Basics of Gold Jewelry

Basics of Gold Jewelry
Basics of Gold Jewelry

Sree Iyer

I had written about Diamonds and how they are priced  a few weeks back and in this blog we describe the making of the jewelry, the metal used, its rating etc. For simplicity, I will stick to Gold based jewelry.

For the longest time, Gold has been the preferred metal used to make jewelry. Pure Gold is not very strong and has to be alloyed with other metals such as Copper, Silver, Platinum or Palladium. In order to determine the content of Gold in the alloy, the term Karat (not to be confused with the Diamond carat, which implies 200mg of weight) is used. Pure Gold is set to be 24 Karats (does not matter how much it weighs). Typical Indian Jewelry is made with 22 Karat Gold (meaning there is 22 parts of Gold and 2 parts of other metal) in the alloy. In Japan, it is not uncommon to see 18 Karat jewelry (e. g. Mikimoto). Likewise in America and the West, one comes across 14 Karat Gold jewelry. Please ensure at the time of purchase that the vendor is certifying the Gold content of your jewelry. This will come in handy when you exchange it or for valuation.

How did it get called as Gold, you ask? It is believed that the Anglo-Saxons appropriated the Sanskrit name Jval or gelwa, yellow and started calling it as Gold.

Jewelry made using Gold and precious stones can be broadly classified into two categories – Open Setting and Closed Setting.

Open Setting is used in two situations – to allow a transparent/ translucent gem to transmit light through the stone and to reduce the overall weight of the jewelry (needless to say, cost goes down too). The upside to an Open Setting jewelry is that it is lighter and costs less than an equivalent Closed setting jewelry. The downside is that the stone may get loose and fall without the wearer noticing it. Open Setting jewelry has to be preserved carefully.

Closed Setting is used typically in heirloom jewelry or when the owner wants to keep it for a long time. Closed Setting jewelry is heavier than Open Setting, all else being the same, but they are sturdy and can last a long time. It is up to you to decide which one you like.

In the next article, we will discuss the pricing of a jewelry and how the various components come together in a product.

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