As no doubt you have noticed, there has been a return to luxury and with that, to fine jewellery and to gold. All around the world the runways of Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 2015/2016 were full of gold jewellery and accessories. It's beautiful warm yellow colour really flatters the skin.
Carat gold jewellery is a purchase that you will be able to enjoy for life, even generations, so here are a few facts everyone should know about gold:
1. Gold is measured in 24ths, so 24 carat is 100% gold.
18 carat gold is 18 parts out of 24 pure gold and 6 parts alloy or 75% pure gold.
14 carat gold is 14 parts out of 24 pure gold and 10 parts alloy or 58.5% pure gold.
9 carat gold is 9 parts out of 24 pure gold and 15 parts alloy or 37.5% pure gold.
The addition of other metals (alloys) to gold are used to increase the toughness and hardness of the metal, as well as to change the colour i.e. white gold (palladium or silver) and rose gold (copper). The most widely used alloys for jewellery in Europe are 18 and 14, although 9 is popular in the UK. In the United States and Canada, most fine jewellery is 18 carat, but 14ct is the most popular, followed by 10ct (they do not sell 9ct).
**18 carat gold is ideal for allergy sufferers as it does not cause allergic skin reactions.
2. Carat is the measure or purity. In most parts of the world, the terms carat and karat are used interchangeably (in the USA the designation for gold fineness is karat). Both carat and karat are derived from the word for the carob seed, which were used as measurements of weight in Oriental markets. The weight of gold in jewellery is measured in grams. Most countries require every item of gold jewellery be clearly stamped with its carat which is usually controlled through hallmarking.
3. Hallmarks. A hallmark is a guarantee of metal purity. Hallmarking is a system that originated in London at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the 14th century. In the UK and in Ireland there are three compulsory hallmarks applied to precious metals as a quality control: a sponsor’s (maker’s) mark, a fineness mark, and an assay office mark. These marks establish the origin and fineness of the precious metal and ensures it has been accurately and independently tested (assayed.) In Hallmarking the metal and fineness (purity) mark for 18 carat is 750. The mark for 14 carat gold is 585. Example:
The mark for 9 carat is 375. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission does not require a gold fineness stamp; however, if one is used, it must be accompanied by the manufacturer’s mark. Note: A branding mark should not be confused with a legal hallmark.
Further Irish Assay Office hallmarks:
Here is how it applies to you as a shopper!
It it important to note that hallmarking is the law in the UK and Ireland (and many other countries). A jewellery shop can not sell something as 18 carat gold, 14 carat etc. unless it has been hallmarked (tested to prove that it is in fact the carat claimed or higher). So if someone advertises something as gold, look for the hallmark (750, 585...). If its not there you are perfectly within your rights to ask why?
4. Gold Vermeil. Vermeil (pronounced vur-may) is produced by coating sterling silver with carat gold. It is very popular as it makes larger designs (that would be very expensive in solid carat gold) affordable. Sometimes referred to as gilded silver or gilt, vermeil is made using the process of electrolysis — electricity and an acid bath — to attach gold to sterling. To be considered vermeil, the gold should be at least 10 carat (Edge Only's use 18ct gold) and be at least 1.5 microns thick. This layer of gold is thicker than that applied using the electroplating process used in gold plate, but it will still wear off over time. The hallmark will be 925 for sterling silver.
At Edge Only we only use solid sterling silver and solid carat gold, hallmarked in accordance with UK and Irish law. We do NOT use gold plate or goldfill. For your information, please find below some common terms and techniques used in the wider jewellery and costume jewellery world
Q: What is Gold Plate? A: Gold Plated jewellery has a very thin layer of the precious metal electroplated to it. The thickness of gold (or silver if silver plated) is generally only a few microns thick. 18ct gold is typically used. The metal underneath the plating is an inexpensive base metal that must be able to conduct electricity for the bonding process to work. The plating will wear off.
Q: What is Gold Filled, Rolled Gold or Bonded Gold? A: Gold Filled is composed of a layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal (or alloy) such as brass. The bond produced is a permanent one and the gold is thicker than that of gold plate. A gold filled item must contain a fifth (1/20th) of its weight in gold and will have a quality mark that will identify its carat. For example, 14 carat Gold Filled will be marked as 14/20, meaning that the outer 1/20th of the piece is 14ct gold, the remaining majority of the piece is brass or base metal. This is not a hallmark and should not be confused with hallmarked precious metal.
Gold is such a beautiful, valuable metal, I hope that this information will be helpful to you when you wish to make a purchase.
Luxury jewellery with an edge. Ethically made in Ireland.