Jewellers Education
Jewellery Industry & News For Goldsmiths

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Gold – Symbol of Opulence, Prosperity and Purity

For eons, gold has been and still is among one of the most treasured precious metals on the planet.

It is not only a brilliant adornment to wear, but in many circumstances doubles as a hedge against inflation and fractured or fracturing economies on top of the ease that it could be liquidated at the drop of a hat. However, the primary bulk of the mined gold on the planet is directed towards the jewellery trade as people just love to wear gold and it is due to this very reason that there are some things that you should pay attention to when you go out and buy gold.

When it comes to buying gold jewellery the most important thing that gold buyers need to understand is that there are variations in gold that are determines its purity, quality and price on top of gram weight and design. Purity of gold jewellery is usually indicated by a marking on a gold jewellery piece that is determined by karats. It is actually a very simple concept, whereby 24 k = 100 % gold and anything below 24 k has a mixture of other metals, for example 18 karat gold jewellery will contain 75 % gold and the remainder 25 % will usually be a mixture of other metals (Usually common metal, such as zinc, copper, nickel or precious metals such as platinum or silver) that give the gold jewellery piece its colour tone and hardness.

As for the price of gold jewellery pieces such as chains, earring or necklaces, it is determined by not only the purity of the gold but also its weight and the alloy it is combined with (for instance if it is combined with silver, it will be worth more than if it is combined with copper) not to mention the amount of skill and labour that was exerted on the particular piece of jewellery (reputation of the goldsmith also plays a role here).

As for the colour of jewellery that contains gold (yellow gold, white gold, rose gold etcetera) it all depends on the mix, for instance combining pure with white metals, such as palladium or silver in combination, creates white gold which has become the preferred choice for wedding bands in most parts of the world. On the other hand if pure gold is combined with copper, it produces a distinct soft pink complexion which is more popularly referred to or regarded as ‘rose gold’ and although there are other varieties of gold that come in a wide range of colours that include, blue, green, black and purple, the most popular gold colour has and perhaps, will always be yellow gold which is noted for its distinct and mesmerising rich yet subtle characteristics.

Another factor that is worth noting when it comes to buying jewellery such as wedding rings or bands, necklaces, bracelets, earrings or anklets is identification of the piece. Most branded jewellers usually have a stamp or mark that indicates not only the karat, but also the jeweller themselves which is controlled via the hallmarking system under the Vienna convention of 1972.

Based on the fact that buying gold jewellery depends a lot on trust, buying jewellery from a reputed gold dealer would be an advisable approach towards buying and owning a good piece of jewellery as they do not only ensure the reliability and the authenticity of the pieces, but they also attach the pieces with ‘value’ that could be redeemed upon resale to individuals who appreciate jewellery craftsmanship.

Selling authentic jewellery pieces to gold refiners and second-hand gold dealers is never recommended as the ‘craftsmanship’ value is omitted from the piece and only the value for the gold content is offered to sellers.

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Buying Jewellery

When it comes to jewellery, most of us are torn between how they look and what they cost making it extremely difficult to make a decision. It is because of this that it is always better to have some general idea of why you are going to the jewellers and how much you will be able to afford before you walk into the jewellers.

First and foremost it is essential that you understand and sink in the fact that everyone has a limitation in terms of budget, thus before even going to the jewellers it is good to determine your budget’s high and low. Once you have determined the maximum and minimum that you are willing to spend on a jewellery item, you should essentially do some homework on specifics relating to brands, designers and market prices of not only precious metals but also precious stones if at all you are planning to get a jewellery item that has stones on them. Before moving on to the nitty-gritty details of buying jewellery the most important thing that you should be aware of is that when you buy jewellery it should never be considered as an investment for a number of reasons.

Firstly when you buy jewellery made up of precious metals (without precious stones) you are not only paying for the gold, silver, platinum or palladium content, but you are also paying for the jewellery design, the cost of business operations and other miscellaneous costs that the jeweller incurs to run his business. These costs are never included in the resale value as gold buyers only pay for the gold or other precious metal content in the jewellery as more often than not the jewellery piece will be sent to a refinery where it will be smelted.

Designer Jewellery

Designer jewellery often involves the use of gold, platinum or both. One reason why platinum is often the preferred precious metal by high end jewellers is due to its ability to compliment diamonds and other precious stones. Gold on the other hand is often used for pure metal designs that at times include a blend of platinum, palladium or silver if precious stones have been incorporated into the design.

The ring depicted on the left is a 3 hue 18K yellow gold, 14K rose gold and 18K platinum ring that has been crowned by a Cartier diamond. The retail price for the ring is 12,000 dollars with the diamond making up 60 % of the cost, while 25 % of the cost is attributed to the precious metal content and the remainder 15 % is accounted for design and overheads.

Similarly the ring depicted on the right costs a mere 3000 dollars with the same precious metal makeup but without the precious stone. Although it costs much less and does not have a precious stone embedded in it, the ring on the left won the ‘best wedding band design award for 2013. Buying designer jewellery should not be driven by ‘trend’ based factors; instead it should be based on personal preferences that ought to be within the individual’s affordability range.

Buying an expensive piece of designer jewellery ring only because others have it can be the most foolish thing that an individual could do in their lifetime, only because the piece of jewellery will remain a constant reminder of paying for something that you sincerely do not find attractive. If you do plan to buy jewellery for someone else besides yourself, it would be best to buy plain jewellery that contains more precious metal content rather than intricately designed jewellery riddled with stones.

Understanding Karats

Surprisingly many people who mention the word karat when talking about jewellery made from precious metals have very vague ideas of what they actually represent besides knowing for a fact that the higher the karat the more expensive the piece of jewellery is. The simplest way to explain the karat measurement is to know that the highest karat is 24 Karats.

This basically means that an item consists of 24 parts out of 24 parts of the same substance and thus when an item is referred to as 22 karat gold, it simply means that 22 parts out of 24 parts of that item is gold with the other 2 karats consisting of some other substance. In terms of calculating the percentage of an item that is 22 karats, one simply divides it by 24 and multiplies it by 100 i.e. 22/24 x 100 = 91.6%, thus a 22 karat gold ring that weighs 10 grams for instance would contain 91.6 % gold with the remainder 8.4 % consisting of some other material, therefore a 22 karat gold ring that weighs 10 grams would only contain 9.166 grams of gold i.e. 22/24 x 10 grams. To make it even simpler the table below converts karats into percentages.

24 Karats 100 % gold

22 Karats 91.666 % gold

20 Karats 83.333 % gold

18 Karats 75 % gold

16 Karats 66.666 % gold

14 Karats 58.333 % gold

12 Karats 50 % gold

10 Karats 41.666 % gold

The lowest content of gold for jewellery to be considered precious metal based jewellery is 10 karats. Second hand jewellery buyers often have a table with the prices that they offer for each karat class.

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The Wedding Ring

The wedding band or ring is a symbol of holy matrimony, it indicates that the person who is wearing it has been ‘taken’ and they ‘belong’ to another individual of the opposite sex mentally and physically. From a cultural aspect the ‘wedding ring concept’ is believed to have originated from Europe, however, the custom has spread far and wide and in the current day and age it is practiced by almost every other culture on the planet. In the beginning, it was only customary for the bride to wear a wedding ring, however as women became more liberal the custom eventually transcended and men were required to wear a ring as well. The centuries old tradition has become the defining factor between the vows that are exchanged between husband and wife. However, how the ring looks, feels and costs is a different ballgame altogether.

Wedding rings are usually forged in gold with intricate designs that are suited to the wearer’s sense of fashion; however wedding rings are not always made of metal, some cultures use wooden or marble rings and the Chinese are known to use jade, however gold remains to be the most popular choice for rings. The price of the jewellery piece ultimately depends on the composition of the jewellery which the bride and groom choose. White gold, 18K, 22 K, platinum, titanium and a variety of other precious metals are all candidates of the wedding band. Buying a wedding ring has always been considered the ‘highlight’ of a couple’s path towards holy matrimony and it is usually a costly and keeping within a predetermined budget is also one of the most important aspects of getting married as couples venture into the world together as a team and start their family from scratch. There are a variety of ways that couples could procure a wedding ring that is not only within their means, but also cost effective.

Instead of buying gold rings that are decorated with gem stones (which would make the price of these rings increase exponentially), opting for simpler and bland designs that would remain in fashion for a long time would be a good approach if a budget needs to be observed. Typically a gold ring would weigh between 10 grams to 40 grams depending on size, however when jewellery is concerned the price paid is not only for the precious metal, but also for the design. Thus a simple straightforward plain design (without gemstones) would cost much less than a ring that is intricately designed. Bear in mind that intricate designs do go out of fashion and thick rings that are heavy, are not only uncomfortable, but also cumbersome as the designs jagged edges may snag clothing items and tend to get knocked around a bit more than smooth plain designs that are not only cheaper, but much more comfortable to wear. Thus it is better to choose a wedding ring that will represent the marriage’s long term objective – smooth and un-obstructive.

If gold is beyond your means, silver wedding rings could also do the trick; after all, it is not just about the ring, it is about, you, your partner and the lifelong commitment. Silver rings would cost less than a hundred dollars as opposed to gold rings that might cost and easy thousand. So if you have budget constraints, don’t fret, be honest about it to your partner and get a silver ring for the time being as an upgrade on your 1st, 5th or 10th anniversary is always possible. You will not only have a lot of time to save up for it, but it will also come as a wonderful surprise and reignite the flame of love!

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Tying the Knot

A wedding is a one of the most important events in an individual’s life and generally it only happens once. Everything that happens on that day is a cause for concern, from the attires, venue, the theme, the band, the cake, the seating arrangement, the caterers, the guest list and even the wedding ring, everything becomes a singular priority. As far as the attire goes, it has to not only match the theme and jewellery but also the decor. The cake supplier and the caterers on the other hand must at least have a proven track record with previous occasions and if you are planning to have a band – jazz always works.

If we were to take a step back and look at the entire event, not even one of the elements mentioned above is as sacred as the wedding ring! The epitome of the event is when that piece of jewellery is worn by the bride and groom and they are proclaimed ‘man and wife’ – they have tied the knot!

Selecting a wedding band has more to it than most people think and it should be so as the wedding memories fade, the ring remains on your finger as a constant reminder of that beautiful day and you will be wearing that ring for the rest of you natural life. No matter what people say, if you need something to last as long as ever, it should be made of gold, gold does not tarnish over time and will retain that shine (provided it is at least 18 K gold or above, the lesser the karat the lesser the gold content and mixing gold with too much of another element – will cause the alloy to lose its shine as the other metals oxidize).

Choosing the gold ring is another aspect of the wedding that should be given much thought as it will remain in your hand for a long time and you would not want the piece to run out of fashion too fast and neither would you want it to be an uncomfortable piece. However, all this depends on your budget and the simple truth is wedding rings can be extremely affordable, if
you knew the essence of it. Wedding rings embedded with precious stones are not advisable due to the fact that it is not only expensive, but over the course of time you might lose a stone or two and replacing these stones or getting them refitted can prove to be a daunting task. Thus, the best way to go about it is to get a wedding band that is elegantly simple and made up of 18 – 22k gold that will not only cost much lesser, but would also maintain its shine basically forever.

Another option is to go for platinum (if you prefer ‘silverish’) and although it might be a bit pricey (but still cheaper than gold) it too behaves much like gold and does not lose its gleam or shine and will remain ‘loyal’ to your fingers. As for the groom, titanium would be a good option as it is not only cheaper than gold, but it also has a much more ‘manly’ nature to it. However, the most important thing to remember when you tie the knot is the vows that you make, it is much more important than any other factor of the wedding. The gold ring, the grandeur of the occasion and the well wishing guests will not be there when things will get tough and they will! As the old adage goes when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!

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