Gold is a metal of antiquity. There is evidence of its use as far as back as 3000BC so gold diggers go back a long way! It has always been one of the most popular and most expensive precious metals in the world and can be found in its pure state naturally so what makes it so popular and so much more expensive than other metals?
Is gold rare?
Historically, gold has always been rarer than silver and in keeping with the law of supply and demand this has led to gold being anywhere from 50 – 75 times more expensive than silver however in recent years this has changed and silver is now rarer but despite this gold still remains many times more expensive. So ……
Why is gold so expensive?
Well it’s a truly beautiful metal of course, uniquely warm, luminous and rich in its purest form that can be alloyed with other metals to achieve a broad spectrum of colours; it doesn’t tarnish, corrode, rust or disintegrate; it can be worn down with daily wear but by and large it lasts a lifetime; it’s about twice as dense as silver so a little gold goes a long way; jewellers love working with it because it’s soft and can be easily formed into different shapes and it’s easy to engrave. But can this explain it?
Not entirely perhaps. Our perception of value is often not based on facts but on what we’re willing to spend on something. We’ve been ‘programmed’ that gold is money, gold is wealth. Gold rings symbolise one’s commitment to marriage. We’ve decided as a society — as a whole world! — that gold is more valuable.
Know your carats
If you’re spending a lot of money on a piece of gold jewellery there are some things you need to know
A carat, in relation to gold, is a measurement of purity, the purest being 24 carats but this is generally too soft to use so it is usually mixed with other metals, (such as zinc, copper, silver & nickel) which makes it harder, easier to work with and better wearing.
18 ct gold, the most commonly used and regarded as the European standard is therefore an alloy of 18 parts gold and 6 parts another metal and is a very good compromise between purity and price.
14 ct gold is commonly used in the US and still maintains a good colour.10 ct is the lowest carat used in the US while 9 carat gold, 9 parts gold and 15 parts other metal, is the lowest carat in the UK and most other countries. It is the most durable but not as golden a colour.
Designers who are wishing to keep the cost down but still achieve the warm colour of pure gold will often use heavy gold plating of at least 18ct gold on sterling silver, known as vermeil.
Different gold ‘colours’
The variations in colour are all down to the colour of the other metals that the pure gold is alloyed to. The addition of large amounts of copper leads to Rose Gold (sometimes referred to as red gold or pink gold)
White gold contains a substantial amount of nickel, manganese or palladium. Often, particularly for jewellery, it is also plated with rhodium, giving it a bright white colour.
Gold jewellery is truly exquisite and ideally everybody should have some of it in their collection. Fortunately Vermeil brings it into the reach of those unable to pay the premium still demanded by those that mine it!