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-Serving the Las Vegas community for over 80 years-
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Gold Jewelry

Since diamonds are usually mounted in gold rings, gold earrings, gold bracelets, etc., it is extremely important to know some of the facts about gold jewelry.

A Karat (k or kt) is the amount of pure gold present in the Arabic word Qirat, or the Greek word Keratin, all of which mean the fruit of the Carob tree.

The seeds of the Carob fruit were used in ancient times for weighing gems. Pure gold weighed 24 "karats".

If an item is 24 karat, that means the item is 24 parts out of 24 parts, 100% pure. When it is 18 karat it is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts some other metal used for strength, 75% pure. To calculate purity simply divide the stated karat weight by 24; i.e. 12 karat equals 12/24, equal to 50% pure

In some countries, the purity of gold is indicated by a number representing how many parts are pure out of a possible 1,000. For example, the number "750" means 750 parts out of 1,000 are pure gold; 75%.

For jewelry to be called "gold" legally, minimum standards have been established in many countries. The laws vary amoung the different countries. In the United States, to be called "gold" the content must be 10 parts or 10k; in England and Canada it is 9k; and in Italy and France it is 18k. In the U.S. the law allows a tolerance of 1/2 part, in other words, if a piece is marked 14k the allowable minimum purity is 13.5k.

If a piece is marked 14kp the "p" indicated 14k"plumb", meaning it is exactly 14k, not a fraction less. Underkarating means that jewelry is marked to indicate a certain gold content, but the jewelry actually contains less gold than is indicated. For example, the jewelry may be marked 18k but actually contain 8k. To be aware of what the actual karat is, an acid test can be done which will give a general idea of what the karat is. Selling underkarated gold is a violation of the law.

Colors of Gold

Pure gold is always yellow, but pure gold is usually too soft for jewelry.

White gold contains gold, nickel, zinc, silver, platinum, and/or palladium. White gold differs in price depending on what is mixed with the yellow gold. White gold alloyed with palladium is more expensive than yellow or white gold containing any other alloys except platinum. White gold alloyed with platinum is more expensive than other white gold alloys.

Green gold contains gold, silver, copper and/or zinc. Pink gold contains gold, copper and sometimes silver.

There is also 14k gold jewelry plated with 18k gold which gives a stronger yellow color.

White gold is frequently plated with rhodium, which is a rare and more expensive metal from the platinum family, it gives a whiter, brighter finish.

Pure gold doesn't discolor the skin or tarnish, but there can be chemical reactions from any of the alloys used with gold. The higher the gold content the less possibility of chemical reaction occurring.

The price of a piece of jewelry is based upon weight, cost of labor and workmanship, type of construction, means of construction (was it hand made or machine made?), and how it is finished. Constuction, is it simple or complex? Is it a design that requires a lot of labor or a little? Does it require a special skill, talent, or equipment?

The following chart shows the three main designations of gold purity.

American Markings (Karats) 24k - 10k
European Marking : (Fineness) 100% - 37.5%
Pure Gold Content -(partes por mil) 1000 - 37.5
  • 24k = 100.00% pure = 1000 ppt
  • 22k = 91.7% pure = 917 ppt
  • 20k = 83.3% pure = 833 ppt
  • 19k (Portugal) = 79.20% pure = 792 ppt
  • 18k = 75.00% pure = 750
  • 15k (as seen in antiques) = 62.5% pure = 625
  • 14k = 58.5% pure = 585
  • 12k = 50.00% pure = 500 ppt
  • 10k = 41.6% pure = 416 ppt
  • 9k = 37.5% pure = 375 ppt

The information contained here is not intended to make its readers experts in the field of jewelry. The intent is to give the customer an idea of what to look for when shopping for jewelry and enough knowledge so the customer can formulate questions concerning the merchandise and understand the answers without becoming confused. Basically it is to keep the customer informed so as to minimize the chance of succumbing to a sales pitch and getting less than what was desired.


We have a GIA Certified Gemologist on staff.

Pioneer Pawn is located at 520 N. Eastern Ave in Pioneer Plaza -- Between I-95 exit 73 and Bonanza rd in Pioneer Plaza
Just look for the the sign with the big covered wagon and Pioneer Sam.


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Pioneer Loan and Jewelry
520 N. Eastern Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Office hours are from 9am to 8:00pm Monday through Saturday
and 10am to 5pm Sundays

Phone: (702) 384-2970 or (800)-943-1100
  FAX: (702) 384-2465