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Updated 20:42 01/03/21

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10k Gold


10k gold is an abbreviation that refers to 10-karat gold. Pure gold and silver are naturally soft and malleable metals. For virtually all practical applications, gold must be mixed or alloyed with other harder metals. Therefore, most items referred to as gold are not pure gold, but alloys. Because of the high cost of gold it is then important to know what proportion of precious metal has been used, to make an accurate valuation.

There are two commonly accepted units that measure the purity of gold jewellery. They are carat - or karat in the US - and the international millesimal system, or fineness.

Carat measures purity in parts of 24. Therefore 10k gold refers to 10-karat gold, and is 10 parts of gold to 14 parts of other metals.

Fineness measures the gold content in parts of a thousand - 999.999 being pure gold. 10k gold then would be equal to 416 fineness. As a percentage it is 41.6% gold.

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Carat and equivalent fineness

Karats Parts of Gold Purity (%) Millesimal Fineness
24K 24/24 99.9 999
22K 22/24 91.7 916/917
18K 18/24 75 750
14K 14/24 58.3 583/585
12K 12/24 50 500
10K 10/24 41.7 416/417
9K 9/24 37.5 375


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What are the differences between 9, 10, 18 and 22 carat gold?
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When buying jewellery the choice of fineness is a balance between value and resistance to wearing.

High fineness jewellery has greater value, and is more tarnish resistant. Lower fineness jewellery, like 10-carat, is more affordable and also more hard-wearing. 10-carat is hard wearing and affordable but may tarnish. By comparison 22-carat is more easily damaged, more resistant to tarnish but also more expensive. This means 10k gold would be a popular choice for jewellery, and gold items likely to get worn down. Conversely, investment gold is generally struck in 24-carat or 22-carat.

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10 carat gold
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Currently 10-carat gold is not a commonly used purity in UK jewellery. It is more common in the US, where it is the lowest permitted purity of US gold jewellery. 9-carat is more common in the UK and is the lowest purity allowed in the UK.

However, with the growth of international online shopping 10 carat gold pieces of jewellery are becoming more common in Britain. 10-carat, like 9-carat, is not regarded as fine jewellery. Both are, however, affordable and hard-wearing.

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10 carat gold marking
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The UK has a long history of legally required hallmarks for both gold and silver. Currently all UK gold items under one (1) gram must be hallmarked. There are three compulsory marks. They are the maker or importer’s mark, the assay office mark and the gold purity.

The purity is shown in fineness. Traditionally the gold mark is contained in an eight-sided shape. The UK also recognises international convention marks. These are contained in two circles with weighing scales.

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The US marking system is less restrictive; only a maker's mark is compulsory. The Federal Trade Commission does however recommend that jewellery should carry a purity mark. 416 and 417 fineness are therefore often indicated simply by the letters 10k.
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10 carat gold colours
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The metals used in gold alloys change its gold colour or tint. 10k gold can be made in a huge range of colours, but the three major shades are yellow, white and rose.

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Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper or zinc. Rose gold is made by alloying with more copper than silver. White gold is alloyed with silver. White gold is also made by rhodium plating, this also gives an extremely hard finish.

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  • 10k gold is 417 fineness
  • 10-karat is more common in the US than UK
  • 10-carat gold is a hard-wearing affordable gold alloy
  • 10-carat is made in a range of colours