AZGem Gems
September, 2005

The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the website who subscribe.


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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Jewelry Precious Metal - Gold


This month we present the second installment in a short series entitled Jewelry Precious Metal.

The primary jewelry precious metals are platinum, gold, and silver. This month we'll talk about gold.

Last month I described platinum as a hard, white metal that wears well in jewelry, but I certainly don't need to describe gold. We all know what gold looks like... or do we?

We know that gold is one of nature's basic chemical elements (atomic symbol AU, from the Latin word aurum) We also know that in its pure state gold is a bright, gleaming yellow color, and that it's a little too soft to wear well in jewelry.

Did you know that most of the world's gold production goes into jewelry?

So how is gold transformed to be suitable for use in jewelry? By mixing harder metals with the gold. The result is called gold alloy.

We commonly refer to the various gold alloys by the amount of gold contained in the mix. The reference can be stated in percentage, fineness, or karat content. The most common, and best understood reference term is by karat.

Pure gold is arbitrarily assigned a value of 24 karat. By alloying a piece of pure gold with other metals the karat (or percentage, or fineness) of the piece is reduced as shown in the table below..

Alloys of 18, 14, 12, and 10 karat gold are considered jewelry precious metal in the USA, and have wear characteristics suitable for use in jewelry. 

Gold Measure
Karat Gold Content Fineness
24K 100% 1000
22K 92% 916
20K 83% 833
18K 75% 750
14K 58% 585
12K 50% 500
10K 42% 417

Alloying can change more than the wear characteristics of gold. By varying the other metals alloyed with natural yellow gold the color can be altered to produce white, green, and pink (rose) gold.

Gold Colors
Gold Color Elements Alloyed with Gold
Yellow Gold-Au, Copper-Cu, Silver-Ag
White Gold-Au, Nickel-Ni, Palladium-Pd, Platinum-Pt, Zinc-Zn
Green Gold-Au, Silver-Ag, Copper-Cu, Zinc-Zn
Pink Gold-Au, Copper-Cu

Gold is the most popular jewelry precious metal used in fine jewelry today.

Gold is not attacked by most chemicals... but chlorine and fluorine can harm your gold jewelry, especially light weight neck chains. There is some chlorine in tap water... and a lot more in most swimming pool water.

Most of the world's gold supply is extracted from huge open pit mines and deep underground mines in Africa, Australia, South America and Canada.

The United States is also a leading producer. There is a huge gold mine in Nevada. In Arizona and a few other large gold producing states, gold and other precious jewelry metals are recovered in the process of mining copper. 

Some gold-colored jewelry is actually made of silver or another metal and then covered by a thin coating of gold. These should not be confused with true karat gold jewelry.

    Gold filled, or gold overlay - A layer of 10K gold (or better) can be mechanically bonded to all significant surfaces. The layer of gold must be at least 1/20th of the total metal weight or it cannot be described as gold filled (typical mark 1/20th 12K GF or 12 Karat Gold Filled).
    Gold plate, rolled gold plate - The same as gold filled except the quantity of karat gold may be less than 1/20th of the total metal weight (typical mark 1/40th 12K RGP).
    Gold electroplate - An electrolytic process where a coating of gold of not less than 10K fineness, with a minimum thickness equivalent to 7 millionths of an inch.
    Vermeil (pronounced ver-may) - Gold with a minimum fineness of 10K mechanically bonded or electroplated over a base of sterling silver, with a thickness of gold at least 120 millionths of an inch.

The world market price of gold is usually a little less than that of platinum, and significantly more than the price of silver.

The commodity price of gold was $463 per troy ounce when this article was written. Gold prices are higher right now than they've been in years.

If you're wondering, a troy ounce is about 10% heavier than your garden variety ounce.

A Google search for the key word phrase precious jewelry metal + gold returns a number of interesting resources.


Next month we'll talk about that other popular jewelry precious metal... silver!

~~~~~~~     ~~~~~~~

Industry News...

 Neiman Marcus Sold

Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is in the process of being acquired by a group of private equity firms.

Company stockholders will receive $100 per share in cash, without interest, following completion of the merger.

The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. operations include the Specialty Retail Stores segment and the Direct Marketing segment.

The Specialty Retail Stores segment consists primarily of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores.

The Direct Marketing segment conducts both print catalog and online operations under the Neiman Marcus, Horchow and Bergdorf Goodman brand names.



Jewelry Dealers

Two recent surveys indicate that higher gasoline prices will hold down growth in holiday sales.

This presents an opportunity for independent jewelry dealers to serve their existing customers and recruit new customers this season.

Most home-based jewelry dealers rely heavily on recommendations from existing customers for new customers and sales.

Your customer base and sales can be increased significantly by a little innovative marketing. For instance, organize a couple of guys-only jewelry parties at friends houses.

Have the host invite his friends. They will become your customers because you offer good deals (low overhead means low prices on quality jewelry).

Your cost for the snacks and drinks should be paid for with a single sale. Offer the host an incentive... $$ off a piece of jewelry for him (sell it to him at your cost).

All the other sales will fatten your bank account.


Jewelry Dealers Program

Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and co-workers?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.

Carolyn Doyle

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