The allure of gold
The allure of gold - and the desire to own it - dates back as far as the history of mankind itself.
The place of gold has been extraordinary in every society. In earliest times, it assumed magical importance. All of the great empires of the ancient world used golden objects, mainly in their religious rituals.
Over centuries of growing sophistication and technology, gold has assumed many additional roles. Not only is it still prized for jewelry, it now has many new applications in contemporary life.
Gold soared into space with the astronauts, its reflective ability used on the heat shields that are critical to life. This same ability to reflect the sun increases the aesthetic and practical beauty of today's glass skyscrapers, as gold in tinted windows makes the difference between obstructive glare and glamorous gleam.
In medicine and dentistry, in industry, in a hundred applications from TV sets to telephones, computers to calculators, this eternal metal is an important component.
But, above all, gold has enjoyed its finest glitter throughout the ages in its ultimate form - jewelry. In fact, the wearing of gold on the bodymay actually be man's oldest surviving tradition.
Every day, virtually each one of us continues the centuries-old ritual of gold adornment. Men, women and children of all cultures are caught up in gold's allure through a ring, chain, earrings, watch or bracelet.
The uniqueness of gold
Of all the world's precious metals, only gold combines the four basic characteristics that make it a universally and eternally treasured possession:
Lustrous Beauty - The naturally intense color and distinctive luster of gold combine to give this precious metal its unique and lasting beauty. Gold's natural beauty is further enhanced by the soft and exquisite shades of color achieved by combining it with small amounts of other special metals.
Yellow, pink, green and white golds - each exquisite in its own right. There is always fashion acceptance of all the colors and color combinations of gold. One of today's trends features combining colors of gold - yellow, white and pink - in jewelry.
Rarity - Although gold is everywhere around us - in the earth's crust, in our seas, rivers and plants - the difficulty and expense of obtaining gold from these diverse sources makes recovery of any great amounts unlikely.
First of all, any new gold mine represents a capital investment of hundreds of millions of dollars! Then, where gold is found to exist, several tons of ore may be required in order to extract just one ounce of the precious metal.
This rarity alone is enough to bestow a certain symbolism of status to gold. Now, combined with its other inherent characteristics, this lustrous and beautiful metal becomes an even more desirable possession.
Durability - Gold lasts, and lasts. Since it does not rust, tarnish or corrode, gold virtually lasts forever. An example of this incredible durability is witnessed in the gold coins found in sunken galleons centuries-old - they're as bright and shiny as the day they were cast! Another familiar example has overwhelmed the millions of people who have seen the Treasures of King Tut. When the boy King Tutankhamum died in 1350 B.C., he was buried with vast quantities of gold artifacts and jewelry. Today, more than 3,000 years later, viewers marvel at the breathtaking golden array, as gleaming and lustrous today as on the day it was buried with the young king.
Today, when you buy gold jewelry, you are buying enduring beauty. Reflecting the properties of the precious metal itself, a gift of gold has always been the symbol of lasting love and devotion.
Ease of Workability - Gold has the best working qualities of any metal, thereby making it the ideal precious metal for fine jewelry whose designs are meant to reflect and appeal to so many different personalities.
To give you an idea of its workability, gold is so soft and malleable, one ounce can be stretched into a wire an incredible 50 miles long or hammered into a sheet so thin, it covers 100 square feet!
It is gold's workability that enables it to be alloyed with the other special precious metals to produce special effects or to achieve variations of color.
Gold can be re-melted and used again and again. And, gold works for everyone. From the most intricate baby bracelet to the heaviest man's chain, gold's workability gives it the ability to achieve the look and the feeling of importance.
How do you know it's real gold?
All that glitters isn't gold! When buying gold jewelry, always look for a karat mark, such as 18K, 14K, 10K, etc. plus the manufacturer's trademark. Stamped somewhere on each piece, this mark of quality indicates you are buying real gold.
The karat mark refers to the purity of gold. Gold in its purest state, 24 karat, is generally considered too soft for practical use in jewelry.
It must be alloyed with other special metals to increase its durability and workability.
Twenty-four karat is 100% pure gold, or 24 parts gold; 18K is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal; 14K is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metal; and, 10K is 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metal.
Nothing less than 10K can legally be marked or sold as gold jewelry in the United States. Alloys of less than 10 karat gold cannot be stamped with the karat mark and are not considered real gold. For example, some jewelry is processed with a layer of gold which has been mechanically bonded to a base metal. This jewelry cannot have a karat mark unless it is qualified. In other words it must be marked "gold filled" preceded by the karat fineness; e.g. "14K gold filled."
Summing up, with gold an ever more precious and fashionable metal, the karat mark on a piece of jewelry is becoming increasingly significant. Only karat gold jewelry is real gold, offering the lasting characteristics of this precious metal.
Where to buy gold jewelry
When you buy gold jewelry, whether it's for yourself or a gift for a loved one, you are investing in timeless beauty.
For such an important purchase, you want to be sure to make the selection that best suits your needs. Your jeweler can answer any questions you may have, and offer you the widest selection of gold jewelry. With his experience, he can help you find that piece of gold jewelry that can be cherished for a lifetime and even become a family heirloom.
Rely on your local jeweler. He or she is an expert.