Know Your Gold: Volume One
August 1, 2017
Gold, the oldest precious metal known to man, with its unique lustre, inherent malleability and widespread discovery, is entrenched in the stories of our ancestors. 8000 years of human history say that gold is forever, but despite humanity’s longstanding fascination with this rare metal it remains a complicated element; karats, colours, composition, it can all be a bit overwhelming.
We want to remove some of the mystery from gold and gold buying. We believe that informed consumers are conscious consumers. We believe that to operate truly sustainably does not begin and end with our products but rather stretches into every aspect of our business, including the conversations we have with you, our wonderful community.
Not all pieces that carry the word gold in their title are created equal.
Gold plated objects have a micron thick layer of gold chemically plated onto the surface of a lower quality base metal (often brass). This layer is so thin that it will wear off quite quickly, especially if worn often or if the wearer has relatively acidic skin.
Gold filled is quite a misleading term, it means that a layer of solid gold (about 5% of the item’s total weight) is mechanically bonded to a base metal. Gold filled jewellery can be expected to have a slightly longer life expectancy than gold plated jewellery but will peel off over time.
Gold vermeil has a thicker layer of solid gold than those above, about 2.5 microns thick in fact, and must have sterling silver as its base metal. Vermeil is not as likely to rub or peel off as plated or filled jewellery but is still only a surface treatment.
Solid gold, different to pure gold, can be any karat but the most important fact is that what you see on the surface continues all the way through the piece. Solid gold will stand up to lifetimes of wear, during which they may become worn in but never be worn out.
Pure gold is also known as 24 karat gold. In its natural form, it is simply too soft to be made into jewellery. In order to strengthen it, pure gold is combined with other metals. The ratio of gold to those other metals is what determines the karat.
The lower the karat (e.g. 9 karat) the more affordable the gold. Affordability, however, is not the only advantage of lower karats. The higher the ratio of other metals to gold the more durable the end result. One drawback, however, is its susceptibility to tarnish, although this is easily polished off.
18 karat gold, whilst being softer than 9 karat, has that golden lustre that no other element can emulate.
My personal favourite is 14 karat gold which offers the best of both worlds, durability similar to that of 9 karat and a lustre and resistance to tarnish like that of 18 karat.
After much debate, we decided to offer 9 karat gold as our standard to make our jewellery more accessible but if you would like any of our designs in 14 karat all you have to do is ask, we’d love to make it for you.
When most people think of gold they think of the sunshine yellow colour of 24 karat (pure gold). However, when alloyed with other metals the colour possibilities of gold are endless. There’s even such a thing as purple gold, we’ve never made it and wouldn’t even know how to begin but it exists and I think that’s a pretty neat little fact.
We offer three choices of colour; yellow, rose and white gold. Choosing a colour really comes down to personal taste but we recommend that you also take into account your skin tone, other jewellery in your collection and your lifestyle. The latter because, whilst yellow and rose gold are equally durable, white gold is a slightly softer material so if you are quite hard on your jewellery perhaps yellow or rose may be a better choice for you.
Another thing to note about our white gold is that we prefer to leave it in its natural state, a delicate yellow grey tone. The bright, almost dazzling silver hue you may have seen in commercial jewellery stores is covered in a layer of rhodium plating (of course if that’s your thing we’d be happy to do it for you).
Honesty, integrity, transparency remains our daily mantra and we hope you have found this interesting and informative. It is our hope that a better understanding of gold will give you a glimpse into what we do and why it is so important to us. Unfortunately, our blog doesn’t have a comments section (an unfortunate technical issue for which we have yet to find a way around) but if you have any question please do get in touch, we’d love to chat.