Since the beginning of time gold has been one of the favorite metals for jewelers. Most of the gold produced today is used for jewelry manufacture. It’s beauty and permanence inspired craftsman to create unique objects of desire, made gold a symbol of love and heritage. It’s been treasured throughout the history by civilizations, reserving gold for most important objects associating with power, wealth and happiness.
Gold, atomic symbol Au on the periodic table of elements, is a yellow metal. Gold has very desirable combinations of physical and mechanical properties, it has superior electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion. Gold is extremely heavy metal. One cubic foot of gold weights half of a tone. Gold is rare. Only one ounce of metal can be produced from several tonnes of ore. Pure gold is very soft and rarely used in jewelry. Additions of other metals make it exceptionally strong. Gold is not effected by heat, air and moisture, it is also resistant to tarnish. All these properties make gold a valuable commodity.
Purity of gold is defined by its percentage. 100% pure gold is defined as 24 karat gold. As mentioned earlier, pure gold is too soft for most jewelry, so it’s mixed with other metals such as cooper, silver, nickel and zinc for its durability. Purity is indicated by karatage and noted by a number followed by “k”. 14k gold contains approximately 58.3% of gold. Everything else is addition of some other metals.
Yellow Gold – the gold’s natural color and is the most common gold used for jewelry. It is usually alloyed with cooper and silver. The color depends on the content of gold and other metals. A more pure gold has a brighter yellow color.
White Gold. It differs from yellow gold by addition of alloys. Usually they are palladium or nickel, zinc and cooper. Recently it became very popular opposing to traditional yellow gold. White gold has the same properties as yellow gold. Sometimes it is plated with rhodium, an even whiter metal, to enhance its appearance.
Rose gold is made by alloying gold with cooper, which gives it a beautiful pink color.
The price of gold jewelry depends on the jewelry design, purity of gold or karat weight and amount of the material needed for this particular item.
If treated carefully the gold jewelry will last you forever. Always keep away your jewelry from chemicals such as chlorine and various cleaning fluids. They are the worst enemies for gold. Use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap to clean your gold jewelry. Store gold items separately to prevent from scratching.
24 karat = 100% gold
Too soft for jewelry
22 karat = 91.7% gold
Very soft — not recommended for jewelry
18 karat = 75.0% gold
Recommended for fine jewelry
14 karat = 58.3% gold
Recommended for jewelry
12 karat = 50.0% gold
Not acceptable for jewelry
10 karat = 41.7% gold
The legal karat limit considered as real gold in the United States.
Platinum is a naturally white metal that will never fade or change color. In jewelry, the most common purity for platinum is 95%, with the remaining 5% being another metal – often from the platinum group – which provides an alloy with a harder, more scratch resistant finish. White gold, which was first produced in the early 1900s is made by adding an alloy mix to pure yellow gold to take out the yellow color; the alloy is often nickel or palladium, in order to give the metal a whitish hue. White gold, which is typically, either 75% or 58.5% gold, is then rhodium plated to provide a white finish. The thin plating usually needs to be replaced over time to maintain its white color.
All platinum jewelry is hallmarked. There are a number of symbols or marks that have to be displayed on a piece of jewelry to indicate that it is high purity platinum. Here are some examples of the platinum marks to look for:
PLATINUM or PLAT
Platinum’s rarity means that its price is invariably higher than that of gold.
The process of making a piece of platinum jewelry also requires a higher level of craftsmanship.
Deciding which metal to choose for your engagement ring, wedding band or any other piece of jewelry can be a challenge if you don’t know the differences between the options. There are seven factors you should consider when you are making your decision. This chart outlines all of them so that you make the choice that’s best for you.