Gold, the oldest precious metal known to man, 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.
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).
#4 Above vs Below Ground
Adornment, precious metals and mining have a longstanding history. Mining can be directly associated with ruined landscapes, poisoned waters, displaced communities, poverty, economic dependency, corruption, rape, torture, extrajudicial killings and civil war; the colonialism of the global mechanised age. Most mining occurs in remote locations operated by faceless multinational corporations, allowing us to distance ourselves from the realities of its extraction and overlook the fact that the jewellery we wear begins with a source, an origin.
“More than half of humanity’s gold has been extracted in the last 50 years. Now the world’s richest deposits are fast being depleted, and new discoveries are rare. Gone are the hundred-mile-long gold reefs in South Africa or cherry-sized nuggets in California. Most of the gold left to mine exists as traces buried in remote and fragile corners of the globe. It’s an invitation to destruction. But there is no shortage of miners, big and small, who are willing to accept”. Brook Larmer, National Geographic
Metals are remarkable in that they can be recycled indefinitely without losing any of their properties. We believe that while some metal mining may always be necessary, ultimately, our most important extraction operations should be taking place in scrap yards and recycling centres, rather than in sensitive ecological areas and ancestral lands.
#5 Urban Mining
Urban mining is a circular approach to materials that views the city as a “mine” with resources to be extracted from what was once considered waste. Urban mining and more particularly e-waste (electronic waste) can actually be more valuable than mining virgin ore. One ton of circuit boards is estimated to contain 40 times more gold than one ton of ore.
Gold is an heirloom, and we believe it should be treated as such, not just in its final form but also in every stage of its life cycle. By reclaiming our gold from e-waste we hope to play our part in making sure that you don’t just pass a piece of jewellery onto your children but a fair world in which to wear it as well.