At the moment I am in Italy and I see that the women here are wearing a lot of gold pieces of jewelry and they look absolutely great with their jewelry. But this gold has a different color than I used to see. That is because in Italy they often use 8 carat gold and in the Netherlands, we are used to 14 of 18 carat and the government prohibits to call 8 carat gold as gold. Even the 14 carat gold has to be called ‘double’ instead of gold! But what is the difference and is there a difference in value or beauty?
There are quite a lot of types: white gold, yellow or rose gold. Then you have a difference in carat like 8, 14, 18 and 24 carat. Besides that, you see a difference in using the gold, like gold-filled or vermeil. And when you know that a country can only mint money when they have a backup of a certain amount of gold in the bank. You know that knowing your gold and the value is rather important when you have or want to buy a piece of jewelry made of this great metal. Especially since wearing gold jewelry is getting more and more popular.
Let’s talk about carats!
First some history to understand what is the value of gold. In the Old Age, when the Fenicians just ‘invented’ money they made gold coins and the coins had the value of the material. But when you wanted to sell some land you had to be sure that those gold coins you got in return for your land has a steady value and you wanted to be sure that someone else accepted these golden coins when you wanted to buy another piece of land or goods. That was not a big problem when the gold coin has the same value as the material it was made of.
The Medici family in Florence were a trading family and they thought it was too heavy to carry all those golden coins around, besides that the risk of being robbed was too big. So they started with making paper money and people outside Florence accepted that paper money (or money letters) because the Medici had the same amount of gold in their banks as the total paper money they produced. That gold was 99,99% pure gold, and to make it easier to handle they formed it in the shape of a bread or bar. Pure gold is too soft to store, so they added 0,01% copper or brass, to ‘glue’ the gold together. We call this 100% gold 24 carat gold. The system that all the money you make is based on the gold you have in the bank is called the ‘Golden standard’.
But men always need more money than they actually have in the bank and countries started to produce more paper money and coins, without having that value of gold in the bank. And the exchange rate differs according to the actual value of the money or the trust that people have that they can get products that have the same value as is said on the paper money. And here is where the last economic crises started… people and banks and countries spend more money than they had in the bank and nobody trusted the money or loans of the other banks/countries anymore. The result is that in the European Union the reserves of the banks have to be a lot higher than before so that the money is save and steady in its value.
Enough history. I hope you now know how important gold is and how valuable. With diamonds, it is one of the most steady materials (in value) of the world. In the papers, you can read (every day) what is the actual value of gold. But then we are talking of 24 carat gold, with that 0.01% copper, that makes the gold yellow. But as I already stated: 24 carat gold is too soft to use as a piece of jewelry. The jewel maker adds different amounts of copper or silver in the gold to make his or her pieces of jewelry and that is how you can get 22 carat gold, 18 carat gold or 14 carat gold (in the Netherlands we call that ‘doublé’) of 8 carat ‘gold’ (or Italian gold). In the Netherlands, you are not allowed to call 8 carat gold ‘gold’.
A practical thing is that you can repair a piece of jewelry made of 18 carat gold, but that is not possible with pieces of jewelry made of 14 or 8 carat gold. And the colors of the mentioned types of gold differ, but it is hard to explain how you can recognize a certain type of gold. The one thing you can always look for is a mark in the gold. On that mark, it says what carat of gold the item is made of and it is checked by the officials.
The different colors gold.
Not only every amount of gold (carat) has a slightly different color, also the kind of material added to the pure gold makes a color difference. When you have a look at 18 carat gold, you know that they used 75% gold and 25% copper. Copper is a reddish material, so the more copper is added to the gold the redder the gold becomes. Red gold contains 75% gold and 25% copper, rose gold is 75% gold, 22.5% copper and 2.5% silver and the pink gold has 75% gold, 20% copper and 5% silver. That is how the colors in gold are made.
You don’t only have yellow or red gold, there is also white gold. That is, there is gold that is mixed with palladium or nickel to get the white color. 18 Carat of white gold contains 75% gold, 10% palladium, 10% nickel and 5% zinc. 14 Carat white gold has 59% gold, 25,5% copper, 12,3% nickel and 3,2% zinc. To get that extra beautiful white glance on white gold they plate it with rhodium, what is a very rare metal and about 8 times more expensive than gold.
Like silver also gold can tarnish, which is not caused by the gold but by the copper, zinc, palladium etc. The good thing is that 14 and 18 carat gold can be polished by a soft cloth to get back the luster of the material. White gold does not tarnish but gets yellow (the original color of the gold). That is caused by the rhodium layer that is vanishing when you are wearing the piece of jewelry. You can ask your jewelry to put a new layer of rhodium and it will glance as ever before.
What is goldfilled or vermeil gold?
As mentioned above the material god is very expensive and when people cannot or will not pay for a solid gold piece of jewelry and still want a golden jewel, they mostly choose for vermeil of gold filled jewelry. What is this?
Vermeil is 925 silver layered with a thin coating of gold. The standard plating is about 2 millionths of an inch of gold, but a vermeil coating is much more than that: it is 50 times more, so 100 millionths of an inch of gold. Vermeil has the same shine and glance than 14 carat gold and it does not wear down easily. You can clean it with a soft cloth, but don’t use chemicals, like a silver or gold cleaner.
Gold filled is even better than Vermeil. The base is silver or another metal and this material is plated by a minimum of 1/20th of the total weight of the piece of jewelry. And with gold filling, they use also 14 or 18 carat gold. The amount of gold used in gold filled is regulated by the government. Gold filled looks exactly the same as 18 carat gold, although it is not solid gold.
Talking about the value of gold.
This is a difficult one since I cannot imagine that you want to have a bar of pure gold in your safe. You can only look at it and pay a fortune to prevent someone to steal it from you. The good thing is that gold not only remains its value but the value will increase since there are not so many goldmines anymore. Haven’t you seen all those jewelry shops that advertise with ‘bring your old gold and I will give you the best price’? That is a way to gain gold and to recycle it in new pieces of jewelry. The bad thing is that ‘new’ gold will get more expensive.
So when you want to buy a piece of gold jewelry you know it will keep its value and you have a choice in such a lot of types of gold that you will find one piece that you love and can afford!
In the meanwhile, I am looking in the windows of the jeweler shops here in Italy and am amazed about the great designs, quality, and choice in pieces of jewelry they offer. Probably I look like a magpie, but I am happy to look at all these gorgeous pieces. I’ll bet you want to have something in gold too. Well, this is my offer:
- 1 silver necklace combined with vermeil chips and finished with a magnetic clasp (lightweight), (more info: bit.ly )
- 20% of the published price on my website
- Free shipping
- Use the code #Ilovegold on the cart for the discount
- Offer is valid until the 30th of Oktober or until the necklace is sold
- Only available on my website www.florencejewelshop.com
Hug Florence from FlorenceJewelshop