Gold has been a measure of value since time immemorial. In recent years, far from falling in value, the value of gold has sky-rocketed. I wish I’d taken notice of the advice I was given about 20 years ago, to “invest in gold.”
Old gold jewelry is now sought after by buyers, hoping to make a quick buck on your old treasures. Don’t sell it for a song, is my advice. Precious memories are tied up in your family heirlooms, particularly baby and children’s jewelry.
But how much gold is there really, in jewellery items? I have discovered jewelry advertised as 9ct, 10K, 14K 18ct, 22ct, 24ct and more. Also I’ve seen advertised: gold filled, gold plated and gold layered. What does it all mean?
Well, in Australia, we use the word carat to describe the purity of gold. In the US and Canada, the word karat is used. As an example, 9ct is a little more than one third pure gold. Pure gold is 24 ct. but is too soft to be used in jewelry. 22ct gold is the highest purity generally used in jewelry. Other metals are mixed with the gold to make it stronger and harder and this is called an alloy (mix of metals.)
Other metals which can be used in creating gold jewelry are copper, which reddens the alloy, silver, which greens the alloy, zinc, which gives a bleached appearance to the alloy, nickel, which whitens the alloy and palladium which also whitens the alloy. How many jewelry buyers knew that, I wonder?
The use of nickel is generally not used in children’s jewelry for health reasons. Baby and children’s jewelry is mostly made in 9ct, up to 18ct gold for purposes of hardness.
Gold filled is often abbreviated as g.f. According to WikiAnswers, gold filled generally means there is less gold used than 10K in fact, “usually 1/20 or 1/12 KT. In this technique a sheet of gold is mechanically applied to the surface. Victorian pieces are likely to be unmarked, but later pieces are marked with the fineness of the gold layer, and the part by weight of the gold. For example any piece marked "1/10 12K G.F." is composed of at least 1/10 12K gold based on the weight of the finished piece. In the U.S. gold - filled pieces must be at least 1/20 by weight to be classified as gold-filled.”
Gold layered is an electrical process. A piece of base metal, usually brass, is submerged in a plating solution and then an electric current is passed through both the solution and the item being plated. There are many different solutions depending on the amount and color of gold to be plated. This process moves individual atoms of gold out of the solution and onto the item being plated. The gold plate is thereby coated evenly, a few molecules thick, over the piece of jewelry. In other words, “gold layered” is “gold plated.”
I hope this gives a little more understanding about the gold used in jewelry and the important reasons why all gold is not necessarily ALL gold.