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10k Gold

10k gold is an abbreviation that commonly refers to 10 karat gold. Pure gold is a naturally soft and malleable metal, and therefore in virtually all practical applications gold must be mixed or alloyed with other harder metals. As a result, most items referred to as gold are not pure gold, but alloys, and 10k gold is one such alloy. Because of the high cost of gold it is 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, which 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.

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

What are the differences between 9, 10, 18 and 22 karat gold?

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 karat, is more affordable and also more hard-wearing. 10k gold jewellery has a high durability and is affordable, but may tarnish. By comparison 22 karat is more easily damaged, but is more resistant to tarnish and 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 karat or 22 karat.

10 carat gold

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, however both are affordable and hard-wearing.

10 carat gold marking

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, and for 10k gold would appear as below.

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.

10 carat gold colours

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.

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. 10 karat gold then is a versatile metal choice, popular for jewellery on account of its durability and low cost.

At BullionByPost we can buy scrap gold jewellery at competitive rates. Visit our scrap gold calculator for a live estimate.

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