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Gold is the precious metal most widely used by jewellers and jewellery shops. Pure gold is non-oxidising and is very soft, so it is never used in its pure state for gold jewellery but always with an alloy. The alloy has the additional advantage of giving the gold different colours:
A selection of gold alloy
- Light or deep yellow gold (silver and copper alloy).
- Rose or red gold (copper alloy).
- White gold (nickel and zinc alloy).
- White gold with palladium. This is more expensive and a brighter white than normal white gold and is then preferable in case of nickel allergies.
In Europe, the term gold usually applies to metal of 18 carats or more.
The number of carats determines the pure gold content.
- 24ct = pure gold
- 22ct = 91.7% pure gold
- 18ct = 75% pure gold
- 14ct gold alloy = 58.3% pure gold
- 12ct gold alloy = 50% pure gold
Care and maintenance
Despite the inclusion of an alloy, gold remains a soft metal that marks easily and can wear away with repeated rubbing.
It is important to take care of your gold jewellery and to avoid any sharp impact on it.
For example, you should remove your gold rings and jewellery once at home to help protect them. You should also make a point of checking the setting of diamond rings once a year using a jeweller’s loupe. If you are in any doubt about the condition of your ring, do not hesistate to show it to a specialist.
If a ring is dull, scratched or lightly oxidised, it is possible to have it repolished. In the case of white gold, it is necessary to apply a coating of rhodium. White gold is never as white as platinum – it has a light grey-yellow tint. Once polished, traces of rhodium deposited during electrolysis are removed.
Cleaning jewellery is straightforward: you can use any product, even mild acid, and gold can be dipped in boiling water. Mercury, however, is highly corrosive.