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Information about GOLD

History

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. Gold has a long and complex history. From gold´s first discovery, it has symbolized wealth and guaranteed power. Gold has caused obsession in men and nations, destroyed some cultures and gave power to others. Archaeological digs suggest the use of Gold began in the Middle East where the first known civilizations began. The oldest pieces of gold jewelry Egyptian jewelry were found in the tomb of Queen Zer and that of Queen Pu-abi of Ur in Sumeria and are the oldest examples found of any kind of jewelry in a find from the third millennium BC. Over the centuries, most of the Egyptian tombs were raided, but the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered undisturbed by modern archaeologists. Inside the largest collection of gold and jewelry in the world was found and included a gold coffin whose quality showed the advanced state of Egyptian craftsmanship and goldworking (second millennium BC.)

When Rome began to flourish, the city attracted talented Gold artisans who created gold jewelry of wide variety. The use of gold in Rome later expanded into household items and furniture in the homes of the higher classes. By the third century AD, the citizens of Rome wore necklaces that contained coins with the image of the emperor. As Christianity spread through the European continent, Europeans ceased burying their dead with their jewelry. As a result, few gold items survive from the Middle Ages, except those of royalty and from church hordes.

In the Americas, the skill of Pre-Columbian cultures in the use of Gold was highly advanced long before the arrival of the Spanish. Indian goldsmiths had mastered most of the techniques known by their European contemporaries when the Spanish arrived. They were adept at filigree, granulation, pressing and hammering, inlay and lost-wax methods. The Spanish conquerors melted down most of the gold that they took from the peoples of this region and most of the remaining examples have come from modern excavations of grave sites. The greatest deposits of gold from these times were in the Andes and in Columbia.

During the frontier days of the United States news of the discovery of gold in a region could result in thousands of new settlers, many risking their lives to find gold. Gold rushes occurred in many of the Western States, the most famous occuring in California at Sutter´s Mill in 1848. Elsewhere, gold rushes happened in Australia in 1851, South Africa in 1884 and in Canada in 1897.  The rise of a gold standard was meant to stabilize the global economy, dictating that a nation must limit its issued currency to the amount of gold it held in reserve. Great Brittain was the first to adopt the gold standard in 1821, followed, in the 1870s, by the rest of Europe followed. The system remained in effect until the end of the first world war, after which the US was the only country still honoring the Gold Standard. After the war, other countries were allowed to keep reserves of major currencies instead of gold. The arrival of the great depression marked the end of the U.S. export of gold in the 1930s. By mid 20th century, the US dollar had replaced gold in international trade.

Real Gold and Karat Gold?

They both mean the same thing, they are both genuine gold. Gold jewelry comes in several degrees of purity, but it's all real gold. The purest gold, 24 karat, is generally considered too soft to be used in jewelry, it is most often alloyed with other metals to increase its strength and durability.  In most civilized countries,gold jewelry is required to be stamped with a quality mark that indicates the purity of the gold.  A karat is a measure of golds purity, not to be confused with a carat, a measure of a gemstones weight.

List of Quality Marks Found in Gold Jewelry

symbol purity country
375 37.5% Europe
9 Kt. 37.5% Europe
417 41.7% Europe
10 Kt. 41.7% United States
585 58.5% Europe
14 Kt. 58.5% United States
750 75% Europe
18 Kt. 75% United States
875 87.5% Arabic Countries
21 Kt. 87.5% United States
916 91.6% Europe
22 Kt. 91.6% United States
999 99.9% Europe
24 Kt. 99.9% United States

Anything less than 10 karat gold cannot be marked or sold as gold jewelry in the United States.

Colors

Gold comes in a variety of colors. Because gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength, it can also be made in a variety of colors. Yellow Gold - This is gold in its natural shade. It is by far the most common type of gold used in jewelry. Yellow gold used for jewelry is usually alloyed with copper and silver to strengthen it. The warm glow of yellow gold works with virtually any outfit, any skin or body type and any gemstone. How yellow a piece is will depend on its gold content. Generally, 14 karat gold has a brighter yellow than 10 karat gold; 18 karat gold has a deeper yellow than 14 karat gold, and so on.

White gold

White gold has become very fashionable in recent years as many consumers have opted for the cool, contemporary white look over the classic yellow look. White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but is mixed with different alloys to give it its white color. Generally, white gold is created by using a nickel or palladium alloy, zinc and copper. Sometimes, white gold is plated with an even whiter metal, such as rhodium (a rare member of the platinum family) to enhance its appearance. A white gold setting can enhance the look of white diamonds and put a modern twist on a traditional standard.

Rose gold - By alloying just copper with yellow gold, metalsmiths can create gold with a pink, blush-like tint, which experts say lends a soft, flattering effect to the skin.

Green gold - This alloy is created by mixing silver, copper and zinc to yellow gold.

Other Types Of Gold Jewelry

The other types of gold jewelry include gold-filled, gold-plated and vermeil. Gold-filled refers to a layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base (non-precious) metal; the gold content must be at least 1/20th of the total weight of the piece. Gold-plated merchandise has a coating of 10 karat gold or higher applied to a base metal by electrolysis. Vermeil is jewelry that is made by applying a layer of karat gold to a sterling silver base.

To keep the classic appeal of yellow gold but update it with a more modern look, many are opting for two-tone styles that combine white and yellow gold within the same piece. These types of pieces are considered very fashionable and have become particularly popular in bridal jewelry in recent years.For an even more original look, some are choosing jewelry which combines three colors of gold (most often yellow, rose and green) within the same piece.

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