Did you know that around half of all pure gold that is mined today is used to make jewellery? Indeed, jewellery making is the largest single use of gold. But why is gold used in jewellery?
Man has been mining gold for over 5,000 years and gold has been coveted for all that time
Gold was worthy enough to be carried by one of the Three Kings as a gift at the birth of Christ. The death mask of Tutankhamen, a symbol of ancient Egypt, was made in pure gold along as were the gold treasures which surrounded his burial chamber.
From early gold coins that were used as currency to trade with, to the treasure chests full of gold coins and jewels in a Pirates booty. Even modern-day gold medals were awarded in sporting games for the winner of first place (indeed, gold medals used to be made of pure gold up until 1912!). (You can see other Fun Facts About Gold in our article here).
These are just some examples of golds’ place in history since ancient times. Gold has been highly regarded and treasured.
But why is gold used in jewellery making? What makes this precious metal so special, compared to other materials or even other metals.
There are a whole number of reasons gold is often the first choice for making rings, necklaces and bracelets. In this article, we will list just eleven of them:
Why Is Gold Used In Jewellery?
1.Gold Has Been Held in The Highest Esteem Throughout History
Because we have always held gold in high esteem, unequalled by any other metal out there, there is no barrier to someone accepting the design of a piece of gold jewellery – you simply know the quality is already present. Therefore, a designer can concentrate on doing all the selling or persuading of a piece of jewellery in his or her design. He is free to push the creative limits with the design as the gold already carries a huge level of admiration and respect.
2.Gold Looks Beautiful
First and foremost, gold is beautiful to look at. It has a lustre and sheen that is only accentuated with the process of curving, polishing and shaping.
Gold has a rich golden, yellow colour that, early in history, signified the sunlight, the heavens above and the divine.
When yellow gold is alloyed with other metals, different coloured golds can be created. For instance, pure gold mixed with copper will tend towards a rose gold (or red gold); gold mixed with platinum, palladium or silver will be paler and, if also rhodium-plated will produce “white gold”.
3. Gold Is Relatively Inert
Gold doesn’t react chemically with the everyday atmosphere – air, moisture or heat. This means that it doesn’t rust, tarnish or deteriorate. For this reason, we still see gold coins and gold jewellery in museums all over the world which were made hundreds, even thousands, of years ago.
Despite their age, these pieces of gold jewellery and treasures often have no tarnish and have not drastically deteriorated even when exposed to the environment.
4. Gold is HypoAllergenic
As gold is so inert it hardly ever reacts with the skin chemistry or other chemicals we may be wearing (like perfume, body lotions, etc), therefore it rarely causes irritation. Indeed, many of us go back to wearing a pair of gold earrings to recover our ears if we have worn some lesser-quality earrings which have irritated our skin.
5. Gold Holds or Increases in Value over Time
Gold doesn’t drop in value or, if it does, it’s only after an increase. Over time, gold increases in value. This makes it the best investment material of all time. At times of unrest, gold tends to increase in price.
6. There Is A Large Market For Second-Hand Gold Jewellery
Partly because it holds its value so well, partly because people appreciate traditional jewellery making methods and styles, people love buying second-hand gold jewellery and unique designs, plus they often get a good deal which makes it an ideal investment. Unlike most other items that people wear, gold jewellery is recycled time and time again.
7. Gold Symbolised The Gods and Royalty
Gold was one of the three gifts presented to Jesus by the Three Kings. This was because they believed pure gold to be worthy enough to be fit for a king on earth. The Ancient Egyptians associated objects made in pure gold with divine leaders. This later became associated with wealth and someone’s prestige in society.
Because of this, they used gold in objects involved in ceremonies which still goes on now – from ancient religious ceremonies to wedding bands and christening bangles.
The association of pure gold with the gods and royalty, meant all aspiring men and women also coveted gold hence it was used to make jewellery.
8. Gold Was Scarce but Found All Over The World
Because gold was discovered in the earth in many parts of the world. but it was so abundant that it was in fairly scarce supply, it meant it was available to almost all countries but never so abundantly that it would not be valued.
9. Gold Was Used As A Currency
Gold became an excellent material to barter with. It held its value fairly well; it didn’t perish, it was able to be divided into smaller portions and people could transport it easily.
All these reasons made it a perfect form of bartering or currency that any tradespeople from all parts of the world could understand. If people needed to flee one area they could take their wealth with them in the form of gold fairly easily (coins as well as jewellery).
The word “Carat” (or Karat, if you spell it the USA way) originated from the carob bean which was used as a stable measurement of weight with which to weigh gold and indicate the fineness of the gold. The earliest coins were made in pure gold. Later these were mixed with other metals, called an alloy, but they still measured the weight of the gold within the coin to determine its value to others. You can read all about this in our article on “What is Gold Carat (or Gold Karat)?”
The Gold Standard is a monetary system in use today which fixes the price of a unit of a currency against the price of gold.
10. Alloys Meant More Choice and Different Price Points
If Gold is alloyed with other metals, such as copper, it would be less expensive than a pure or nearly pure gold piece. A piece of 22-carat jewellery would be more expensive than a 9-carat piece.
The higher the level of pure gold, or fineness, used to make jewellery, the richer the yellow colour.
An alloy of gold often made pieces of jewellery more durable. A 9ct wedding band will be harder-wearing than an 22-carat or 18-carat wedding band.
11. Gold is Malleable
Because gold is relatively soft it could be stretched, shaped and hammered into many different shapes and styles. You can make gold wire from gold or hammer it into sheets. Gold sheets can be made into a thin gold plate with which portions of entire buildings could be covered and even cosmonauts spacesuits have a very thin, transparent layer of gold over their visor to reflect the sun and protect their eyes.
Many excellent goldsmiths have enjoyed showing off their skills with this precious metal. As gold is so soft, they mixed it with other metals, such as silver or copper (called alloys) to create a strong and more workable metal.
12. Gold Is Conductive to Heat
Because gold is so conductive it rapidly reaches body temperature when it is placed against the skin – this makes it so tactile to wear.
To Conclude …
Gold is and always has been the most sought-after precious metal with which to make jewellery. It looks beautiful against warm skin tones, holds its value and so is a good investment and very rarely irritates. As different levels of fineness are used in jewellery making, there is something for every budget.