Gold, one of the world’s most precious metals, dates back to the dawn of mankind. All great civilizations built up treasuries of the lustrous metal, reserving golden objects for their most important rituals.
The most alluring use of the sun-coloured metal has always been in jewellery. The Egyptians, largest producers of gold in the ancient world, equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The ancient Etruscans created meticulously hand-wrought objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewellery of 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness. A gift of gold jewellery says love and permanence as eloquently today as in all the ages past.
The Characteristics of Gold
Gold combines four basic characteristics that make it a universally treasured possession:
Gold’s natural colour can be further enhanced by alloying it with small amounts of other metals, yielding a spectrum of exquisite, subtle shades. Metalsmiths are able to create yellow, rose, green and white golds by adjusting the alloys. A popular trend is to combine two or more colours of gold in a single piece of jewellery.
It is estimated that only slightly more than 100,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth during all of recorded history. And although gold can be found in rivers, seas and land in many parts of the earth, it is not easily extracted. Opening a mine is a time-consuming and costly operation, and several tons of ore are required in order to produce just one ounce of the precious metal.
Look no further than the nearest museum, where gold jewellery, coins and artifacts from ancient civilizations attest to the metal’s enduring beauty and permanence.
Jewellers throughout the ages have preferred gold to all other metals for its beauty and ease of workmanship. Gold can be melted, or shaped, to create any design. It can be alloyed with a number of other metals to increase its strength and produce a variety of colours and can be re-melted and used again to create new designs.
How to Buy Gold Jewellery
Look for the quality mark. Pure gold, or 24-karat, is generally considered too soft for use in jewellery, so gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength.
Eighteen carat gold is three-quarters, pure gold. Jewellery of this fineness is marked “750,” the European designation meaning 75 percent gold.
Pricing is based on four factors: caratage, weight, design and craftsmanship. The caratage and weight tell you how much gold is in a piece, but other crucial factors determining price are the piece’s construction and design. A price based solely on weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. It’s important to remember that each piece of gold jewellery is unique and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime.
Look for quality construction. When buying a piece of gold jewellery, be sure to inspect it carefully. Pay special attention to fasteners or clasps, making sure catches work easily but are secure. Likewise, the backs of pins and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece, with no soldering marks visible. With gold chain, lay it flat and make sure the links don’t kink or bend.
Your Gold Jewellery Wardrobe
Build a gold jewellery wardrobe in the same way you build a clothing wardrobe. Always begin with the best-quality basics you can afford and add pieces. Your basics are a gold chain, necklace, classic hoop or button earrings, and a link bracelet. Additions can include a slide-on pendant, a pair of drop earrings, followed by a gold ring or a pin. Begin with pieces that have classic shapes and look appropriate with a variety of different outfits, then add pieces that offer versatility or those with a fashion touch, such as matte and polished surface treatments or two or three tones of gold.
Caring For Your Gold Jewellery
Gold is lasting and durable, but it can get scratched or dented if treated roughly. Gold’s worst enemy is chlorine. Repeated exposure can weaken gold’s structure, eventually leading to breakage. Keep your jewellery away from chlorinated cleaning products and out of swimming pools and jacuzzis. Protect your gold jewellery by storing it safely or keeping it wrapped in a soft cloth when not being worn.
Clean your gold jewellery with a cleaning solution of warm soapy water, or bring it to your local jeweller for cleaning. Dry and polish jewellery with a chamois or soft cloth after cleaning and rinsing. Keep gold jewellery free from dust, moisture, perspiration and makeup. Always inspect your gold jewellery for weakness or damage and bring it to a professional jeweller for immediate repair. Your jeweller will be able to restore it for you.
Where to Buy Gold Jewellery
Now that you are ready to buy, the question that comes to mind is where? You can buy gold jewellery in many types of stores, and “incredible discounts” are not hard to find.
But to make sure you get jewellery that you will be happy with now and for years to come, follow a simple rule: buy from a professional, someone you can trust. Choose a retailer who has been serving the community for a number of years and has an established reputation.
Ask if the jeweller is a member of Retail Jewellers of Ireland, the national association for retail jewellers. Or look for the Association of Fine Jewellers logo on the door. Association of Fine Jewellers jewellers are knowledgeable, and they have a wide selection of fine jewellery that will make putting your gold jewellery wardrobe together easy and fun. They will not only help you with this purchase, but they will be there in the future to answer all your questions and help you with your purchases, repairs, and custom design. Association of Fine Jewellers members have signed and abide by a Code of Ethics, so you can buy with confidence from your Association of Fine Jewellers member jeweller.