Understanding gold chains, carat (ct) weights, and buying gold chains

There are shoppers who haven’t got the slightest idea where to start looking in the enormous array of gold chains and jewellery available on the markets today. This page might help you if you are looking for the basic element of jewellery, the gold chain.

A guide to buying a gold chain or necklace

Gold chainMany buyers and wearers of gold chains appreciate the fact that gold jewellery never seems to go out of style. Not only is it a durable metal, but it does not naturally rust or tarnish. It is also non-reactive, and it offers countless options in terms of colored alloys and the various designs when combined with both precious and semi-precious stones. When thinking about how to buy a gold necklace for yourself, or for a loved one, there are a few things you will want to consider as you browse through the various gold necklace styles.

Consider your basic needs

Thinking about both your current and future needs is an important step when determining how to buy a gold necklace. Consider how regularly you will wear your jewelry, and especially whether you do so as an accessory to your outfit or for sentimental reasons (pendant with a dead parent, etc).

Also, considering your skin tone, and what you generally like to wear, will help you in figuring out how to choose a particular gold necklace. When you shop for gold necklaces, you will have the opportunity to purchase many gold necklace styles and designs for both men and women.

Gold necklaces offer you many benefits over other items of jewellery, including versatility, and there are many unique designs with to express your personality. For example, you can wear gold chains with an array of pendants. If you need a gift, a gold necklace might be the perfect choice due to the versatility, perceived value, and the durability of gold.

Consider the length and weight of the chain

When you are thinking about how to buy a gold necklace, remember that your personal tastes (or the person you are buying for) is one of the most important factors. Everyone’s wardrobe is different, and having necklaces with different lengths will make it easier for you to accessorize your outfits and to adapt to changes to your clothing style. When looking at a collar bone length necklace, consider measuring your neck and choosing a chain that is at least 4″ longer.

The general rule is that a man’s necklace should be longer than a woman’s. The standard length preferred by men is 18″ – 19″. Additionally, a man’s chain – that rests on the collarbone – might measure at 16″ while a woman’s necklace that rests on the same point may be as little as 14″.

Consider the different types of gold necklaces

There are several designs to consider when figuring out how to buy a gold necklace. Think about the following types and how they might each affect or attract to your particular needs or desires.

Curb design: These gold necklaces have different widths and are designed with interlocking links of the same length.

Figaro design: A Figaro chain has several tiny circular links with a long oval link in between. This type of design is usually designed for men’s jewelry.

Rope design: The rope chains have an intertwining feature that is made to look like a rope (also known as a Prince of Wales style). Rope chains have two main designs: a delicate version (straight rope) and heavier designs (twisted rope). If you would like to wear your necklace with a pendant, consider the delicate model.

Rolo design: When the interlocking links are evenly shaped, you have a rolo chain. Designs for men come in thick links that connect in the middle of the link. This design is the best gold necklace to buy for pendants.

Snake design: These chains are usually narrow and delicate and look like a bendable tube with snakeskin texture.

Box design: Box chains have squared links and are preferred for women’s jewelry because they are usually worn with pendants.

Mariner design: Mariner necklaces are also unisex and come in different lengths and widths, usually with concave, flat marine links. This type of necklace is a popular choice by both men or women. Under a magnifying glass the chain looks like an old ship’s anchor chain.

Herringbone design: Gold herringbone necklaces are made up of very thin 10kt or 14kt gold bands to form a thick necklace.

Consider the materials and carats (kt or ct)

Gold chains 9ctWhen figuring out how to approach the purchase of a gold necklace, consider that the level of gold purity contained in a necklace is measured in carats (kt or ct). Gold necklaces typically come in the following: 9kt, 10kt, 12kt, 14kt, 18kt, 22kt and 24kt. The higher the number of carats, the more gold there is. For example, men’s 24kt gold necklaces would be considered as pure or solid gold.

Filled or rolled gold, such as 18kt gold jewellery, is a combination of gold and other metals. This gold necklace style is popularly used with thick-set jewellery with slender links, such as the 14kt gold necklaces. Gold plating is another attractive design to consider when figuring out how to buy a gold necklace. It is less expensive than solid and filled gold but has a beautiful luster because the outer coating is made of pure gold.

How do you find out the purity of a gold necklace?

You simply divide the carat number with 24 to find the purity percentage of the gold ( e.g. 18ct / 24 = 75% ). Here are a few common examples below with some information about each.

24ct Gold 

This is the purest form of gold with an average purity of approx. 99.9% meaning that it is very soft (but not very string) and is often the most common gold used in jewellery.

22ct Gold –

This gold is almost pure with an average purity of 91.6%. Although it is relatively rare in the UK, you are likely to stumble across it when shopping for jewellery in far eastern countries.

18ct Gold –

This gold has a purity of approx. 75% and is a good compromise between purity and strength.

9ct Gold –

This is the least pure form of gold generally accepted and has a purity of approx. 37.5%. It is very strong and durable due to the amount of other metals in the alloy it is also very cheap (33% of the price of 24ct) making it a popular choice for jewellery.  

Consider the colour

Of all the gold necklace designs, the color is considered the most attractive feature. The most common colors are white gold, where the gold has been mixed with another white metal such as manganese, nickel or palladium. The white gold diamond necklaces are good gifts to give for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

Yellow gold, such as 10kt gold necklaces, have a brighter color, and rose gold necklaces are a combination of gold and copper. The more copper there is, the darker the hue. When assessing the different types of gold necklace designs, remember that an attractive color will make the jewellery piece even more beautiful and will also complement a wearer’s skin tone.

One of the best aspects of thinking about how to choose a gold necklace is the many choices in styles you will have. As such, you will want to plan your jewellery wardrobe in advance to make it easier to know your options in the various gold necklace designs.

Consider the clasp

You will want to consider the clasp on the necklace. You might like to choose lobster clasps because they are easy to release, are more durable, and are less likely to snag clothing. You might also find barrel clasps, hook clasps and ring clasps that might be more suited to either your style or ease of use.

How many carats?

Carats are a way of indicating gold content in a chain, and typically in the UK we see 9ct, 18ct and 24ct as a rough guide. 9ct gold chains have less gold content than 18ct and 24ct, but will be tougher. 18ct is said to feel more comfortable and generally 24ct gold chains are considered a bit too weak for hanging items.

Note: gold is a soft metal, and a chain that was 100% gold would break as soon as you touched it. That is why gold chains always have around 50% other metals in the mix, to make them stronger. There is no such thing as a 100% gold chain, and 24ct is actually around 54% gold, but is seen to be the maximum, which is why some people think that they are 100% gold.

Value of gold chains

The value of gold chains depends on style, length, weight and carat. It is no good simply weighing a chain and then looking at the price of gold today, that is not how it works. All gold chains contain 50% other metals, so you will need to cut the weight roughly in half to start with, depending on how many carats it is.

You then have the craftsmanship, the cost of the other metals, the cost of the gold clasp, and the shop’s mark-up (which is often 30%-50%). So it is often impossible to judge the value of a gold chain, not least because there are thousands of different types.

Having chosen the style of your gold chain, the next issue is to consider what length of chain best suits the individual. For women, typically the chain will either be 16 inches, 18 inches or 20 inches.

Gold chain jewelleryThe most common length of chain in use in the UK is 18 inches, and the length of chain will emphasise different parts of the wearer’s chest. A 16inch chain will be closer to the neck line and will lie above the collarbone. The more common length, the 18inch gold chain, will lie over the collar bones, and longer lengths will not only on the skin but also on clothing, and with the right choice of clothing it can have a dramatic effect.

Weight of chain

One of most common complaints about value of 9ct gold chains is that the chain was too thin or light. It is all too easy to buy on price without remembering the 0.75g spread over 18inches can only result in a really fine chain.

Gold chain weights are an important factor if you are going to make a comparison of the value of one gold chain with another. The comparison can obviously only be done if one takes account of the carat rating. Other factors that come into play when comparing chains are how it was made (the time and labour and the skill of the craftsman).

It is difficult to compare value of gold chains in the Belcher chain style with that of a Prince of Wales Rope chain the work involved in the manufacture of each type of chain is somewhat different, so we have to compare like with like.

Gold chains comparison by weight

How do we estimate the value of gold chains? Can we compare a thin light and cheap gold chain with one that is heavier thicker and more expensive?

The answer is weight; the weight of gold in a chain is dependent on its carat content and what it tips the scales at. The percentage of gold in a 9ct gold chain will be 37.5% gold, the remainder being other base metals.

Gold chain necklaceSo to summarise, to estimate the value of a 9ct gold chain it is important to look to see if the weight is listed in the product details.
Fine chains should weigh 2g as a rough minimum, and size should also be considered, but a little caution here as some gold items might be hollow to achieve a bigger profile per gram of weight.