For most uses of gold the pure metal is too soft on its own and is therefore hardened by the addition of alloying elements, copper, silver, nickel, palladium and zinc. Gold is of course yellow and the various colours seen such as red, white and green are simply alloys of gold. The final colour is dependent on the ratios and type of alloys added.
Pure gold is weak, having a tensile strength of less than 20,000psi (138 megapascals) when annealed; however, by alloying with copper, sometimes in conjunction with silver or nickel, and often a little zinc, gold alloys with strengths of 60,000–100,000 psi (414–690 MPa) may be made. Addition of these metals changes the color of gold so that red, yellow, greenish, and white golds result. The proportion of gold in solid gold jewelry is designated in karats (k); pure gold is 24 k, 18 k is 18/24 or 75% pure gold, and 14 k is 14/24 or 58.3% pure gold.
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