Thursday, October 22, 2009
Uniqueness of Gold
Of all the worlds precious metals, only gold combines the four basic characteristics that make it a universally and eternally treasured possession: lustrous beauty, rarity, durability and workability.
Lustrous beauty: The naturally intense colour and distinctive lustre of gold combine to give this precious metal its unique and lasting beauty. This beauty is further enhanced by the soft and exquisite shades of colour achieved by combing it with small amounts of other precious and base metals known as alloy.
The many colours of gold include yellow, white, pink and green and, to a lesser extent, shades of blue and purple. All are beautiful in their own right, and in combination.
Rarity: Although gold is everywhere around us in the earths crust, in the seas, rivers and plants the difficulty and expense of obtaining it makes recovery of any substantial amounts unlikely. Where gold is found to exist, as it does in several regions of Australia, several tonnes of ore may be required to extract just one ounce of gold. This rarity alone is enough to bestow a certain symbolism and status to gold, and when combined with its other inherent characteristics, it becomes an even more desirable possession.
Durability: Gold virtually lasts forever. It does not rust, tarnish or corrode. An example of its incredible durability is evidenced in the gold coins found in galleons sunk centuries ago. Each coin is as bright and shiny as the day it was made. Another familiar example which has overwhelmed millions of people are the treasures of King Tut. When the boy King Tutankhamen died in 1350BC he was buried with vast amounts of gold artefacts and jewellery.
Today, more than 3000 years later, people marvel at the breathtaking array of items as gleaming and lustrous as when they were buried.
Workability: Gold has the best working qualities of any metal, thereby making it the ideal precious metal for fine jewellery. It is so soft and malleable that one ounce can be stretched into a wire an incredible 80 kilometres long, or hammered into a sheet so thin that it covers well over nine square metres and becomes transparent.
It is this workability that enables it to be alloyed with other precious and base metals to produce special qualities or to achieve variations of colour. Gold can be remelted and used again and again and it can be made into a vast array of jewellery items. From the most intricate baby bracelet to the heaviest chain, golds workability gives it the ability to exist in a multitude of forms and shapes.
How do you know it is real gold?
When purchasing an item of gold jewellery, always look for a carat mark which should be stamped on it. This is a quality mark and refers to the proportion of pure gold in the item. Pure gold, which is 24ct, the metric equivalent being 1000, is generally considered too soft for practical uses in jewellery and is alloyed with other precious and base metals to increase its durability. Some of the common markings found on jewellery, with their metric
22ct or 916
18ct or 750
14ct or 585
9ct or 375.