- It's rare.
- It doesn't tarnish or corrode in normal use.
- Pure gold is softer than lead.
- Gold is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Silver is even better, but tarnishes easily, so gold is often preferred.
- Alloying with other metals makes gold harder, yet it retains its resistance to corrosion.
- Alloying makes it possible to produce different colours, like rose gold and white gold.
- Since antiquity, it has been worked with simple tools to produce beautiful jewellery.
Since Roman times, gold has been mined in Wales. However all
mines have closed.
Welsh gold looks exactly the same as any other gold, but it is very rare and stocks will soon be exhausted.
That makes it valuable, also it costs more to mine than other gold. Why?
1) There is much less gold per ton of ore than elsewhere.
2) Wages are higher in the UK than in many other countries where gold is mined.
3) Most mining took place in the Snowdonia National Park. So pollution controls were high, and waste had to be hidden. That increased mining costs.
Much jewellery sold as Welsh gold only contains a small trace of Welsh gold. Often the designs are beautiful and so this jewellery is worth buying, but do make sure you understand what you are getting.
18ct gold is 18ct gold. Whatever the age, the amount of
gold in the alloy is the same.
Why is old gold sometimes a different colour? The colour depends on the other metals in the alloy. The same colour could be produced today, it just depends on what is fashionable.
Which will last longer? Jewellery does slowly wear out when worn, so in theory a new piece will outlast a secondhand item of the same quality. However on rare occasions new items may have faults which only become apparent with time - normally the supplier will rectify these free of charge. But such problems are less likely to occur with secondhand items.
Second-hand items often are better value for money. Most people prefer to buy new, so second-hand items can be a bargain. Also it gives you a chance to find something really unusual.
Normally the label makes it clear if jewellery is not solid gold, only plated with gold.
Some plated jewellery will last for many years. See if the thickness is described in microns. Under average use you will wear away 1 micron every 2 years, so 10 microns should last 20 years. Rings suffer above average wear, while ear-rings last longer.
Take special note of these terms.
Rolled gold: originally a sheet of brass was placed between 2 sheets of gold, and they were rolled out until they merged, nowadays the term normally refers to electo-plated gold, often of good quality, but do check what the label says.
9ct back and front: a term which is no longer legal, but is sometimes seen on old jewellery. It means the item is plated with 9ct gold on the back and front of the base metal.
Silver electro-plated with gold. You get the golden colour
with the lower price of silver. Like any gold-plated item the
plating will eventually wear away, so do find out the thickness
of the plating before you buy.
Also if the piece needs repairing or altering, the plating will be damaged. The cost of having the item re-plated can be significant. So I prefer plain silver, which is a beautiful metal in its own right.
Take a lump of gold and hammer it out until it's almost
transparent and you have gold leaf. It looks great, and was
popular on picture frames.
It also gives splendid protection from the weather for many years, much better and longer-lasting than paint. So it's used on church weathercocks which are difficult and expensive to paint.