Courtesy of the World Gold Council
1. Know Your Karats*
The Karat mark tells you several important things.
First, that it's real gold. Buy from a reputable retailer. Buy solid or hollow. Buy rose or green or white gold. As long as it has a Karat mark and manufacturers hallmark, you know it's real.
The Karat mark also tells you the percentage of pure gold in the piece. 24K is 100% gold. Soft and somewhat easily damaged, it's not often used in gold jewelry today. Instead, gold is alloyed with other metals such as copper, silver, nickel and zinc, to give it strength and durability. (Different proportions of these alloys are what gives gold its rose, green or white colorations.)
18K is 75% gold, 14K is 58.3% gold, and 10K is 41.7% gold.*
The higher the karatage, the richer the color will be.
2. Know How to Tell When the Price is Right
Many elements determine the price on that little tag. Once you understand them, you'll be able to judge whether a particular piece of gold jewelry offers the value you're looking for.
Karats count, as you already know. Generally, the higher the karatage of the piece (that is, the percentage of pure gold in it), the higher the price.
But price is also affected by the total weight of the piece. So all else being equal, a larger, heavier piece is likely to be more expensive than a smaller, lighter one.
You can also expect to pay more for better design and construction. It makes jewelry both easier to slip on and off and more comfortable to wear.
Ornamental detailing, such as engraving or a diamond laser finish, or a special matte or florentine finish, also adds to the cost. And although nearly all gold jewelry is made with the help of special machines, some hand work is always involved. The more there is, the higher the price will be.
Now that you know the factors that increase price, here's some very good news. Through new manufacturing technology, large, dazzling pieces can be surprisingly affordable. And especially light, and comfortable to wear, too.
Ultimately, the way to make sure that you're getting the best value is to take your time shopping.
Try on various pieces. And compare karatage, craftmanship, and price before you buy.
3. Start Buying a Gold Wardrobe Now
Try thinking about gold jewelry as you would clothing. In both cases, you should start with great basic, that will give you a lot of wear and a lot of style.
To begin building your basic Gold Wardrobe, you need the following essentials: a necklace, a pair of classic button-style earring, and a pair of hoop earrings. And add -on pendants for a quick change of looks.
Choose these key pieces carefully, because you'll be wearing them so often. Try them on. Make sure they're comfortable - and that they fit well with your taste and your lifestyle, too.
Later, you'll go on from basics, adding special pieces for special occasions, for special drama, or just for joy.