what to know about 10k gold jewelry before you buy girl wearing 10k gold jewelry

What you should know about 10k gold jewelry before you buy

Is 10k gold a good metal for jewelry

10k gold jewelry consists of 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals, usually silver or copper, or zinc. Because 10k gold has the minimum amount of karats that’s considered to be fine jewelry and contains more alloy metals than it does gold, this means it is the least expensive fine gold jewelry that you can find on the market.

I wear my 10 gold chain, rings and earrings almost every day without fail, and I can say from experience that even though they have a low gold content, they are built to last. One of the best perks about 10k jewelry is that it’s easy for jewelers to repair a broken link or hinge if needed, whereas my vermeil, gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry could never be repaired when they got damaged or broken meaning, I just had to stop wearing them.

Some jewelers don’t use 10k gold to make jewelry because although it is a very durable metal, it’s not the preferred metal for making “fine jewelry”. These jewelers don’t consider 10k gold as fine jewelry, due to its low gold content. However, 10k gold is a great metal for everyday, good-quality, affordable jewelry.

But that doesn’t take away the fact that 10k gold jewelry offers the best balance between affordability and durability making it a really good option for everyday casual wear. This means that it won’t bend or break as easily as high karat gold pieces and is more scratch-resistant too. I’ve put my own 10k jewelry through hell and the only piece I’ve ever damaged was a chain link that slowly prised open over time. 

Just like other types of gold, 10K gold comes in three color options: white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. Each color is made using a slightly different blend of metals that, when blended with the gold, can change its appearance. A common composition for 10 karat white gold is 41.7% gold, 47.4% silver, 10% palladium, and 0.9% zinc. A common composition for 10 karat yellow gold is 41.7% gold, 52% silver and 6.3% copper. A common composition for 10 karat rose gold is 41.7% gold, 20% silver and 38.3% copper.

How long does 10k gold jewelry last

10k gold jewelry can last for years and even generations, but like any jewelry it depends on wear and tear and consistent mainenance of 10k pieces. My 10k gold rings are over 50 years old and were passed down to me from my mother who took good care of them and always kept them in their jewelry box when they weren’t worn.

As long as you don’t put too much strain or stress on your pieces from exposing them to too much air, moisture or chemicals, you should be able to keep your 10k gold pieces for years and pass them down to the next generation if you wish. 

This is one of the best parts of starting a fine jewelry collection, in my opinion, because you gather beautiful pieces over your lifetime that will be enjoyed for many years to come. 10k gold pieces are so tough that they don’t even require a whole lot of maintenance to keep them in good shape.

Is 10k gold jewelry hypoallergenic

Nickel is the metal that causes an allergic skin reaction in some people which is usually minor but still irritating. Nickel is used in small amounts as an alloy metal and especially in white gold since it’s also used to change the color of the gold from yellow to white. 10k gold jewelry was usually made with small amounts of nickel but it is not used as much in 10k gold nowadays. However, be diligent and ask if your jewelry is nickel-free, not just hypoallergenic.

Hypoallergenic is unfortunately used as a marketing term – hypoallergenic, really means “below the normal level” which is anything that less than 50% of the population is allergic to. So even though I’ve never had an allergic reaction to my 10k gold jewelry, which is quite old and most likely contains nickel, it does not mean that someone else will have the same tolerance.

This is why it’s important to know the composition of the 10k gold jewelry you are buying so that you can be sure that you can actually wear it every day. The bottomline is if your 10k gold jewelry contains nickel even in small amounts, it’s not hypoallergenic.

Is 10k gold jewelry worth it

10k gold jewelry is definitely worth it if you are starting your own fine jewelry collection or you have never owned fine jewelry before. I am starting to purchase more 14k gold pieces for my collection but 10k gold jewelry is what I wear every day and it’s always good to have some in your collection. It’s the perfect karat to start off with because it’s so foolproof and won’t cost the earth to replace if the worst happens.

10k gold jewelry has the perfect balance of quality and beauty while being affordable and dependable enough that you can wear your pieces every day. You also won’t have to do too much to maintain your pieces or worry too much that they could break. And even if it does you can always get it repaired. That’s what makes 10k jewelry worth it.

Does 10k gold fade or discolor

My 10k gold pieces are paler in color than my 14k gold ones however they are also a lot older and the difference is not that noticeable. However I have noticed that my 14k pieces are more lustrous than my 10k ones which have become more dull over time.

I’ve never had any issues with discoloration on my skin even after wearing them every day. However, I did notice that the inside of my rings, where it touches my skin most often and where moisture can get trapped, started to blacken slightly. But after a quick polish it was gone again.

The high alloy content in 10k gold jewelry means that some fading or discoloration is possible if it comes into prolonged contact with chemicals or moisture for example. Over long periods of time without good maintenance, 10k pieces can lose their shine and develop a dull layer of tarnish which can be polished away.

Can you shower with 10k gold jewelry

If you forget to take your 10k gold pieces off in the shower, it will not damage your jewelry to a noticeable extent. However, because of the high alloy content, showering with it can reduce the shine and luster of your 10k gold pieces and accelerate tarnishing so it’s not recommended to shower with them frequently. 

With that being said, if you’re looking for low maintenance jewelry pieces that are high quality but not so valuable that you have to worry about showering with them, then 10k gold is the best option because they are affordable, repairable and are therefore the easiest to replace.

Does 10k gold tarnish easily and how long does it take?

Tarnishing is inevitable for 10k gold jewelry because it contains a high percentage of alloy metals like silver or copper which react naturally to air, moisture, sulfur and chemicals. There is no accurate estimate of the time that it takes 10k gold to tarnish because it depends on the level and length of exposure.

From my experience, the rate of tarnishing depends on two things – exposure to the atmosphere and chemicals etc. and the length of time of the exposure. Nevertheless, there are types of jewelry which can withstand more exposure than others without losing their luster. In comparison to other jewelry, 10k gold will tarnish faster than 14k or 18k gold because 10k gold has a higher alloy content. However with regular care any tarnishing should be reversible.

How to prevent 10k gold jewelry from tarnishing

100% pure gold jewelry does not tarnish because it does not react easily to oxygen or sulfides but tarnish is a natural reaction that happens to some metals on the outer layer of the jewelry so unlike rust which spreads throughout the metal, tarnishing only occurs on the outside layer that is exposed which means it’s not that big of a deal. Factors that can accelerate tarnishing include exposure to oxidants, moisture, and strong heat.

Here are some tips on how to keep your 10k gold jewelry from tarnishing so they look fantastic for years and years to come:

Keep it dry

Be mindful that tarnishing is accelerated when the metal comes into contact with anything that contains moisture, chemicals or even just the natural oils on your skin. This includes everything from water, body lotions, perfume and sweat so if your jewelry feels wet or slippery, take a dry microfiber cloth and dry it off. My rings are the most difficult to keep dry as they are wrapped tightly around my fingers and come into contact with water and soap when I wash my hands. Usually, I will take them off beforehand but if I can’t, I make sure to take them off and dry the inside of the ring as well.

Clean it regularly

You should always remove traces of discoloration or tarnish as soon as possible. This can be done easily by using some mild water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid and a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the piece around the affected area. Don’t submerge your pieces in the water especially if it contains gemstones, hold it outside and use the toothbrush to get it wet. Don’t forget to dry it with a soft cloth straight after. If it tarnishes regularly, take it to the jewelers to be plated in a protective layer of rhodium.

Store it properly

This is probably one of the best passive ways to ensure that your jewelry stays tarnish-free for longer. Jewelry boxes are not just for show. They serve a very important purpose. They are designed to have small compartments and drawers that are closed off as much as possible from the open air, because alloy metals can react simply to the atmosphere around them.

Store it properly

This is probably one of the best passive ways to ensure that your jewelry stays tarnish-free for longer. Jewelry boxes are not just for show. They serve a very important purpose. They are designed to have small compartments and drawers that are closed off as much as possible from the open air, because alloy metals can react simply to the atmosphere around them.

They’re also usually lined with felt which helps with drawing the moisture out of the air, creating the perfect environment for your jewelry to stay dry and protected while you’re not wearing it. So when you’re looking for a jewelry box, make sure that it’s lined with felt and it has small compartments to house your jewelry.

Separate your metals

Another reason why you should have a jewelry box to protect your 10k gold jewelry from tarnishing is because it allows you different spaces to separate your different types of jewelry. By this I mean, separating your sterling silver pieces from your 10k gold pieces and your 10k gold from other pieces as well. It doesn’t mean you have to have two jewelry boxes for each (unless you have a big collection, in which case it’s not a bad idea) but it’s just to be aware of not storing them so closely together. This is because jewelry that has high alloy content like sterling silver will react much faster and can cause lower alloy pieces like 10k gold to react faster than it normally would as well.

Get your jewelry plated in rhodium

If you have a very special piece of jewelry that you want to protect well then rhodium plating might be a good option for you. Rhodium is applied in a thin layer to help jewelry stay tarnish-free for longer. It’s mostly used for white gold jewelry but may also be used on silver and yellow gold. Rhodium plating is usually replaced every two years but this depends on how much wear and tear it gets over time.

It can also help protect your skin from pieces of jewelry that contain nickel as it’s a hypoallergenic metal. This is not the best solution for everyone however, it’s quite an expensive way to protect your jewelry which has to be redone every few years so it’s best for people who have very sentimental pieces that tarnish easily.

I hope you have learned all you need to know about 10k gold and you feel confident in your decision on whether it’s the right choice for you. I would love to see how you use this article to find some beautiful 10k pieces that you can wear as often as you like so please tag me on InstagramTiktok or Pinterest or you can or send me a message because I would love to see! 

About the author 

Mish has a Masters in Fine Art and she’s passionate about classical design, history and culture. She loves to analyze fashion and style through this lens to help people develop a personal style that’s authentic and tasteful.