Sometimes some terms confuse us like 14K SE in Gold. Gold jewelry comes in different purity levels, stamped with karat numbers to indicate the percentage of pure gold in the piece. One common stamp you may see is “14K SE”. But what does it mean? Is it real gold? And what colors does 14K gold come in? Let’s find out:
What Does 14K SE Mean?
14K refers to the karat level of the gold, indicating it is 14 out of 24 parts pure gold, or 58.3% pure gold. The remaining percentage is usually copper and/or silver added for durability and color.
SE stands for “semi-electroplated”. This means a thin layer of 14K gold has been electroplated onto a base metal beneath. The plating provides the look of solid 14K gold for less cost.
So 14K SE jewelry has a top layer of 14K gold electroplated onto a core of non-gold metal like brass or nickel. The plating is very thin, usually less than 1 micron (or 0.00004 inches) thick.
Is 14K SE Gold Real?
14K SE gold is technically real gold since it has a plating of 14K gold. However, it contains much less actual gold than a solid 14K piece since the plating is so thin.
You will not like 14K SE gold as:
- Plating can wear off over time, exposing the base metal underneath
- Won’t have the same resale value as solid gold
- Usually can’t be resized or re-shaped like solid gold
- More prone to cause skin reactions due to base metals
So while 14K SE is made with real gold, it doesn’t have the value, durability, or hypoallergenic properties of solid 14K pieces. The gold content is minimal.
Is 14K SE different from 14K ?
14K SE gold has a thin plating of 14K gold over base metals, while solid 14K gold is at least 58% pure gold throughout. The plating on 14K SE scratches off easily compared to durable solid 14K.
Colors of 14K Gold
14K gold comes in a variety of colors based on the metals it is alloyed with:
The most common color, yellow gold gets its warm, bright hue from alloys of silver, zinc, and copper. It has a rich golden tone similar to pure 24K gold but is more durable for jewelry.
White gold is given its silvery white color by alloying yellow gold with nickel, palladium, or silver. It is then usually plated with rhodium to enhance the white shine. White 14K gold is extremely popular for engagement rings and other jewelry.
Rose gold gets its distinctive pinkish hue from copper. The higher the copper content, the deeper the rosy color. 14K rose gold generally used for necklaces, rings, watches, and more..
Natural or man-made green gold is formed by adding silver and sometimes cadmium or zinc alloys to the gold mixture. The result is a luxurious olive-green or lime-green color.
So while pure 24K gold is only available in a yellow tone, adding different alloys creates beautiful 14K gold in various colors.
- 14K SE jewelry has a thin plating of 14K gold over base metals for affordability
- The plating scratches easily and cannot be resized like solid gold
- 14K gold comes in yellow, white, rose, and green colors by alloying with other metals
- For best value and longevity, solid 14K is better than gold-plated jewelry
Next time you shop for 14K gold jewelry, check for a 14K SE stamp to understand exactly what you are getting. While it contains real gold, it won’t have the same qualities as solid 14K gold. Stick to solid gold pieces to get the real value, beauty, and longevity of 14K gold.
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