Pure Gold

20 December 2001

You've cleared away all of the Christmas wrappings and ribbon, and you look at the gifts of jewellery that your loved ones brought this year: a ring, a necklace, a locket. But what does "18 carat" really mean? Not all that glitters is gold...

Pure gold is very soft - much too soft to survive the wear and tear of daily life. We must add other metals to gold to increase its hardness, and make it suitable for our jewellery and many other uses.

Pure gold is referred to as 24 carat gold - which means that 18 carat gold is 18 parts gold and 6 parts of another metal, such as copper or silver. And nine carat gold is only nine parts gold, with the other 15 parts being made up of some other metal.

But even though your new nine carat earrings are less than half gold, when it really boils down to it, it's the thought that matters, right? And now you know they're as tough as nails.

Topic contact: media@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 4, 2013