“Au” is the chemical symbol for gold from the Latin “aurum” which means “shining dawn”. Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn who was linked to the warm yellow colour of gold.
One of earth’s greatest gifts and precious metals, gold has come to be known as the “symbol of kings and the treasure
of nations, desired by all but possessed by few”. Gold is steeped in history. Most of all the gold that has ever been used throughout history is still in circulation today in some way or another. The Bible is filled with references to gold – from the story of “the golden Calf” to “The golden Rule” (do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
First discovered around 5000BC together with silver and copper, these metals are found in the metallic state in the earth’s crust and are found in large chunks known as nuggets or as small flakes. It is unsure what the exact date of the first human use of gold was, but it is suspected to have been used by prehistoric cavemen as tools. The Egyptians used it to decorate their kings and their tombs. Most Egyptian tombs were raided, but the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered undisturbed by modern archaeologists. Inside was not only the largest gold object ever found (a 111kg beaten gold coffin), but inside there was also the largest collection of gold and jewellery in the world. The quality showed the advanced state of Egyptian craftsmanship and gold work. In the 19th century, the gold rush was a result of the discovery of excessive amounts of gold in the USA and Australia. The primary use of this was for gold currency until it was replaced by more convenient paper money and metal coins.
Originally, a carat was measured based on the Carob seed used by the ancient Middle Eastern merchants. Today the carat is used for measuring both the weight of gemstones and gold. Pure gold is defined as 24 carats. The higher the carat number means the higher the percentage of gold present. For example, 18ct. Gold contains 18 parts gold, mixed with 6
parts of one or more additional metals making it 75% gold.
And, if the colour of your Gilt is:
• Yellow – the combination is gold + silver + copper
• Pink – the combination is gold + copper
• Green – the combination is gold + silver
• White – the combination is gold + nickel, palladium, platinum and zinc
In its purest form it is often too soft to be worn as jewellery. Other metals are added to make it more durable (as well as to change its colour). White gold is achieved when nickel or palladium is added. Silver gives gold a greenish tinge whilst adding copper produces rose gold. Like a recipe, metallurgists mix various metals together in order to get the right colour and quality of gold.
It has been exploited for its presumed medical properties throughout history. The Egyptians used to use gold for fillings as long as 4500 years ago. No wonder seeing how gold is non-toxic and malleable yet tough. Unaffected by air, water and even most acids, and tarnish-resistant – it would have seemed perfect at the time for filling teeth! Today, gold is still used extensively for dentistry for teeth, attachments, inserts and solders.
Medieval European alchemists mixed powdered gold into elixirs knows as “portable aurum”. This was used to treat depression, fevers and fainting. In ancient Rome gold salves were used for the treatment of skin ulcers.
Today, gold is an effective medicine for controlling some types of arthritis. Gold treatments don’t provide a cure, but, apparently, do help relieve joint pain and stiffness, reduce swelling and bone damage as well as the chance of joint deformity and disability. Its marvellous electrical conductivity, malleability and resistance to corrosion also allows it to be used in a wide range of electronic products and equipment, including computers, telephones, cellular
phones and home appliances.
The Gilt Trip Facts:
• The amount of gold nuggets being found in the world is less than one percent.
• It is so soft and malleable that an ounce can be drawn into a wire about 155 kilometres long.
• Gold can be hammered so thin that sunlight can shine through it.
• It is used in window glass and astronaut helmets to reflect infrared rays while allowing sunlight to pass through while keeping it cool at the same time.
• A one ounce gold nugget is more rare to find that a five-carat diamond.
• Gilding is coating the surface with a thin layer of gold by electroplating.
• Rolled gold Plate is a description for base metal covered by a sheet of no less than 9ct gold, but the weight of the carat gold is less than one-twentieth of the total article.
• Gold Plate refers to base metals covered with a thin layer of gold by electroplating.
• The most popular finish, “High Polish”, is created with buffing wheels holding compounds such as jewellery rouge.
• “Satin finish” is achieved by rubbing super-fine steel wool in one direction or sandblasting with a mixture of quartz and silica sand washes.
• High levels of acidity or other chemical factors such as high sulphur content in perspiration may tarnish non-gold alloy in jewellery (oily skin is a clue).
As the perfect commodity, gold remains the undisputed and unrivalled currency with unique properties and is an important export for Australia. Gold is a precious metal of wealth, beauty and commerce. For pieces that will last a lifetime and beyond, buy the highest quality gold your budget allows and add that warmth and glow to your jewellery box with a golden treasure.
There isn’t one page in the ancient or modern history of the human race where gold doesn’t play a part. There isn’t one day in any fine jewellery store on the planet when gold isn’t at the heart of the business.
Gold – My Gilt Trip – is such an obliging little substance!
Robert Cliff Master Jewellers
Shop 380A Castle Towers
Castle Hill, NSW 2154
p | 02 8850 5400
02 8850 7999
e | [email protected]
w | robertcliffmasterjewellers.com.au