Gold is a chemical element that, aside from its extraordinary luster, has amazing physical characteristics that make it extremely well suited for use in jewellery making. One ounce (28 grams) of gold can be hammered into 187 square feet of extremely thin sheets called gold leaf. Gold does not tarnish or corrode and it can be re-melted and used again to create new designs.
Because 100% pure gold is too soft for prolonged handling, it is mixed with other metals to give it the durability necessary for jewellery. Most gold used in jewellery is alloyed with silver, copper and small amounts of zinc to produce various shades of yellow gold, or with nickel, copper and zinc to produce white gold. The color of these gold alloys goes from yellow to white as the proportion of nickel increases. Alloying gold with copper creates what is known as pink or rose gold. Alloys with platinum or palladium are also used in jewellery. Since nickel is the most popular alloy used in white gold, it is important to note that some people may be allergic to nickel. If that is the case, 18 Karat gold with a higher percentage of pure gold or platinum settings may be viable alternatives.
The gold content of a piece of jewellery is measured in Karats, which can range from 1 to 24. It is commonly accepted that gold that is not mixed with other metals is referred to as pure. The purity of gold is usually measured in karats. 24 karats is the highest purity possible and corresponds to about 99.9% gold content. Pure gold is very soft and malleable, and has an intense yellow color. The higher the Karat, the greater the gold content. This term should not be confused with "carat", which measures the weight of diamonds.
The history of gold goes back at least 6,000 years, with references to it in both Egypt and Mesopotamia. In ancient times, gold was thought to have healing properties when worn or even ingested.
From the time of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492 to 1600, more than 8,000,000 ounces of gold, or 35 percent of the world's production came from South America. The New World's mines-particularly those in Colombia-continued into the 17th and 18th centuries to account for 61 and 80 percent, respectively, of world production. In the 18th century, 48,000,000 ounces were mined.
Russia became the world's leading producer of gold in 1823, and for 14 years it contributed the bulk of the world's supply. From 1850 to 1875, more gold was produced in the world than in all the years since 1492, primarily because of discoveries in California and Australia. A significant increase in gold production stemmed from discoveries in Alaska, the Yukon Territory and South Africa. Gold production continued to rise throughout the 20th century, partly because of the improvement in recovery methods and partly because of the continual growth and expansion of South Africa's gold-mining operations.
In the late 20th century, South Africa, Russia, the United States and Australia accounted for two-thirds of the gold produced annually throughout the world. South Africa alone produces about one-third of the world's gold.
Gold pricing is based on a number of factors, including karat amount (called karatage), gram weight, design and craftsmanship. The karatage and gram weight designate how much gold is in a piece, but are not the sole determining price factors. The craftsmanship and level of detail in a piece are also taken into account. Remember, a price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece.
The most critical thing to look for in buying gold jewellery (aside from the style you like!) is the purity of the gold. The higher the gold content, the more valuable it is. The amount of gold in a piece is represented in the karat mark, usually inscribed on the back of the piece (e.g. 24K, 18K, 14K, etc.). The European system uses numbers representing a fraction of 1000, so "750" would be 75% gold, or the equivalent of 18 Karat. In addition to the karat mark, every piece of gold jewellery should be stamped with a hallmark or trademark of its manufacturer and sometimes its country of origin. In the United States, 14 karat gold, or 583 parts pure gold, is the most common degree of fineness and pieces are marked 14K. Nothing less than 10K can legally be marked or sold as gold jewellery in the U.S. However, lower karat, such as 8 karat gold and 9 karat gold, are popular in other countries.
The jewellery's construction and design are also important factors to consider. The techniques of construction can make a piece more durable and flexible for added comfort. A well-made piece in a classic design provides years of wear and enjoyment. If cared for properly, a well-crafted piece will last a lifetime. Unique design, intricate details, gemstones or a special clasp may also add to the price.
Gold jewellery is produced mainly by machine. Any additional hand finishing or textural interest raises the cost. Depending on this, similar looking pieces may have vastly different price tags. Different pieces may have specific characteristics that make them unique, so look carefully to notice any differences and similarities. Often, it's these small, defining details that give you pleasure through the years. They make your jewellery truly unique and worthy of generations of appreciation in your family.
Below are descriptions of the most common karats used in fine jewellery:
|karat||Pure Content||Alloy||Suitable For Fine jewellery|
|24k||100%||0%||Too soft for fine jewellery|
|18k||75%||25%||Ideal for fine jewellery|
|14k||58.33%||41.67%||Ideal for fine jewellery|
|10k||41.67%||58.33%||Affordable for fine jewellery|
This is gold in its purest form. The metal is comprised of 100% gold with virtually no alloy metals. Because it is extremely soft and pliable, this type is not recommended for use in fine jewellery.
This alloy consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. 18 karat gold has been found to be the perfect balance between gold purity and strength.
The most popular for jewellery is 14 karat gold which is 58.3% pure gold. The remaining percentage is comprised of alloy metals.
This level consists of 41.7% gold. 10 karat gold is the minimum level of purity that can still be considered gold in the United States. It weighs the least when compared to higher karat gold.
Gold Filled, also called Gold Overlay, refers to a layer of at least 10-karat gold that has been permanently bonded by heat and pressure to one or more surfaces of the support metal, then rolled or drawn to a prescribed thickness. The karat gold must be at least 1/10 of the total weight.
Gold Plate means that a layer of plating of 10-karat gold or better has been bonded to a base metal. The karat gold content may be less than 1/20, but it must be properly identified by weight in terms of total metal content.
Gold Leaf refers to a gold plating that's been pounded and applied by hand.
Choosing the right metal for an engagement ring is a crucial part of the ring design process. Once you know a bit about the basics of ring metals, deciding on a metal is a rewarding and simple process. Choosing between white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold is as much as matter of personal preference as it is of budget. Before you make a final decision, it is worth weighing the pros and cons of the various types of engagement ring metals.
White gold is an incredibly beautiful and popular choice for engagement ring settings, which is quickly becoming the number one choice in engagement ring metals. 14K gold contains 58.33% gold, while 18K white gold is made up of 75% gold and 25% other metals (nickel, zinc, etc). White gold has the overall look of platinum, but is notably less expensive. White gold beautifully compliments diamonds that are rated D-I on the diamond color scale, as it enhances the brilliance and sparkle of the stone.
White gold is typically alloyed with nickel, zinc, silver, and/or palladium to give it its white color and is often plated with rhodium, a shiny white metal that is a member of the platinum family, to give it an even whiter appearance and protect it from color loss. Although white gold is not subject to tarnish, it may develop a slightly yellow color over time as a result of its 75% yellow gold content. If this happens, white gold's original beauty can be restored by a simple re-plating.
Even though white gold is resilient, there are important measures you can take to keep you jewellery looking as good as new. To keep white gold shiny and scratch-free, store it in a soft cloth bag or fabric-lined jewellery box. White gold should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water, using a non-metallic, soft brush (like a toothbrush). To retain white gold's luster, make sure to keep it away from harmful and corrosive chemicals such as bleach, ammonia and chlorine. And always use a soft, lint-free cloth-never paper towels-to dry the jewellery.
Yellow gold is the most common of the golds, partly because gold is yellow in its naturally occurring state. The yellow gold used in fine jewellery is typically alloyed with silver and copper; its color depends on the amount of pure gold in the alloy. The advantages of gold are that is does not corrode, tarnish or rust, so it can be counted on to provide lasting beauty. And even though it is strong, gold is more "flexible" than the other precious metals.
Even though gold is resilient, there are important measures you can take to keep you jewellery looking as good as new. To keep gold shiny and scratch-free, store it in a soft cloth bag or fabric-lined jewellery box. Gold should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water, using a non-metallic, soft brush (like a toothbrush). To retain gold's luster, make sure to keep it away from harmful and corrosive chemicals such as bleach, ammonia and chlorine. And always use a soft, lint-free cloth-never paper towels-to dry the jewellery.
Rose gold is a gold and copper alloy commonly used for specialized jewellery and coveted for its warm, reddish color. Rose gold is also known as red gold and pink gold, and sometimes as Russian gold, as a result of its popularity in Russia in the early 19th century. The difference between red, rose and pink gold is their copper content.
The higher the amount of copper in gold, the more pronounced the red color. Pure gold is a deep yellow color and pure copper is reddish. The color of rose gold is somewhere on the spectrum between the two, depending on its individual composition. A common alloy for Rose gold is composed of 75% gold and 25% copper by mass.
Even though gold is resilient, there are important measures you can take to keep you jewellery looking as good as new. To keep rose gold shiny and scratch-free, store it in a soft cloth bag or fabric-lined jewellery box. Rose gold should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water, using a non-metallic, soft brush (like a toothbrush). To retain rose gold's luster, make sure to keep it away from harmful and corrosive chemicals such as bleach, ammonia and chlorine. And always use a soft, lint-free cloth-never paper towels-to dry the jewellery.
Rhodium plating is a finish put on all of our white gold fine jewellery pieces. Rhodium is a beautiful reflective white metal that gives your white gold jewellery that dazzling ultra white look. Rhodium holds the distinction of being the world's most expensive precious metal. So why not make rings out of rhodium? A ring made entirely out of rhodium would be very expensive and difficult to work with. Rhodium's higher melting temperature would pose a risk to gemstones and diamonds that may get burnt when repairing rhodium jewellery.
Personally we think rhodium plating is a personal preference. It's a great service you can do for your ring to keep it looking like the first day you got it.
The plating depends on whether you wear the ring constantly, and also what the underlying metal is. The rhodium plating typically lasts the longest on white gold jewellery. You can also have other color golds plated as well like rose gold and yellow gold. Yes, you can get your yellow gold jewellery turned a bright shiny white. However if the piece experiences significant wear, the good appearance may last only a fairly short time even if the rhodium plating quality is good, and almost no time if the plating is poor. Generally rhodium will come off of rings the quickest. Most people will have their white gold rings re-rhodium plated about once a year. If you want your yellow or rose gold rings plated, it could be anywhere from a few months to a year. Everybody is different.
To rhodium plate your white gold piece can be done the same day, and will take about an hour to finish, from most reputable jewellers. The cost can vary depending on the piece of jewellery.
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|18k White Gold||14k Rose Gold||18k Yellow Gold|
|Appearance||18K white gold has a similar silvery white appearance to platinum, making it another stunning choice for jewellery. It is generally not suggested for those with a nickel allergy||Rose gold is a lovely alloy of gold and copper, with a lustrous blush-pink tone||18K yellow gold boasts the rich hue for which gold is famous, and its luster is beautiful|
|Durability||Because it features rhodium plating, white gold must be re-plated with some regularity to maintain its color||The copper in the alloy lends strength to 14K rose gold, so it is a durable choice which does not require extra maintenance||18K yellow gold is 75% fine gold and 25% alloys added to strengthen the metal, making it suitably durable for everyday wear|
|Price||White gold is more affordable than platinum, but requires more maintenance, so it may accrue more cost in the long run||Rose gold is more affordable than platinum, and has approximately the same price point as white gold and yellow gold||18K yellow gold is more affordable than platinum, and at the same price point as white gold and rose gold|