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Gold Jewelry Buying Guide - Cleaning Gold

October 20th, 2011 Jewelry

Black Hills Gold is Full of History

An interesting gold jewelry variation is Black Hills Gold. These fun designs include 10K to 12K gold designs in hues like yellow, pink and green and are often leaves, vines and clusters of grapes. While it seems like the name might be devoted to the area where the gold is mined, it actually represents the specific, unique design of the jewelry.

Black Hills Gold is a historic set of designs created in the late 1870s by Henri LeBeauold, who was a goldsmith from France. Legend has it that LeBeaould literally dreamt up the design after fainting from hunger and thirst. To be considered official Black Hills Gold Jewelry, the jewelry must be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Do Gold Jewelry Quality Marks Vary From Country to Country?

In European culture, quality marks for gold are much different. A 999 marking indicates that the gold is 99.9 percent gold, which translates into 24K in U.S. quality marks. A 750 means 75 percent gold or the equivalent of 18K. A 585 means the piece is 58.5 percent gold or 14K.

It’s important to know the quality marks as they vary from culture to culture. Being armed with this information can help you to choose the gold jewelry you desire without compromising quality.

Gold Jewelry is Very Durable

One of the reasons gold jewelry is so popular is because of its durability and its ability to be manipulated. It can be worked into just about any shape, even small strands woven into other materials. Many artists and jewelers use gold to make some of their unique pieces because of the ease in which it can be molded, shaped, woven and integrated into amazing jeweled works of art.

Additionally, pure gold does not create tarnish, which is the residue that you see transfer to your skin. At times, metals mixed in with pure gold can cause this reaction, but it does not come from the gold itself.

Gold Often Contains Additional Metals

Pure gold jewelry is an expensive find because pure gold is rare in anything. In its pure form, gold is very, very soft and very impractical for everyday wear. This is the reason for the introduction of other metals to gold when it comes to jewelry. Mixing metals makes gold jewelry much more durable and perfect for regular wear.

Mixing in other metals to pure gold helps change the color of the jewelry. For example, nickel can be added to gold to make white gold. Copper can be added to make rose gold. When you add outside metals to gold, the resulting product is called an alloy, which is a blended mix of metals.

Being knowledge about how gold jewelry takes its current form can help you to make an informed decision when choosing pieces for your personal collection.

Is Your Gold Jewelry Quality or Costume?

Knowing what kind of gold to buy is key to investing in nice pieces that can last a lifetime and having fun with pieces that will not. For example, if you are looking for jewelry you can wear often, or if you may have an allergic reaction to metals like nickel or palladium, you would do better to invest in jewelry with a very high gold content, meaning 18K and above.

If you want costume jewelry or fun items to last a short time, it is OK to purchase gold plated or gold-filled jewelry. This jewelry will show signs of discoloration after a short period. If you want pieces to last you the rest of your life, purchase the best quality gold you can afford.

Quality is Most Important With Gold Jewelry

Quality is more important than anything else is when it comes to any type of jewelry. Fine artisanship and details are all part of what makes a piece great. When it comes to gold jewelry, as well as those made of other metals, machines do much of the work. However, almost every piece needs the final touch of a jeweler to inspect or repair minor imperfections.

This is where the hallmark of a good jeweler lies and where you can find the value in your gold jewelry. Areas like clasps, latches or settings are important to make your gold jewelry shine. If you have a talented jeweler who has devoted time to making sure the piece is as perfect as possible in every way, it will show. Make sure to hold your gold jewelry in your hand and make sure it feels strong and solid and does not snag. If any of the above happens, question the quality of the jewelry and do not invest in the piece if you are uncomfortable.

The Common Measurements for Gold

In most instances, gold jewelry is marked with its karat, or the amount of percentage of pure gold contained in the piece. Here is a look at what the measurements mean:

  • 24K: Pure Gold
  • 18K: Has 18 parts gold and six parts of at least one additional metal (sometimes more). This means the piece is 75 percent gold.
  • 14K: Has 14 parts gold and 10 parts of at least one additional metal (sometimes more). This means the piece is 58.3 percent gold.
  • 12K: Has 12 parts gold and 12 parts of at least one additional metal (sometimes more). This means the piece is 50 percent gold.
  • 10K: Has 10 parts gold and 14 parts of at least one additional metal (sometimes more). This means the piece is 41.7 percent gold and is the minimum karat that can be referred to as gold in the United States.

Three Main Factors Affect Gold Jewelry Value

There are three main factors that determine the value of a piece of gold jewelry. They are:

Weight: Since gold is sold by weight, it stands to reason that the heavier the jewelry, the more gold content there is contained in it and the more expensive it will be. As gold jewelry gets lighter, it becomes more inexpensive.

Design: Common, manufactured designers will be more cost-effective than one-of-a-kind pieces, which are rare and unique and thereby pricier.

Finish: The finish of a gold piece makes a difference. If a special finish, such as a matte or a sand-blasted finish has been used, the value of the gold jewelry increases.

Tips for Keeping Gold Clean

Gold is a sensitive metal. Gold jewelry should be cleaned with the utmost care. Never use or subject your jewelry to harsh chemicals, such as household cleaning products, chlorine, etc.

When cleaning gold jewelry, use detergent-free soap and warm water. Use a soft-bristle brush to clean off dirt and grime. Keep gold jewelry stores in separate compartments of your jewelry box, in soft cloth or original boxes to protect them from overexposure and maintaining their luster much longer.

Tips for Purchasing Gold Jewelry

These days, with all of the variations of gold jewelry, it can be difficult to determine the quality of a piece of gold jewelry. There are steps you can take to protect your investment and ensure that you are getting your money’s worth in gold jewelry.

  • Choose a reputable jeweler. You want someone who is honest and knows their stuff when it comes to both metals and stones.
  • Get familiar with karat quality marks. Because gold is so soft, it is usually mixed with other metals to get the desired result. The karat quality marks will give you an accurate idea of exactly how much gold is in your piece.
  • Look for a trademark on the jewelry that identifies the manufacturer. A jeweler can help you with this information.
  • Make sure all stones included on the piece are also real and of the highest quality you can afford.
  • The price should reflect the artistry of the jewelry. If the prices seem too low, be suspicious and question your jeweler about the authenticity of both the metal and the stone.

Understanding Gold Prices

Prices vary when it comes to any piece of jewelry. However, gold values for jewelry are based on karat. The rule of thumb is the lower the karat is, the lower the price.

For example, 10K ranges on average from $14 to $20 per gram. Jewelry with a 14K gold content ranges from $20-30 per gram. Eighteen karat jewelry comes in at $27-37 per gram. The higher and higher the weight gets, the more expensive the jewelry will be. Understanding how gold pricing works can help you to accurately paint a financial picture of how much you are willing to spend on your gold jewelry.

What are the Colors of Gold?

Gold comes in a variety of colors, all used to make jewelry seem even more exotic and unique. Common gold hues include:

  • White gold: This color is made when nickel is mixed in with pure gold, which creates a silvery-white color. However, the nickel can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. Palladium is another metal used to make white gold and is more expensive than nickel, but easier on the skin.
  • Rose gold: A mixture of gold and copper is used to create this color. The more copper that is used, the deeper the pink shade will be.
  • Green gold: Green gold is created when pure silver is added to pure gold. This is a less common color seen in gold jewelry.

Anytime you are purchasing gold jewelry, question your jeweler about the origins of the piece and whether or not they are aware of what metals have been mixed to create the color of the gold. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin or are purchasing the jewelry for investment purposes.

White vs. Yellow Gold

The more popular gold options usually come down to a choice between white and yellow gold. It usually comes down to personal style; however, fine jewelry almost always dictates the use of white gold. Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • White gold is more neutral and has a look similar to the coveted platinum metal. It allows gemstones to shine. White gold works best with most clothing choices; yellow gold really only matches certain outfits. White gold almost requires a stone to really stand out.
  • Yellow gold almost bursts with shiny color and is best when worn without a stone. Yellow gold is too bold in its color to properly house a gemstone of any color.
Having a mix of both kinds of gold in your jewelry box ensures that no matter what your mood is or what you are wearing, you have the perfect gold jewelry to match!