Colors and Characteristics of Gold

Gerald D. Sisk, Jr. Co-Founder Jewelry Television® Have you ever wondered how gold jewelry is manufactured in so many different colors? You are probably familiar with the traditional yellow, white, and rose varieties, but did you realize that other colors exist? Although much more rare and exotic, colors such as blue, purple, red, and various shades of green gold are possible. This is done through the science of alloying. While many of these qualities are of importance to various industries, the fact that gold is malleable, ductile, and resistant to corrosion is very important to jewelry manufacturers. Gold Characteristics Malleability Gold is so malleable that it can be hammered out into extremely thin sheets. As a matter of fact, one ounce of gold can produce a sheet so thin that it will cover approximately 100 square feet. Gold leaf, used to adorn buildings and embellish objects, is one application of this property. Ductility Ductility is another important quality for jewelers. Gold can be drawn out into amazingly thin wires without breaking. One ounce of gold can produce a wire nearly five miles long. Beautiful pieces of handmade jewelry can be created due to gold's ductility. Corrosion Resistance The third and equally important quality is gold's resistance to

corrosive elements. No single acid and very, very few chemicals will react with gold, making it extremely stable and long lasting. Now...back to the subject of alloys. Gold Fineness When talking about gold, its fineness is measured in parts per thousand. In practical terms, gold can be refined to approximately .999 purity. However, for jewelry purposes, other metals are added to gold to form a mixture or alloy that is more durable and useful for manufacture. In terms of jewelry, the fineness of gold is designated in karats, and is commonly abbreviated with "kt" or "k." Base metals are the more common metallic elements, such as copper, zinc, and nickel, that are used to alter the appearance and/or durability of the alloy. The second group, called noble or precious metals, includes gold, silver, and the platinum group. To determine the percentage of gold in any piece of jewelry, simply divide the karat content by 24 and multiply by 100. Therefore, 18kt is .750 pure (18/24 x 100) or 75 percent gold. So, 10kt and 14kt are 41.7 percent and 58.3 percent gold, respectively. The remainder may be any combination of base or noble metals. While the amount of pure gold is standardized for all karat jewelry, there are no fixed guidelines for the types and percentages of base or precious metals alloyed. Many manufacturers make 18kt white gold products, although the process is somewhat like creating a cake. While a basic recipe exists, many ingredients may be substituted or replaced as needed. In the case of 18kt white gold, a manufacturer might use a combination of nickel, copper, and zinc, or if creating nickel-free gold, a combination of palladium and silver would be used. Once again, the amount of pure gold (75 percent) does not change, just the types and percentages of the alloys added to it. There are as many recipes for 18kt white gold as there are for apple cinnamon cake. Colored Gold Let's explore some of the more exotic colors. To produce green gold, varying amounts of silver, copper, and cadmium may be alloyed in differing percentages to create a range of shades. Pinks to reds require varying amounts of copper and silver. Some colors, such as purple and blue gold,

containing aluminum and iron, respectively, are much more difficult to produce yet are stunning in appearance. It is important to note that certain minimum percentages of metallic elements are needed to create some of the more exotic colors. Therefore, certain colors may be limited to 10kt, 14kt, or 18kt. Generally white, rose, and yellow golds are available in all three karatages. Whatever your preference, alloys can provide a wide range of colors and shades that are certain to satisfy even the most demanding individual. Shop the colors of gold at

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