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Why is jewelry not made from 100% pure from gold?

Published by Karl Martin Karus in category Precious metals on 16.03.2022
Gold price (XAU-SEK)
18 385,68 SEK/oz
  
- 121,07 SEK
Silver price (XAG-SEK)
213,63 SEK/oz
  
- 0,54 SEK

About 37% of the gold mined worldwide is used in the jewelry industry, according to Statista. , which is the second-largest sector where gold is used. According to Statista´s 2020 report, the most used gold sector is the investment sector and investment gold portfolios.

This article covers why gold is used as a jewelry material and where it all started?

The beginning of using gold in jewelry

In order to understand why gold began to adorn people, it is necessary to think about the properties of this metal. Before popular yellow metal was used in jewelry, people used mussels, animal bones, bird´s eggshells, stone, wood, etc. The problem with mentioned materials was that they tended to decay rapidly.

The unique properties of gold fascinated the ancient Egyptians and the Sumerians, who used gold as jewelry as early as 5000 BC.

Gold started to gain popularity in the ancient “jewelry industry” and began to be used in making jewelry because it was beautiful, caught the eye of other people, and shined far away. It could have been a “status” question as well. The other big reason was the easiness of processing gold in comparison to other metals, and also, it does not decompose or perish.

Since gold was used to decorate tombs, thrones, and the dwellings of the heads of state, gold quickly became a symbol of strength and power.

Gold and Love

Today, as a piece of jewelry, gold is not related to strength and power. It is more of a household item, and many people, both men, and women wear gold jewelry to style themselves.

According to ancient Greek myth, the first gold ring was made by Zeus, who chained Prometheus “The Fire-Bringer” to a rock. After his release, he wore one golden ring on his finger. Before the ring began to symbolize love, it was a sign of ownership.

The first wedding rings date back to 2500 BC (source). The rings were first made of reed, stone, or leather, but quickly gold became the symbol of “big feelings” and “wealth. Thus, gold rings were a highly valued commodity among lovers.

Is a gold ring still a “gold ring”?

The weight of gold is measured in troy ounces (1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams), however, its purity is measured in ‘carats’.

‘Caratage’ is the measurement of purity of gold alloyed with other metals. 24 carat is pure gold with no other metals. Lower caratages contain less gold; 18-carat gold contains 75 percent gold and 25 percent other metals, often copper or silver.

Anyone who has been in contact with gold jewelry is probably well aware that gold jewelry, worn daily, is not made only of gold. There is a simple and logical reason for this,  as gold with 999 fineness, that is with a gold content of 99.9% is too soft for jewelry – it would break or deform in shape when used.

That is why we often find different number-markings on jewelry, for example, “875 or 21-carat”.  The number shows the gold contents in the jewelry. The lower the number, the more mixed other metals are used to make that jewelry item. To increase the durability and longevity of ring jewelry, other metals are used in the manufacturing process. This also reflects strongly on the jewelry price.

The most known gold carats are:

  • Sample 375 or 9-carat gold (indicating 37.5% pure gold)
  • Sample 585 or 14-carat gold (indicating 58.5% pure gold)
  • Sample 750 or 18-carat gold (indicating 75% pure gold)
  • Sample 875 or 21-carat gold (indicating 87.5% pure gold)

 We at Tavex AB Sweden help you to assess and evaluate your gold jewelry. Use the value calculator on the Tavex webpage to see the current buyback prices for jewelry in Sweden.

The color of the jewelry is determined by which other metal is used in the jewelry alloy. For example:

  • Copper dissolved in gold and changes the color from yellow-gold to red-gold. This is why the South African Krugerrand gold coin differs in color from other investment coins. Krugerrand still has 1 oz of fine gold, but it is mixed with copper for durability reasons.
  • 18k rose gold has 75% gold, 22.25% copper, and 2.75% silver. This metallic mix gives the jewelry item a rose color.
  • 18k pink gold has a similar metal mix, but the amount of copper is reduced. (75% gold, 20% copper, and 5% silver.)
  • 18k red gold, however, has no copper, only gold (75%) and silver (25%)

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