Let’s have a look at gold today — not the stock market version, but the good, hard, solid, wearable variety.
Thank goodness this gorgeous metal is making a comeback. Gold is such an incredible material. Its quality and beauty has made it a coveted metal for millennia all over the world.
First, let’s demystify karats
The math is simple: to get actual pure gold content, divide your karat by 24 and multiply by 100. For 18k gold, that means 18 parts out of 24 parts are gold, so 18 karat gold consists of 75 per cent pure gold, and 25 per cent other metals. Almost half (42 per cent) of 14k gold is not gold.
Yellow, white, rose
The combination of gold with other metals is called an alloy. Using different metals for the alloy results in different characteristics. For example, pure gold is alloyed with silver and copper for karat yellow golds, or just copper for rose golds. For white golds, either cheaper nickel or expensive palladium are added. Because of its yellow tinge, nickel white gold is generally thinly rhodium plated. That thin rhodium layer will rub off and will need to be replaced frequently.
Is 18 karat gold really too soft?
While gold in its pure form is very soft, it is the alloying with other metals that increases its strength. I adore the weight, feel and colour of a well-balanced 18k gold.
Most commercial 18k jewellery is built too lightly, in order to cut costs. As a result, people think 18k will be too soft — it is not. Personally, I love the material so much that I use it in abundance — sometimes three feet of it in one piece!
The joy of working this material is imbued in the finished pieces. 14k just doesn’t have the saturation or feel of 18k gold, to make or wear.
A contemporary white gold
When I work with white gold, I prefer 18k palladium white gold for its colour, feel and superior working qualities. The alloyed palladium is a metal in the platinum family of metals. Its gorgeous dark lustre and palpable density are highly attractive qualities. Palladium white gold lends itself to the forging techniques I apply. It is a durable, contemporary and very elegant alloy, which does not contain nickel.
A final ‘nugget’ for you: did you know gold originated from space? It is so rare because it is created not inside a planet like the earth, but by the collision of neutrons from former super novae, which are very fast, catastrophic and extremely energetic kinds of explosions.
More curious gold facts
• The earliest gold relics date to 4,500 B.C.
• Gold is used as reflectors in glass — the reflective panes in Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza contain almost $3million worth of gold
• When made into thin gold wire, one ounce can be drawn into 80km of hair thin wire — that’s from Bedford to Wolfville!
• 200 laptops will yield five troy ounces of recovered gold
Dorothée Rosen, BFA NSCAD 2005
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