22K and 24K Gold Jewelry Buyers Guide (2018)

Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst, GoldSilver 

Other than diamonds, no adornment is as beautiful and captivating as pure gold jewelry.

22k and 24k Gold jewelry is alluring, elegant, and magnifies the beauty of the wearer. It’s why humans have crafted jewelry from gold for thousands of years. Its innate beauty conjures up feelings of beauty, power, and wealth.

It is no stretch to say that one can never go wrong buying a beautiful piece of gold jewelry. It is timeless.

However, there are good and bad ways to buy gold jewelry. With this buyer’s guide, we hope to help people avoid making mistakes while purchasing gold jewelry. Some of the questions we’ll look to answer in this guide include:

  • What’s the difference between 22k and 24k gold?
  • What is 18k, 14k, and 12k gold?
  • Where to buy solid gold jewelry?
  • What gold jewelry should you buy?
  • How long should a gold necklace be?
  • When is pure gold jewelry an appropriate gift?
  • Why else should you buy gold jewelry?

While fashion jewelry often mimics the look of gold, it doesn't have the heft of real gold. That lack of heft means it’s probably costume jewelry. Real gold jewelry, on the other hand, stands the test of time in the world of fashion.

This guide will help you find the right piece of gold jewelry, whether buying for yourself or as a gift. We also point out the additional advantages you can gain by buying investment-grade gold jewelry.

First, some basics…

What’s the Difference Between 22K and 24K Gold Jewelry?

The term “karat” (with a K) refers to the fineness of gold, the term carat (with a C) refers to the weight of gemstones. Karat is symbolized as K or Kt and will be followed by a purity rating of 10, 12, 14, 18, 22, or 24. In most advanced countries, jewelers are required by law to stamp their gold jewelry with its karat rating.

The higher the karat, the purer the gold. 24K signifies 99.9% purity, the highest you can buy.

24K gold is bright yellow. Its beauty and shine is unmistakable.

Gold jewelry stamped 22K is approximately 91% pure gold, with the other 9% usually consisting of copper, silver, or other metals.

You can also buy gold jewelry with less gold. Here’s the gold content per karat.

Karat% Gold

Since 24K is pure gold, don’t let a dealer try to sell you 25K or 26K gold!

Should I Buy 22K or 24K Gold Jewelry? 

Most “gold” jewelry sold today is 14 karat. Only 58% of it is gold. To get the most gold for your money, look for 22K or 24K.

So which is best?

Gold is heavy and it doesn’t tarnish, but it is softer than most other metals. The advantage of this softness is that is makes gold malleable (easy to shape and mold into tiny pieces). Silver jewelry, for example, does tarnish, one of its differences to gold, so it needs more care. And while 24K gold is brilliant in color, it is also warmer-toned than most other jewelry. Last, because it contains more gold, 24k jewelry is slightly more valuable than jewelry of the same weight but lesser purity. 

The disadvantage of 24K gold jewelry is that it can break and is scratched easily. Also, since 24K is pure gold, it is usually a tad more expensive than 22K or 18K.

22K jewelry is a little more durable than 24K, since it is mixed with harder metals like copper or silver. 18K and 14K contain even more base metals and are thus more durable. But since they contain less gold, a discerning eye can pick up the difference.

So this is the primary reason you’ll find more 22K gold jewelry for sale then 24K; it is stronger and more durable.

By the way, the terms yellow, rose and white gold roughly correspond to the amount of gold content and the type of the other metal that is alloyed (blended) with the gold to make it stronger. The redder the gold, the higher the copper content. The whiter the gold, the higher the silver content. 22K or 24K is yellow gold.

Some people prefer the luster of pure 24K gold, while others may want the greater durability and lower cost. Either way, you’ll want to handle your gold jewelry with care.

Here’s Looking at You, Kid: How to Buy the Right Size

If you can’t try the piece on in a store, here are a few guidelines to select the right size. If you’re buying as a gift, this info can help you identify what might look best on your recipient.

Necklaces for women: These range from 10 to 48 inches and everywhere in between. Most women’s necklaces are sold in even-inch lengths.

Here are the most common necklace lengths for women and where they fall on the average female body:

Women's Necklace LengthPosition
10 to 14 inchesWraps closely around neck
16 inchesWraps loosely around neck
18 inchesSits near the collarbone
20 inchesSits below the collarbone
22 inchesLays near top of bust
24 inchesLays at or below center of bust
28 to 38 inchesHangs below bust

Be aware that the clasp or connector that holds the necklace together is typically not included in necklace size measurements. A standard clasp is ¾ of an inch long. Some may be longer, so take this into account when considering the length.

Necklaces for men: These typically range from 18 to 24 inches, and are also usually manufactured in even-inch lengths.

Here’s the most common necklace lengths for men and where they fall on the average male frame:

Men's Necklace LengthPosition
18 inchesSits at base of neck
20 inchesSits at collarbone
22 inchesFalls at or below collarbone
24 inchesFalls to the upper chest

Bracelets for women: The standard size for a women’s bracelet is 7-7½ inches. The bracelet will hang between the hand and wrist bone, which fashion experts say is the most attractive position.

Measuring: For necklaces, use a soft flexible tape measure and wrap closely around your neck. The tape should be snug but not suffocating. If you want a collar or choker, add 2 inches to your neck measurement (which is considered one size for necklaces).

For bracelets, measure at the broadest part of the wrist (just below the wrist bone), then add about a half inch. This is your approximate bracelet size. If you add more the bracelet will hang lower on the hand; if you add less it’ll be tighter.

If you don’t have a flexible tape measure for a necklace, cut pieces of string in four sizes: 8", 10", 12", and 14". Then try each on and decide whether length is preferred. Keep in mind that multiple lengths can fit one person; different lengths provide a different fashion effect.

When to Buy Gold Jewelry

Here are the most popular holidays and events for giving gold jewelry as a gift in America and around the world:

• Birthday
• Wedding anniversary
• Bridal shower
• Marriage engagement
• Wedding day surprise
• Graduation
• Thank you or appreciation
• Apology or ‘get out of the dog house’
• Christmas
• Religious holidays
• Valentine’s Day
• Mother’s Day
• Father’s Day

The reason gold jewelry can be an ideal gift is because it can be handed down from generation to generation.

Remember, gold lasts forever; it doesn't corrode, tarnish, melt, or rust. It has no time limit. It’ll still be beautiful when your great-grandchildren wear it. Consider that the gold jewelry worn by the women and men of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt are still beautiful pieces today!

And if you buy investment-grade gold jewelry, you can inherit other advantages…

Bullion JewelryTM is an Adornment and Investment

Bullion jewelryTM is simply gold jewelry that is comprised solely of gold, and has no other gems or frills.

As you probably know, most jewelry pieces today contains other metals, gems, or artsy components. The difference can be striking.

The advantage of investment-grade or bullion jewelryTM is that it will rise in value commensurate with the price of gold. Since most modern jewelry contains other decorative items, it will not necessarily appreciate with the gold price.

Gold bullion jewelry, on the other hand, will appreciate over time. It will grow in value, since it is more closely tied to the price of gold. Most jewelry today cannot be sold back at its original cost.

With a beautiful piece of gold bullion jewelry, you have not just an alluring adornment that can be enjoyed, but an asset that will become more valuable over time. This type of jewelry is truly an investment.

Bullion JewelryTM Boasts Protections You Didn’t Know You Needed

Investment-grade gold jewelry can offer advantages most people are unaware of…

• It can be a portable store of wealth. It can make traveling and transporting some of your assets simpler and easier. It can always be accessed.

•  It makes giving wealth to your heirs or as a gift more straightforward, even if they don’t understand the value of gold today.

•  Gold bullion jewelry comes with much lower premiums than most fashion gold jewelry. 

•  It is subject to less tax and reporting complexity.

•  Gold jewelry is an asset you can keep outside of the banking system. It could even help you avoid a future gold confiscation.

•  And since it is gold, it can be an insurance policy in the event you need money down the road. It can be sold much more easily and at a better price than costume jewelry.

The catch is, most gold jewelry doesn’t qualify as investment grade. Those stores in the mall sell mostly 14-karat gold—and at premiums two, three and four times the melt value of the gold content. Designer jewelry simply is not a practical or efficient way to store wealth; Tiffany’s won’t buy back your gold necklace at anywhere near what you paid for it.

Investment-grade jewelry, on the other hand, is specifically designed for wearing your wealth, at a reasonable markup, that should appreciate over time. It’s hard to pass up that advantage.

That’s why GoldSilver.com is excited about its exclusive and expanded line of investment-grade, pure gold jewelry. All our pieces are 22 karat (91% gold) and 24 karat (99.9% gold).

And they’re beautiful:

22K Byzantine Gold Necklace (22" Length)

22K Rio Gold Necklace (22" Length)

24K Hand Forged Gold Bangle

Consider the timeless beauty and prosperity that gold bullion jewelry can offer. See our full line of gold pieces here.