This is a question every metalsmith asks themselves at one point, what is “real” gold? Obviously it is that deep reddish yellow soft, dense, noble metal that we all know and love. I am not talking about pure gold however, I am asking what karatage constitutes “gold”? To south East Asia it is 22K to Europe it is 18K and here it 14K. In the UK it might be 9K. I do not mean what is legally acceptable either, what politicians have decided is gold or even what is culturally accepted as it.
I am wondering, what karats can be considered “real” gold. 22K might be too soft but it is certainly real gold. 18K is the international standard and is widely viewed as the “best” gold karat. However the lower karats are more controversial, as the main reason to go lower than eighteen is to lower costs, is this a valid reason to dilute the gold? If a customer desires a piece of jewellery, I would rather it be handmade in 10K than mass produced in 18K. The colour is paler and the properties worse but it still contains gold, so how can it be considered not “real”. It may not be as pure but still contains 40% real gold (although I realize it is actually 1 atom in every four due to density). I remain firmly on the fence here, making whatever a customer wants with my recommendations of course and enjoying the whatever pieces I make for myself both of higher karatage and lower, because let’s be honest, they all contain some degree of “real” gold. I am interested in hearing an opinions,