This week in our blog post, we will be unpacking the meaning of pure gold, how the modern jewellery market has sullied that concept, and why we are returning it to its original chaste splendour.
Even purer than that driven snow
The purest form of gold that you can purchase is 99.99% - the same purity as an investment bullion bar.
The purity of gold is expressed as "karat" - a measurement indicating the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts. This is different to the more familiar term "carat" - a unit of weight used to measure the size of gemstones such as diamonds. "Carat" and "Karat" can however be used interchangeably.
You can calculate the purity (and thus the percentage or amount of gold) of your piece of jewellery, coin or bar by performing a simple mathematical calculation. The amount of gold, is expressed as a number out of 24 parts.
24k/ 24k = 100% in theory, but realistically, there is always about 0.01% lost in the refining process. This is the purest of pure form of gold.
22k/24k = 91.67%. Many Eastern jewellery houses as well as bullion coins like the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, American Gold Eagle and the Kruger Rand are 22k gold.
22k and 24k gold are universally accepted as high gold purity and there is a reason why only these two types of karats are considered to have any investment value.
The Phenomena of the Western & Mainstream Jewellery Market - the Alloy
Any karat lower than 22K gold, is considered to be a low gold value and the unique and special properties of gold start to become distorted and diluted.
We call these deviations from pure gold, "alloys". This is where you find the fashionable variations like rose gold, white gold etc. In our opinion, such terms are misnomers as there really is nothing rosey or white about real gold.
As an example, 18k gold is considered to be a high value karat in mainstream jewellery, right? Well, 18k means that 18 / 24 = 75% gold is in your jewellery and the remaining 25% is made up of other metals such as silver, copper, nickel and brass.
The lower you go, the less gold content there is in your jewellery resulting in less precious metal content. The argument for man-made alloys is that it makes the metal harder and more durable, which is true to an extent, if you want to set stones and the metal is merely the vessel. However, it also just dilutes the gold - making jewellery far more accessible and common.
Although man-made alloys are a relatively modern concept in the jewellery craft, this is actually an ancient concept, previously known as debasement. As far back as Ancient Rome, governments debased coins, diluting the value of the coins and thus robbing citizens on purchasing power, as your once valuable coin, suddenly did not get you as far.
Then there is the arena of costume jewellery; the so called vermeiled, plated and filled jewellery that the method that the majority of Western jewellery brands use.
We will deal with these types of jewellery in a later blog post, but in a nut shell this type of jewellery is made of base metal - nickle, brass and the like - and then covered / vermeiled / plated / filled with a thin layer of gold. This practice is unregulated so the thickness of this gold layer could be anything from gold leaf thickness, to 7 millionths of an inch.
Ultimately, what alloys do for the jewellery industry is they create obscurity - a convenient grey area where obscene markups can be charged, and profits made.
Two common questions we get relating to the effect that this has on your jewellery are:
- Why has my 18K engagement ring, which I stored safe in its pouch for a couple of years, turned black / tarnished / discoloured?
- I went to get my grandmother's ring valued - its really gorgeous - lovely big stone and I know it was very pricey at the time - but the valuation certificate says it's worth 20% of its purchase value. How can this be?
We shall be answering these and other commonly asked questions in another blog post.
Pure is Rare
Modern, higher-end Western jewellery is dominated by 18K and lower karats. What people don't understand about alloys is that the lower the gold content, the lower the intrinsic value of the piece, as a result of the dilution of the precious metal.
Pure, natural gold has some very unique, valuable characteristics that make it the time-tested store of value - a practice centuries old.
- It does not tarnish over time - in other words, it's value is immortal;
- It is antimicrobial - it prohibits bacteria from growing on its surface;
- It is hypoallergenic - as a result of its purity, it does not cause an allergic reaction (any lady who wears earrings, knows how painful this can be!)
- It holds a universal value - the value is not subjective, it will be valued the same anywhere, anytime.
- It is malleable, but indestructible.
- The amount of gold on earth is finite - gold came to earth via meteorites, millions (possibly billions) of years ago. It is estimated that 197,576 tonnes of gold has ever been mined.
The Nebü Guarantee
Nebü is taking the goldsmith practice back to its roots, as mother nature intended it to be.
Because Nebü is committed to offering our clients the purest, best quality gold - value that is truly immortal - we keep it simple. We don't use any kind of stones and we only craft our heirloom pieces from pure gold.
Through our pure gold jewellery, we are committed to giving our clients genuine, everlasting value. Pure gold is the only type of gold that NEVER tarnishes.
Through our timeless pieces, we play our part in ensuring that our natural heritage is timeless, as well. More on that later.
Start your legacy. Invest in Mother Earth.
Nebü - pure, legacy jewellery. By nature.
Have a great weekend, darlings!