Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gold jewelry facts

Gold
is a precious metal which has been recognized as a symbol of wealth and luxury throughout history. Today, gold is not just for royalty; it is available to everyone, and there are several types and levels of quality from which to choose.

Gold is often combined or “alloyed” with other metals such as iron, nickel, silver, steel, or zinc to make it stronger. Certain metals can be used to give gold a different color. Mixing gold with both copper and silver creates yellow gold, while adding just copper gives it a rose or pink tone. Combining gold with silver produces a greenish color, and white gold is made by alloying gold with nickel, platinum, or other white metals

The price of gold jewelry is determined by the purity of the gold, which alloy it is combined with, and by the amount of skill and labor that goes into the piece.

People who don’t wear gold due to allergies are probably not really allergic to the gold itself, but to the other metals with which it is alloyed. To determine this fact, a person can try different alloys and discover which metal he or she is actually allergic to through the process of elimination. A person with metal allergies should wear only jewelry made of high gold content, such as 18 karat gold.

Here is a guide to the different levels of purity found in gold jewelry:

24-KARAT GOLD
The purest gold, 24-karat, is of course the most expensive. It also happens to be the softest, which does not make it the best choice for creating everyday jewelry. More often, it is used for making delicate, special pieces or for gold-plated jewelry.

18-KARAT GOLD
This quality of gold is 75% pure. It is alloyed with 25% of a different metal, which makes it somewhat stronger and more substantial. It is still soft enough to make it easy to work with, so it can be used in pieces of jewelry that require intricate detailing.

14-KARAT GOLD
This is the most popular quality for gold jewelry. It is just over half-pure (nearly 60%), it is strong, and it is more moderately priced. This purity is a good choice for frequently-worn jewelry.

10-KARAT GOLD
In the United States, gold jewelry must be at least 10-karat in order to be advertised and sold as “real” gold. It is about 40% pure and is reasonably priced. This level of purity is the best choice for everyday jewelry because it is very strong.

The ease with which gold can be shaped is part of its lure for jewelry makers, but because gold is a “soft” metal, it can easily lose its shape or become scratched. This is especially true of high-purity gold.

Gold jewelry should be gently cleaned with warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth. It should be rinsed and dried thoroughly before putting it away. It should also be kept separate from other pieces of jewelry to avoid scratching. You may want to wrap your favorite pieces in cloth or place them back in the box they came in before putting them into your jewelry box.

If you buy good quality gold jewelry and care for it properly, it will not only retain its beauty throughout your lifetime, but it may also be passed down as an heirloom for generations to come.

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