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GOLD: The Forever Metal

Chris Underwood
Chris Underwood

Whether we look at ancient or modern history of the human race, there is not a page where gold does not play a part. Gold has been valued and treasured as seen from:

  • early biblical references
  • the gold filled tombs of Ancient Egypt
  • the Empire of Lydia (670 to 535 BC) producing the first gold coin for currency
  • official badges with gold thread embroidery of the Ming Dynasty China
  • Renaissance goldsmithing by Leonardo da Vinci and more recently,
  • the goldrush era that surged through North America, Australia, South Africa and beyond.

Gold then and now is purchased for many reasons such as cultural, emotional and financial. Over the last ten years, demand for gold has edged eastward. Wealth creation, cultural affinity and income growth have driven demand in the most dynamic and rapidly growing economies. Since the early 1970's the volume of gold produced each year has tripled and the amount purchased has quadrupled. Gold usually occurs in veins within quartz or other rock and is mined involving large investments to extract it. This native gold is a rich and consistent source compared to panning of riverbeds. About three tons of rock must be dragged to produce one ounce of gold. As an investment, it is estimated that the annual volume of gold bought by investors has increased by approximately 235% over the past three decades.

As jewellers, miners, markets and consumers; we love and work with gold because it is not only beautiful but it is prized as such an obliging substance. This "noble" metal is easy to recognize in nature, easy to shape and work and gold is highly and spectacularly reflective. It diffuses heat evenly and can be spread so thin that light passes through it. Not only that but it will not corrode. So every speck of gold is virtually - eternal. This amazing metal is described as 'ductile' because it can be drawn into fine wire. It is considered 'malleable' because it can be hammered into thin sheets. Gold - hands down - is the most ductile and malleable of all metals. It can be bent, heated and shaped into many forms. Just one ounce of gold can be stretched into a gold thread eighty-kilometers in length and can be used as an embroidery thread. Or it can be hammered to cover nine square meters.

Gold has an array of uses some of which include electronics, electrical wiring, dentistry, medicine, radiation shielding and to colour glass. An example of the innovative use of this metal is the suspension of a small amount of gold within glass when it is being annealed to create a rich ruby colour. Gold ruby glass was highly treasured and sought by royalty in the 1,600s.

When working in the manufacture of Jewellery we come to appreciate features of metals. Gold is the only metal that is yellow or "golden" and it is virtually indestructible. Nearly all of the gold ever mined is theoretically still accessible in one form or another and could potentially be recycled. Another great feature of pure gold is it does not tarnish. But unfortunately pure gold is considered too soft for Jewellery. It is the metals alloyed with gold that may tarnish. The alloys, abrasives and what is in the air can cause blotches or dark marks - gold by itself does not cause these blotches. That is why high carat gold items are less likely to leave blotches. Salt air and polluted air are other tarnish causers. A build-up of soap, detergent or hand cream can cause both discolouration and skin irritations. Jewellery itself is not the problem. To avoid blotchy marks from jewellery:

  • Wash your hands after you apply makeup and before you touch your jewellery
  • Remove Jewellery before applying your makeup
  • Greenish-black marks indicates a high sulphur content in perspiration - try using a mild, absorbent powder on your skin
  • Store Jewellery in a dry place

Yellow gold Jewellery is making a comeback. White gold and silver have had a long run of popularity with the rise of silver brands and global fashion trends. But diamonds and coloured gemstones set into yellow gold are popping up everywhere and can be seen in Jewellery bricks and mortar, online and across social media. Yellow gold will always be there and continues to carry world recognized value and respect. The classic, timeless elegance of this rich, beautiful metal is attracting attention throughout the Jewellery world again. Whether it is the flavor of the day or not, gold has always been the epitome of class and beauty in Jewellery with value that lives on.

Published on by BiziNet

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