earrings already, she'll love to add a pair of beautiful hoop earrings to her rotation. Most women prefer either the white metals or yellow gold, so look to her other jewelry to see what metal she prefers.

Pendant and Necklace Guide

A necklace or pendant adds style to anything she wears. If you give a necklace as a gift, you also have a romantic opportunity to put it on her. A necklace is any type of chain, or length of precious metal or gems, while a pendant features a single jewel.

Chains: Go with everything. A fine platinum chain in a choker length will add just a touch of shine. Consider giving her an 18-inch 18ct gold chain to add an element of visual interest to her wardrobe.

Pendants: A pendant is something she can wear with a dress or jeans. The simple design of a solitaire pendant allows all the attention to focus on a beautiful diamond solitaire. Other pendants feature shapes like a heart, or a cross made of precious metal, diamonds.

Choosing the right length.

When selecting a necklace or pendant, consider that the length will determine where it will lie on her chest. Remember that longer lengths accentuate the bust while shorter lengths feature the beautiful lines of her neck.

16in. Choker length: Just above collarbones. Emphasizes her neckline.
18in. Princess length: Hangs over collarbones. The most common length.
24in. Opera length: Over blouse or dress. A dramatic length.

Necklaces and Pendants as gifts.

If you have a special occasion like a birthday or your first wedding anniversary, consider a solitaire pendant featuring a diamond. For a very special occasion like a five- or ten-year anniversary, you might give a diamond necklace, which are the most beautiful. She'll remember the occasion every time she wears the gift.

If it's a gift for a fun occasion, like a vacation or a promotion, consider a pendant featuring an 18ct gold or platinum these are fashion pieces just for fun.

Bracelet Guide

A bracelet is one jewelry item she will see all the time, so she can appreciate it often. She also enjoys the feeling of it on her wrist reminding her of you. Some bracelets are available in different lengths. So before you purchase, be sure to measure one of her other bracelets to be sure she doesn't need a special length. Bracelets are usually worn on occasions when she isn't working with her hands. Even when not working, a bracelet's proximity to the hands causes it to get bumped and banged, so it must be very durable.

ONLINE DIAMOND BUYING

Recommended retailer: Bluenile.com
www.bluenile.com


Bluenile - 800-242-2728 : 888-565-7641




LINKS
www.GIA.edu
www.dvatche.com
KAY Jewelers


Do You Know How To Buy Your Diamond Engagement Ring?

DIAMOND SHOPPING

Here are recommendations for your safe diamond engagement and wedding ring shopping:

1. Work with a reputable Jeweler; be it Brick & Mortar or Internet. Check with your local BBB and the Jewelers Vigilance Committe (www.jvclegal.org)

2. Know what you're buying. Make sure your diamond has a lab grading report. The two most stringent, accurate, and consistent diamond grading labs are the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and the AGS (Americn Gemological Society). Insist on them.

3. If you're more comfortable shopping with a Brick & Mortar Jeweler, look at as many diamonds as you can and away from the diamond counter's high intensity halogen lights which tend to make even the ugliest darkest diamonds look D-Flawless.

4. If you're shopping with an Internet Diamond vendor, make sure that they can examine the diamond for you to determine if there are any red flags you need to know about which would dissuade you from buying the stone. A great number of Internet Vendors sell of Virtual Diamond (VD) databases and never see the diamond you're buying. The diamond is drop-shipped directly to you from the manufacturer.

5. Ask the Internet Vendor to supply you with as much information as possible, including photo's.

6. Be clear and understand the Vendor's Policies: Payment, Returns, Upgrades, etc. and any timelines or deadlines that might accompany these Policies.

7. Ask about and receive any paperwork that comes with the diamond.

8. Stay away from in-house Appraisals. Such Appaisals are inflated, will cost you undue high insurance Premiums, and is a practice that is frowned upon and not sanctioned by the reputable National Association Of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). Best is to get an evaluation and Appraisal from an Independent Appraiser that does not work for a Jewlery store and does not sell their own diamonds and jewelry. Contact NAJA for a llisting and location of such Appraisers.

Shop Smart. This is a big purchase not only in terms of money but also in terms of emotional significance.


Who Chooses The Diamond Engagement Ring?
Who influences the selection of your diamond engagement ring.
(Bridal Association of America BAA, and national jeweler official surveys)

I picked the ring out myself.................17%
My fiancee and I selected it together....28%
I gave guidelines to my fianc'e.............11%
I gave indirect hints to my fiancee.......13%
I had no influence.............................31%

CARTIER

TIFFANY Since 1837, Tiffany & Co. has been the world's premier jeweler

VERRAGIO

LASER INSCRIBE YOUR WEDDING VOWS

Wedding rings today are available in a wide range of offerings. You can almost get anything you want. One option is to laser inscribe your wedding vows on the inside surface of the ring.

Sample wedding vow:

Groom:
"I take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife, promise to love and cherish her, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and forsaking all others keep myself only unto her, for so long as I live."

Bride:
"I take this man to be my lawful wedded husband, promise to love and cherish him, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and forsaking all others keep myself only unto him, for so long as I live."

www.applesofgold.com



How to Buy Gold Jewelry

Pure gold doesn't react with any other elements you might come into contact with on a daily basis. Gold coins on ships crossing the oceans hundreds of years ago which sank to the bottom are found today still in the same condition as when they went down because gold is basically inert. You can even eat gold in a certain form and it will not harm you. Gold fillings are ideal in teeth, but expensive. Gold is the perfect metal for jewelry creations. Gold can be worked into nearly any shape, including tiny strands that do not break easily. Gold can be manipulated nearly any way the artisan desires.

Because gold has so many uses and because gold has been a standard of money for so long all over the world and because gold is relatively rare, it is expensive in dollar terms. In addition, because gold is softer than some other metals jewelry is very often not pure gold. A mix of metals is combined to form an alloy and this mix is shaped into jewelry. Sometimes people have allergy or staining problems with metals that are combined with gold, but the gold itself is rarely a problem.

How Pure Is Your Gold Jewelry?

18K, 14K, or 10K, with the K standing for karat, the system used to describe the percentage of pure gold an item contains. The higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of gold in your gold jewelry. Jewelry is usually marked so you know what amount of gold vs. other metals are in the item. In the USA and Canada you will see KARAT with a K but in other parts of the world it is spelled with a C "Carat" just like diamond carats only the meaning is different.

24K is pure gold. Almost never used because the item would not last as long as an alloyed item due to scratches from daily wear.

22K gold contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts of one or more additional metals, making it about 92% gold (91.66).

18K gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 75% gold. High quality gold jewelry is 18K.

14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 58.3% gold.

12K gold contains 12 parts gold and 12 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 50% gold.

10K gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 41.7% gold.

10K gold is the minimum karat that can still be called "gold" in the United States.
10K gold jewelry is at the bottom of the quality scale.

European Markings on gold jewelry

European gold jewelry is marked with numbers that indicate their percentage of gold, such as:

18K gold is marked 750 to indicate 75% gold
14K gold is marked 585 for 58.5%
10K gold is marked 417 for 41.7%

Other Markings on Gold Jewelry
The karat marking on your gold jewelry should be accompanied by a hallmark or trademark that identifies its maker. The item's country of origin might also be included.

Why Are Other Metals Mixed With Gold?

You'll find examples of pure gold jewelry, but pure gold is soft and isn't practical for daily wear. Other metals are mixed with it to make it more durable (and to lower its cost). Adding other metals to the mix also allows metallurgists to change the color of gold. Palladium or nickel can be added to create white gold. Adding copper produces a rose or pink tint, while silver gives gold a greenish cast. When metals are added to the gold the result is an alloy, a blended mixture of the metals. Solid gold is a term that can be used to describe an item that's at least 10K (in the USA) gold all the way through. Even though it's a gold alloy--18K, 14K, or anything down to 10K--it can be called solid gold even though it is not.

When Gold Is Used as a Coating
There are many ways to mechanically apply a coating of gold onto a much less expensive metal, reducing the item's cost. The thicker the layer of gold, the less likely it is to wear away easily and expose the metal underneath.

Gold Filled Jewelry
Newer gold filled items have markings that indicate how much and what type of gold was used for the layer. A marking that says 1/20 12K G.F. means that the jewelry is at least 1/20th 12K gold by weight.

Gold Plated Jewelry
The gold layer in gold plated jewelry is typically thinner than the gold in gold filled jewelry, so it usually wears away more quickly. Plating is done in different ways. You might see terms such as gold washed used to describe a very thin layer of gold--one that won't be very durable.

So What Should You Buy?

Solid gold is durable, so it is a better choice for jewelry you'll wear regularly. If you have allergies to nickel or other metals, choose items that have high gold content, such as 18K or 22K gold jewelry.

Gold filled or plated jewelry is suitable for jewelry that you wear occasionally. Everyday use would eventually diminish the gold layer, exposing the metal below, which might stain your skin or cause an allergic reaction. For pieces that will last a lifetime and beyond, buy the highest quality gold your budget allows.

Guide to DIAMOND Buying
How to tell if a diamond is real
How to find your ring size