Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to Identify Gold Jewelry Markings

download-14An incredible 165,000 tonnes of gold has been mined till date, since the dawn of human civilization. Not surprisingly, a large fraction of it has been used up in the creation of jewelry items over the centuries. Every year about half of the gold mined over the world goes into creation of jewelry of all kinds, ranging from rings, earrings, necklaces to bangles and other exotic pieces of craftsmanship.

A consumer out there in the market, shopping for a gold ring or necklace for his wife, needs to know whether what he is paying for has pure gold in it or is it just another gold plated piece of junk. To verify the purity level of gold jewelry, a marking system is devised, which indicates the amount of pure gold that is contained within a jewelry item and authenticates its quality. In this Buzzle article, I provide you with an explanation of how to identify gold jewelry markings and verify the purity level of a piece of gold jewelry.

Measurement of Gold Purity

Gold being inherently soft, it cannot be directly molded into jewelry, without mixing it with other metals for strength. That’s why a quality grading system, which can measure the amount of pure gold contained within a gold jewelry item is necessary. There are two existing systems used for this purpose. Gold purity is measured in terms of karat value in the US. Karat value is a specification of the fraction of total weight of a gold item, that is pure gold. The gold of highest purity grading is 24 Kt, which means that it’s 99.99% pure gold.

The scale moves downwards, with 23 Kt, 22 Kt, 21 Kt up till 8 Kt grading. A 12 Kt piece of gold has 12 parts out of 24 by weight, to be pure gold. In Europe, an alternative system is used to measure gold purity, which uses ‘Millesimal Fineness’ as the measurement parameter. It measures purity of a gold jewelry in terms of parts of pure gold per thousand parts. Let us see how to read gold markings and verify its purity in the following lines.

How to Identify Jewelry Markings?

You will need to arm yourself with a magnifying glass to be able to read gold markings as they tend to be engraved very finely. Also get a portable precision balance, which can measure weights from fractions of a gram to multiples of a gram. Here is how you can check for the purity of the product.

Check the Karat Quality Rating
Most modern gold jewelry products have a ‘Karat’ grading inscribed on them. The printed karat value may be anywhere between 8 Kt to 24 Kt. To know the percentage of pure gold by weight, from karat grading, divide the karat grading by 24 and multiply it by hundred. You might want to check out this article explaining how to calculate the value of scrap gold, from karat grading.

Check For Millesimal Fineness Grading
If it’s a piece of European jewelry, the purity grading will be a three digit number less than 1000, with 999 being the millesimal fineness grading which is equivalent to 24 karat gold. The value may be anywhere between a minimum of 333 and a maximum of 999. Divide the value by 10 to get the percentage fraction by weight that’s pure gold.

Look For Brand Name Stamp or Symbol
Accompanying the karat or millesimal grading, there should be a symbol denoting the manufacturer’s brand. From the symbol, you can decipher the jewelry brand it belongs to. Avoid buying jewelry without brand markings.

By identifying the brand name, karat value and the millesimal fineness grading, one can determine the authenticity of gold jewelry quite easily. While buying scrap gold items, you need to be extreme careful in verifying the gold grading quality as chances are that traders will try to fool you. It is best not to go ahead with the purchase of a gold jewelry item, that has absolutely no markings on it. If it’s an old piece of jewelry from antiquity, get a referral evaluation from a jeweler, who would have the necessary apparatus for testing the quality.

How to Clean White Gold

Every woman loves to adorn herself with jewelry. With time and constant usage, the jewelry may lose its shine and become dull, especially when it comes in contact with skin and air. In order to preserve the jewelry in its natural condition, most women, and that includes me, keep our jewelry in cloth pouches. But this, it seems is not enough, as jewelry, especially white gold, tends to become lusterless just after a few times of being used. This article teaches you how to clean white gold ornaments and help keep its shine, beauty, and newness, in check.

Step 1
Take a bowl and put one tablespoon each, of plain water and ammonia, in it. Stir the solution with a spoon so that it gets blended properly.

Step 2
Now take the piece of white gold that needs to be cleaned and put it in this solution. Keep it soaked in the solution for about half an hour.

Step 3
After half an hour, take out the jewelry from the solution and wash it with lukewarm water.

Step 4
Now take a cloth and rub the jewelry piece with it gently. You may need to rub it a number of times, till it regains its original color and shine.

Cleaning White Gold Ring

Step 1
Take a bowl and put one tablespoon of lukewarm water in it. Now add one teaspoon of dish soap and two teaspoons of ethyl alcohol to it, and mix properly with a spoon. Keep on stirring till the soap gets dissolved completely.

Step 2
Put the ring in this soapy solution and leave it there for about ten minutes. This will loosen the debris which gets accumulated in the ring.

Step 3
After ten minutes, take the ring out of the soap water and place it on a piece of cloth. Now take a toothbrush and with it, remove all the dirt and debris from the ring.

Step 4
Once you are done, keep the ring back on the cloth. The ring needs to be washed under the tap to get rid of the debris which results due to brushing it with the brush. Before doing that, put a stopper in the drain so that the ring does not get washed away into the pipe along with the water.

Step 5
After blocking the drain, let the water flow freely from the tap onto the ring for about one minute. Afterwards, take a dry cloth and wipe the ring dry.

Although using the above-mentioned methods will clean your jewelry to a great extent, it is recommended that you take the jewelry piece to a jeweler for getting best results. Jewelers have an ultrasonic machine, which helps in cleaning the dirt and debris lodged even in the smallest of cracks of the jewelry. Normally, putting the white gold jewelry in two cycles of the ultrasonic machines is more than enough to clean it and make it sparkle and shine.

The methods mentioned above should be carried out at least once a month to keep the original shine and luster of your jewelry in place. However, if all these methods fail to give you the results that you desire, the reason could be that its rhodium plating has worn off. If this is the case, getting the jewelry re-plated by a jeweler is the only solution to restore it to its original appearance.

Reasons Precious White Gold is Turning Yellow

Gold has been one of the most valued metals since time immemorial. In its pure form, gold is yellow and very soft. As one of the most common and popular use of gold is in the form of jewelry, it has to be made hard by adding other metals. In short, alloys of gold are used to make jewelry, though some people prefer the pure form. The purity of gold is measured in carats, and 24 carat gold is considered the purest. When other metals are added in different quantities, the purity level decreases to 22 (22 parts gold and 2 parts alloy), 18, and 14 carats.

Throughout the centuries, people loved to wear yellow gold only. So yellow gold alloys were used for making jewelry. The metals used for this purpose are copper and silver. While silver can make the gold greenish in color, copper can make it look more reddish. So, usually, a mix of copper and silver in the ratio of 50:50, is added to gold, so that the yellow color is retained. These metals, when added to gold, do not cause any noticeable color change. However, some people experimented with other metals to produce gold alloys in colors, like white, rose, gray, green, and black.

What is White Gold?

As mentioned above, gold alloys were initially meant for making gold more pliable, in order to produce fine jewelry. This was done by adding metals, like silver and copper, so that the traditional yellow color of gold is not altered. White gold alloys are made by mixing at least one white metal to gold. The commonly used white metals are silver, palladium, nickel, and zinc. White gold was introduced in the 1920s, as a replacement for platinum, which was very expensive and popular. Platinum supply became scarce at that time, and white gold was introduced. Since its inception, such gold jewelry became very popular and replaced platinum to some extent.

So, it is the proportion of the metals in the alloys, that changes the color of gold. The atomic structure of the gold alloy is different from that of pure gold. This atomic structure affects the reflectivity of light of different wavelengths, thereby changing the yellow color of gold to white. However, the original color of white gold may have light grayish or yellowish hue. So, white gold is given a rhodium plating, in order to obtain that white hue. It is rhodium, that gives that bright look and the reflective feature to white gold.

While nickel is one of the most popular metals used for making white gold, it can cause skin rash in people with sensitive skin. So, nickel is not considered healthy. It is also said that nickel has carcinogenic properties. So, palladium, platinum, and silver are mostly used for making white gold. However, people often complain of white gold turning yellow. How does it happen?

Why Does White Gold Turn Yellow

Now, we know that most of the white gold jewelry comes with a rhodium plating, which gives the white hue and reflective nature. Most people mistake these properties as that of white gold. Beneath the rhodium plating, lies the white gold alloy, which can be gray or yellowish gray. So, once the rhodium plating wears out, the color of the white gold alloy can be seen. This is the reason behind white gold turning yellow. So, with regular use, the rhodium plating in white gold jewelry wears out, exposing the inner alloy, which is not ‘white’. Sometimes, yellow gold jewelry is plated with rhodium, and is sold as white gold. In such cases too, you may experience such color change. In short, white gold is not a metal in itself, as pure gold is yellow in color. White gold is actually gold alloys (mixed with white metals), that have the typical ‘white’ color due to the rhodium plating. As the plating fades with time, the inner alloy is exposed, and this is the reason for white gold turning yellow.

Essentially, the quality of rhodium plating is more important. Cheap ones can wear out soon, as compared to a good quality plating. Proper handling is also important, as rough usage can affect the plating. So, buy white gold from authentic and trusted jewelers, and handle it with care.

Methods of Cleaning Tarnished Gold Jewelry

Before we understand how to clean gold, we have to learn the reasons why it gets tarnished in the first place. Gold is inert in nature and does not react with other elements easily. Therefore, there is no chance of pure gold getting tarnished. However, as gold in its purest form (24 carats) is very soft, it is combined with other metals like silver and copper to make it durable. These elements react with atmospheric oxygen, moisture, etc. and end up tarnishing the piece. There are other substances like sweat, natural skin oils, skin care products, makeup, perfumes, etc. which come into contact with gold and discolor it. You must have noticed that the pieces of jewelry made from 18 carat gold do not get tarnished. Jewelry made using 9 to 14 carat gold is more susceptible to tarnishing.

How to Clean Tarnished Gold

Gold is a precious metal. You cannot afford to use the wrong cleaning techniques and cause damage to it. Therefore, do exercise caution while you restore the natural shine of the yellow metal.

Method #1
You can clean your jewelry with the help of mild dish washing liquid and warm water. Prepare a soapy solution by mixing up one quart of liquid soap in one bowl of warm water. Soak the jewelry in this solution for about 5 minutes. Then rub the surface of the jewelry gently with your fingers. If the dirt is stubborn, then you can use a soft bristled brush to scrub it thoroughly. Once all the dirt and debris is removed, rinse it off with warm water. Wipe off excess water with a soft cotton cloth. Then let it air dry for the next 24 hours and place it into the jewelry box. Here, I would like to mention that do not use any kind of harsh or abrasive cleaning agents or a stiff brush for cleaning. As gold is soft, these materials can leave scratches on the piece.

Method #2
Alternatively, you can use a more aggressive method of cleaning with the help of ultrasonic machines. You can purchase a machine for cleaning up tarnished gold jewelry at home. These machines release ultrasonic sound waves for removal of dirt and debris from gold. You have to first pour some cleansing liquid into the machine. Use a mixture of liquid dish washing soap and 95% ammonia for this purpose. Place the jewelry into the machine and switch it on. The ultrasonic sound waves radiated from the machine will break down the dirt present on the jewelry piece and make it clean and shiny without any scratches.

If none of the remedies prove helpful, you ought to seek professional help. Jewelers are more experienced, and they can rightly suggest how to clean gold jewelry which is in a bad condition. If there are some scratches, then it may require polishing with special abrasive papers available with jewelers.

You can prevent any further tarnishing by taking proper care of gold jewelry. Gold jewelry must be stored in protected jewelry box to prevent exposure to dust. Keep each piece of jewelry in separate cases so that they do not scratch each other.