What is 999 fine gold – how many carats, and what is it worth? In this masterclass, we delve into the carat system and discuss whether 999 fine gold is worth the investment.
How is gold purity affected?
In its pure form, gold is soft and malleable. It’s also one of the most valuable metals on the planet. So why is it blended at all? For centuries, humans have adorned themselves with gold. But pure gold is simply too soft to be made into jewellery. We need pieces that are scratch-resistant and tough enough for everyday life. So, in order to form it into the jewellery that we love to wear, gold is blended with other alloys – including zinc, copper, palladium and silver. When we started blending gold with copper and platinum, we obtained aesthetic results – achieving different shades by adapting the percentage – and started to wear these coloured golds as a pleasing contrast to the usual yellow. White gold is made from a blend of gold with palladium or platinum, while rose gold owes its colour to copper. And they’re not just fashion choices. Both are harder and more scratch-resistant than pure gold.
Stamping gold to indicate the purity
To measure purity, the carat (karat) system was developed. It relates to the percentage of gold contained in each finished piece.
So, how many carats is 999.9 gold? Your gold bar or piece of jewellery will be stamped with a number that shows the minimum gold content:
from a blend of gold with silver, copper and zinc.
What does 999 fine gold mean?
24ct gold is marked with 999, which indicates a gold content of 999.9 parts per thousand – the purest form of gold that you can get. It is regarded as impossible to obtain 100% pure gold with no impurities. Extremely pure gold can, in fact, be classified as up to 999.999 gold (but this is very rare indeed!). Pure, 999 gold is very valuable and yellow in appearance. It’s resistant to tarnishing, but it’s not very strong or scratchproof.
For those reasons, 999 gold is not usually used to make jewellery. It is typically sold in the form of bullion bars. These are kept for the purpose of investment. You can buy small bullion bars – about the size of an SD card – up to very large bullion bars. Did you know?
The world’s biggest gold bar was made by Mitsubishi, and is about the size of a kitchen sink! At PureJewels, we sell 999 fine gold bullion bars in 1-20g sizes.
What does 999 fine gold clad mean?
“999 fine gold clad” means gold plated, but we have seen it loosely used and is a very dubious term – the base metal content can be anything, and there will likely be no stamp on the piece. Tere are some companies selling “999 fine gold clad” coins or “999 fine gold clad” bullion bars, claiming that they are investment pieces, when in fact these coins contain so little gold that they are practically worthless. This type of item is suitable as a decoration, a joke, or a stocking-filler – purely for fun! – but nothing else. It is not valuable and it is not worth investing in.
Our advice is to steer clear of gold-plated or gold-clad pieces entirely. And always make sure you investigate the total metal content of the piece that you are buying.
How much is 999 gold worth?
Real, pure, 999 gold is worth around £1100 an ounce (at the time of writing). This type of gold is bought by investors, who wish to save for the future, or traders, who may buy and sell their gold to take advantage of the changing prices. Gold is considered a wise investment – prices rise and fall, but it is a finite resource that is valued all over the world. It has been treasured by the human race for many centuries and there is no reason for this to change. It is portable and solid, so you will not lose it during an economic crisis, although we would not recommend keeping it under the bed! If you want to save something to give to your grandchildren, buying gold is a good idea. And we’re sorry to be blunt, but giving it away before you die is also worth considering.
Did you know? In the UK, you can give away up to £3,000 worth of gold each tax year without the recipients being required to pay Inheritance tax.
Should you buy 999 gold?
If you want to buy 999 gold then first make sure you choose a reliable supplier. PureJewels has been trading from Green Street for 50 years and has served generations of families who invest in gold. Our prices reflect the current gold index; so if you are buying as a gif, then you can be reassured that you will not pay over the odds with us.
Do you need to buy your gold urgently, or are you able to wait and watch the prices for a number of months? Prices have fluctuated during 2019 by up to £200 per ounce (rising to £1250). By contrast, during 2018 the price of gold remained below £1000 per ounce for many months. So it is worth subscribing to a gold price alert service and being ready to buy when the price is acceptable to you.
What is 999 fine gold jewellery?
Most jewellers do not sell 24ct or 999 fine gold jewellery, for the reasons that we have already explored. If you want to buy gold to wear, a 9ct gold ring is stronger than a 22ct gold ring, although it’s also less precious. But if you want to wear it all the time, that’s no bad thing. 9ct gold jewellery is perfect for young women and everyday style. For special occasions and lifetime moments, we love 22ct gold – a high-value gold that is delightful to wear. Our collections and occasion-wear are almost all made from 22ct (750) gold. The exception is white gold, which comes in a maximum purity of 18ct.
Other factors affect value…
A bar of 999 fine gold is not always the most expensive gold item that you can buy. As pieces become antiques, their design and individuality can amplify their value. Special pieces can be worth more not just to you, but to collectors or museums. In this respect, 22ct gold jewellery can be just as valuable as 999 fine gold. And, as it is passed down the generations, it becomes imbued with memories and stories: a real piece of family history.