November 27, 2009

Gold: Our obsession through the ages

Posted in gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry design, jewelry repair, rose diamonds, silver tagged , , , , , , , at 9:00 am by rosediamonds

Gold: Our obsession through the ages.  We desire it and have gone to war for it.  Ancient man linked gold to the sun and was convinced it was a source of great power.  Since the times of the ancient Greeks, gold has been used to relay the perception of wealth.

During the Middle Ages, the science of alchemy focused on changing lead to gold.  European armies pillaged Inca and Mayan civilizations to satisfy their thirst for gold.   Governments have requested citizens to donate their gold.  Fort Knox and its gold bricks provides backing to the paper money our government prints.  Japan even has a building covered in gold.  Today, gold has reached new heights as the buying power of the dollar struggles.

Gold is sometimes misunderstood within the jewelry industry.  As prices continue to soar, there will be more and more devious plots to mislead the public.  First, pure gold is too soft for most jewelry wear.  Most of what is in the US today is 14K or 10K.  Asia and the Middle East are known for their 22K, while in South America 18K is more common.  Europe ranges from 9K up.

The proportion of gold to base metals yields the karat value.  Gold mixed with copper has a pinkish cast, while gold mixed with nickel has a white look.  Classic yellow gold is a combination of gold and silver.

I have always explained to clients that gold is like bread.  Whether French bread, or Rye bread, the recipe contains differing amounts of flour, salt, etc.  14K gold is always 14 parts of gold to 10 parts of another metal.  The other metal can be a combination of metals that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

This is why 14K from US factories (buttery yellow) will look different from English 14K (pinkish gold) to Turkish 14K (deep yellow).

Another hard-learned lesson is the mass introduction of gold plating in the jewelry industry.  Gold filled, Gold Plated, Rolled Gold,14KP, 1/20 14K are all referring to a thin coating of gold over another metal.  As jewelers, we have seen more and more precious stones (usually low grade diamond chips and commercial sapphires) being set in gold plated pieces.  Many department stores have turned to gold plated sterling silver.  It retains the value of being a precious metal, but should not be referred to as gold.

Some care issues with gold plated items are the fact they cannot be traditionally repaired or sized without the gold plating coming off.  When heated with a jeweler’s torch, the gold plating turns black typically.  This plating can also fade over time with prolonged exposure to perspiration, bleach or other household chemicals.

Being from South Florida, I saw a LOT of plated gold brought back from the Caribbean.   This was usually stamped (illegally) 14K, but it faded to silver over time.  Some criminals even put gold end caps and clasps on plated chains.  I usually advise that tourists stick to established stores when traveling.  If the deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is (or it’s stolen goods).

While yellow gold flatters virtually every skin tone, pink gold can even out yellow skin tones while white gold can cool ruddy complexions.  The beauty of gold jewelry beyond its value and durability is the fact it is so versatile.  It can be sporty, tailored, or dressy and never truly goes out of style.  Gold can also be “recycled” into new jewelry.



  1. […] Read more from the original source:  Gold: Our obsession through the ages « Rosediamonds's Blog […]

  2. eskaejeweller said,

    Great post!,

    I enjoy what you have to write about gold and jewellery, very interesting especially coming from the jewellery industry in Australia myself. nice to see that just because you guys are half way around the world you are still having similar or the same thoughts as what we jewellers in Australia have!

    Did you know that the ingots (the bars you see in the picture, for those who don’t know…) are designed with the bevelled edge so that they are EXTREMELY difficult to pick up by hand?

    Yes – it is a built in anti-theft mechanism!

    Pretty cool if you ask me…

    Sam Kritsotakis

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