Understanding Carat Values in Scrap Gold


If you are an investor, or you’re looking to buy or sell gold, it’s crucial to understand carat values and how they impact the value of scrap gold. The carat value is an indicator of the purity of the gold. If you’re shopping for jewellery, for example, you may have come across 24ct, 18ct or 9ct gold rings or necklaces. The higher the carat value, the more pure the gold. In this guide, we’ll explain carat values and their effect on scrap gold prices and outline ways to buy and sell gold for the best price.

Understanding carat values

The carat value is a measure of the purity of gold. The scale runs from 0 to 24, with 24-carat gold representing the purest gold on the market. The carat value of scrap gold is used to determine the ratio of gold to other metals or materials, such as copper, nickel and silver. 

It is common to come across gold that is marked 24ct, 18ct, 14ct and 9ct. A 24ct ring will be 99.9% pure gold compared to a 9ct gold ring, which will contain approximately 37.5% gold.

Differences between high and low-carat gold

  • Purity: the higher the carat value of the gold, the higher its purity. 
  • Value and function: pure gold is worth more but it’s not always the most practical choice. If you’re buying gold jewellery to wear every day, rather than investing in gold or looking for a piece for special occasions, for example, it may be better to choose an 18ct, 14ct or a 9ct piece, as they will be more durable. 
  • Strength and durability: pure gold is softer and less durable and hard-wearing than lower-carat gold. 

Colour: 24ct gold usually appears more yellow than lower-carat gold.

How to identify carat value

Understanding scrap gold carat purity levels is important for determining its value. In most cases, the easiest way to determine the carat value of scrap gold is to check the hallmark. Most pieces will be stamped, which will enable the buyer to learn more about the purity of the gold. Stamps and hallmarks vary according to location and origin.

If there is no stamp, or it’s impossible to identify the carat value through a visual inspection, there are other ways to confirm the purity of scrap gold before buying or selling. These include:

  1. Acid tests
  2. Electronic tests

The importance of identifying carat value when buying or selling

It is critical to identify the carat value of gold when buying or selling to ensure that you get the best price if you are selling and that you pay a fair price if you are purchasing gold. If you don’t know the carat value, you can’t estimate the value accurately and this means that you could lose money or fall foul of a scam or an unfair offer. 

Carat value is one of the main factors to consider when calculating profits when buying and selling scrap gold. If you own a 24ct gold necklace, for example, it will have a higher value than 18ct, 14ct and 9ct jewellery. 

Risks and challenges when buying and selling scrap gold

Buying and selling gold can be lucrative, but there are risks. These include market volatility and price fluctuations, fraud and scams. To minimise risks, follow these steps:

  1. Research: carry out thorough research and learn as much as possible about the market, gold prices and which factors impact the value of scrap gold.
  2. Find a reputable gold buyer and verify claims and accreditations
  3. Get a series of quotes before you accept an offer
  4. Learn as much as possible about the pieces you plan to buy or sell
  5. Make use of resources designed to help traders, investors and collectors, such as market analysis tools and gold trade associations

How do gold carat values compare to other precious metals?

The purity of gold is measured in carats. Silver and platinum purity are not classified using carats. The purity of silver and platinum is expressed in parts per thousand. The higher the figure, the higher the purity. 


Carat values are used to determine the purity of gold. If you are buying or selling scrap gold, it’s important to understand carat values. The purity of the gold will have a significant influence on its value. The purest form of gold is 24-carat gold.