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Jewelry

9 Karat Gold – Pros, Cons and Differences

9 karat gold buying guide

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9 karat gold has become popular among some consumers because of the durability and affordability it offers. However, how does it compare to pure gold and is it worth purchasing?

Before you decide whether to buy 9 karat gold or not, a clear understanding of gold and its unit of measurement is important. In this article, we’ll go over what 9 karat gold is and whether it’s a good choice for jewelry.

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Karat or Carat: Which is Which?

In the US, karat (K) is a unit of measurement for the purity of gold while carat (ct) is a mass unit for gemstones. In other countries like Australia and the UK, carat is a measure of purity.

In this article, we use karat as a measure of purity where 1 karat is equal to 1/24th part of the gold content. It means that 9K gold has 9 parts gold and 15 parts other metals. 22k gold has 22 parts gold and 2 parts other metals.

It’s important to note that 10k gold is the minimum karat designation that’s still categorized as gold in the United States. As 9K is lower, it’s not considered to be gold in the US.

How Does 9K Gold Compare?

24k gold ring

24K gold ring by Wanda Jewelry. See it here.

9k gold ring

9K gold stacking ring by Spark Muffin London. See it here.

Pure gold refers to 100% gold with no other metals mixed with it. In its pure state, gold is soft, very expensive, and not practical for use in jewelry making. It needs to be combined with other metals to make it strong enough to mold into different shapes or pieces.

The amount of alloy you add to gold results in the different sizes of gold karats. Here’s the breakdown of the karats:

Percentage of goldEquivalence in karats
100%24
91.67%22
75%18
58.3%14
50%12
41.7%10
37.5%9

9K gold is the lowest of all gold karats as illustrated in the table above and this means that it contains only 37.5% pure gold while the remaining percentage comprises different metals like silver, platinum, manganese, zinc, copper, and tin.

Types of 9K Gold

The metals added to 9K gold give rise to distinct types, most notably white, rose and yellow golds.

  • 9K White Gold – This has 62.5% silver and 37.5% gold. Apart from silver, the addition of nickel, palladium, or manganese to the 37.5% gold is also used in creating white gold. To brighten 9K white gold, it is plated with rhodium to give it a silvery-white look.
  • 9K Rose Gold – This typically has 42.5% copper, with 20% silver and 37.5% gold. The high quantity of copper gives it a reddish hue or warm pinkish-red color. Copper is inexpensive which means rose gold is sometimes more affordable compared to the other two 9K gold types.
  • 9K Yellow Gold – This is made with 37.5% gold and a mix of various metals in different quantities to get the yellow color. The most common yellow gold alloy has more silver (about 54.5%) and less copper (about 6%). Yellow 9K gold is a little paler in color, compared to higher karat alloys like 14K or 18K.

Why Buy 9K Gold?

9k gold earrings

9K gold earrings by Sharon Jewelry. Notice the paler yellow color.

9 karat gold is a good consideration if you are on a budget and aren’t interested in its re-sale value. The small gold quantity in 9K means that it is relatively cheaper.

It’s also good if you want jewelry for select occasions and aren’t too bothered that it doesn’t look as yellow as higher karat gold.  

Because 9K gold can withstand wear and tear associated with common activities, it is great for daily wear.

How to Care for 9K Gold

To care for your 9 karat white, rose or yellow gold, it’s best to clean it with soap and water, using a soft cloth or brush. Other regular ways of caring for your 9K gold so it lasts a long time include the following:

  • Do not expose it to chemicals and perfume, as it may cause reactions and eventual damage.
  • Remember to plate your 9K white gold every 3-5 years to maintain its glow.
  • Take off your 9K jewelry when doing manual activities like gardening, house chores, sports, or heavy work. The abrasives, acids, and dirt will dull its appearance.
  • Remove your 9K gold when swimming in pools as the chlorine can damage the metal. Also, it’s best practice to remove rings when swimming anyway, because your fingers can shrink, and rings can fall off.

Pros of 9K Gold

When choosing 9K gold, here are some benefits to consider:

  • 9K gold is stronger than higher karat gold. The other metals in 9K gold hardens it, making it a more durable choice.
  • Higher durability means 9K gold doesn’t easily wear and tear. This makes it last for longer. The durability and hardness make it ideal for wedding bands and engagement rings, which are pieces of jewelry that are highly exposed due to daily wear.
  • The lower percentage of gold makes 9K gold affordable compared to gold with higher karatage. This way, you get the look of gold for a much lower price.

Cons of 9K Gold

9K gold has the following weak points, some of which you can overcome with proper care and attention.

  • If you have metal allergies, 9K gold may not be the best option. It’s not always hypoallergenic, due to the inclusion of metals like nickel and zinc. However, white 9K gold can be considered hypoallergenic due to its rhodium plating.
  • 9K white gold needs re-coating with rhodium every few years for it to have that glowing shine.
  • 9K yellow gold doesn’t have the bright warmth of gold with higher karatage. It has a paler, more whitish-yellow look.
  • Because 9K gold has such a small amount of pure gold, it’s sometimes not even considered as ‘gold’ by some consumers. It’s also less prestigious and not a great investment option.

9 Karat Gold vs. the Other Gold Types

The content, price, quality, and value of 9 karat gold differentiates it from the other gold alloys as outlined below.

  • 9 karat gold is less expensive than alloys with higher karatage given the small percentage of gold in it.
  • 9 karat does not damage or scratch in the way the others do because of its hardness.
  • 9K gold isn’t hypoallergenic like 14K or 18K gold. The higher the karatage, the more hypoallergenic and safer the gold.
  • 9K gold doesn’t have the same bright yellow look of higher karat gold alloys.

Can You Wear 9K Gold Every Day?

Yes, you can because it’s hard, strong, and durable. You can also wear 9K gold in the shower; the only drawback is that it will lose some of its shine. With proper cleaning and handling, expect 9K gold to last a lifetime while looking as good as new.

Conclusion

9 karat gold is indeed valuable especially if your interest is in price and durability. However, it will not have the bright color you’d expect of gold, nor does it have the same prestige. The ultimate decision of whether to buy 9K gold rests with your preference.