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3 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT GOLD THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
This week, 3 interesting facts brings you three interesting instalments, starring the most sought after precious metal,
Shiny bright, show-stopping and a sign of wealth and luxury, gold is a chemical element and is bright yellow in colour (or.. gold in colour…), dense, soft and malleable as well as ductile. Its properties remain completely unblemished when exposed to water or air, making is ideal for use in jewellery.
One interesting fact about gold is that it occurs in ‘free elemental’ form as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins- sheet like bodies of crystallized minerals within a rock- and also in alluvia deposits- loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments.
Its value and high demand stems back since long before the beginning of recorded history and its main uses have altered minutely, mainly in the production of coinage and of course, jewellery.
Gold’s value is rooted in its medium rarity, easy handling, easy smelting and non-corrosiveness. It has a most distinct colour and is extremely non-reactive; qualities that most metals lack.
It is obtained through mining, occurring naturally in the earth’s core and at the end of 2009, it was estimated that of all the gold ever mined totalled only 165,000 tonnes.
Since the 1980s, South Africa has been the source for a large proportion of the world’s gold supply, with about 50% of all gold ever produced having come from there.
A lot of interesting facts in just one portion of our ode to gold, but here’s just one more for now:
Gold is one of the heaviest metals and is 19.3 times heavier that water.
GOLD AND IT’S CARATS
For those of you who don’t know, a carat in gold terms refers to its purity (and no, it will not help you see in the dark if you eat it). Pure gold is equal to 24 carat – the higher the carat, the purer the gold.
Lets start with the leas pure used commercially, 9 carat (or ‘K’).
9 carat gold is around 37.5% pure gold which means that the majority 63.5% will be alloyed with another metal.
An interesting fact about this type of gold is that it is surprisingly harder wearing than gold of any other carat. Because pure gold is actually extremely soft, the lower the carat, the tougher the piece of jewellery and 9 carat gold tends to be cheaper, tougher, and might actually tarnish slightly over time.
The alloy makes 9 carat gold much more suitable for every day use, making it less susceptible to scratching and denting and adds overall to its colour and appearance.
14 carat gold takes us up a class and is about 60% pure. Most commonly used in Russia (and incidentally, Russian wedding rings), its usual gold-copper alloy is nearly identical to certain bronze alloys.
Blue gold tends to be made from gold of this particular carat by alloying with aluminium, although this is rarely done except for use in specialized pieces as it tends to be quite brittle.
Official interesting fact number two:
The word gold derives from the old English word ‘Gelo’, meaning yellow. It is the most popular metal used for jewellery and specifically, wedding bands and has been since the beginning of recorded history!
The most popular purity to opt for, 18 carat gold is typically 75% pure gold and jewellery of the utmost quality tends to be 18 carats.
It is sometimes alloyed with silver alone, giving it a greenish-yellow colouring and blends such as this are referred to as green gold (which might sound a little unappealing).
Gold of this calibre is also used in white gold alloys, blended with palladium or platinum and 18 carat gold containing even nickel, zinc and copper is used to give it that silvery appearance. However, micro-interesting fact- nickel is toxic and its use is controlled by European legislation.
Being the minimum gold standard for Italy, its demand is high, although pricey.
MOVING UP TO 22ct GOLD
Moving on up, 22 carat gold is just nearly gold in it’s purest form. At roughly 91.6%, this calibre of gold is very soft and the brightest yellow. It is only used in specialised jewellery as it it precious and is extremely expensive and is unsuitable for everyday wearing.
One last of our interesting facts about gold?
Just one ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire 50 miles long, that’s the length of a staggering 670 football pitches!
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Written and researched by Hazel Martin for Helly and Haz of Helen Swan Designer Jewellery>