More about Gold Jewelry
Gold has been one of mankind's most revered substances since the beginning of time. Throughout history, great civilizations have built up treasuries of this precious metal, reserving golden objects for their most important rituals and ascribing miraculous powers to it.
The ancient Egyptians equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The Etruscans created meticulously handwrought objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. The Chinese saw gold as the yang of the sun (with silver representing the moon's ying). To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewelry of no less than 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness. Meanwhile, the Incas called gold the "sweat of the sun."
In some cultures, gold is even eaten to cure such ailments as arthritis, ulcers and tuberculosis.
One sign of gold's lasting value: it has been used as a currency for more than 5,000 years. It is perceived as permanent wealth as opposed to paper currency and is bought in large quantities during times of crisis.
But perhaps the most alluring use of the sun-colored metal has always been in jewelry. In fact, three-quarters of the world's gold mined each year is used to make jewelry. The metal's permanence has made it a symbol of enduring love and heritage, and pieces are passed down from generation to generation. It is the recommending jewelry gift for couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
The factors that have driven gold's everlasting, universal appeal are numerous:
- Gold is extremely rare - It is estimated that all the gold ever mined would fit underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It takes several tones of ore to produce just one ounce of gold.
- Gold is beautiful - Jewelers throughout history have preferred gold to all other metals for its warm golden color. The metal also takes well to alloying with other metals, which has allowed metalsmiths to create a rainbow of shades for gold. For instance, mixing gold with copper creates rose gold; mixing gold with silver creates green gold; and mixing it with palladium produces white gold.
- Gold is durable - The sheer amount of gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient cultures on display in the world's museums is a testament to the metal's enduring beauty. It is extremely heavy, with one cubic foot weighing half a ton. Although pure gold is relatively soft, it becomes exceptionally strong when alloyed with other metals. Because of its indestructibility, gold is used by the electronics industry to create 10 billion tiny electrical contacts each year.
- Gold is pure - Because of this purity, it is not affected by air, heat or moisture and is resistant to tarnish. These properties have helped make gold bullion such a valuable commodity.
- Gold is extremely malleable - Gold is so easy to work with that a single ounce can be drawn out into an unbroken strand approximately 60 miles long. It can be melted or shaped to create any design.
Taking care of your Gold Jewelry
Whether bought for yourself or as a gift, gold expresses love, permanence,
individuality and style more eloquently than words could ever do.
If treated carefully, the gold jewelry item you purchase today could last a lifetime and might even be handed down to future generations. So here are some tips that will help preserve the beauty of your gold jewelry.
First of all, gold is lasting and durable but can get scratched or dented if treated roughly. This is particularly true of items worn on the hands like rings and bracelets that are prone to a lot of knocks. So remove these pieces before any type of strenuous activity.
Second, beware of chemicals. Gold's worst enemy is chlorine. Repeated exposure can weaken gold's structure, eventually leading to breakage. So keep your gold jewelry away from chlorinated cleaning products and out of swimming pools and jacuzzis.
On a related note, acids, abrasives and other harsh chemicals found in some common household cleaning solutions can weaken your jewelry or damage its finish. So it's best to cover up rings and bracelets with rubber gloves while doing heavy-duty cleaning. Or better yet, take them off altogether.
Gold can lose its luster over time if repeatedly exposed to dust, moisture, perspiration and makeup. So make sure to clean your jewelry regularly. You can use a cleaning solution of sudsy, lukewarm water, or bring it to your local jeweler and have it professionally steam-cleaned. After cleaning and rinsing, always dry and polish jewelry with a chamois or soft cloth to avoid scratches and bring out its shine.
Proper storage is as important as cleaning. Protect your gold jewelry by storing it safely in a jewelry box or keeping it wrapped in a soft cloth when not being worn. Furthermore, keeping pieces stored separately will prevent them from getting tangled or scratching one another.
Finally, always inspect your gold jewelry for weakness or damage and bring it to a professional jeweler you trust for immediate repair. Pay particular attention to clasps (to ensure they catch easily but are still secure); prongs (to ensure they haven't cracked, bent or loosened, which could cause the stone to fall out); bracelet and neckchain links (to ensure they don't kink or bend); pin backs and earring posts (to see if they are bent or loose); and wedding bands, pendants and charms (dangling pieces and items worn every day for a long period of time) are subject to wear and can thin out and eventually break. Your jeweler will be able to handle these and many other repair jobs and ultimately restore your gold jewelry for you.