Gold has been called the most beautiful of all chemical elements. Its beauty has made it desirable for use in jewellery, coins, and artwork for thousands of years. It was one of the first pure metals to be used by humans.
The chemical symbol for gold is Au. The symbol comes from Aurum the Latin word for gold meaning “shining dawn.”
Gold is both ductile and malleable. Ductile means it can be drawn into thin wires. Malleable means capable of being hammered into thin sheets. A piece of gold weighing only 20g can be hammered into a sheet that will cover more than 6m2. The sheet will be only 0.000025mm thick.
The abundance of gold in the Earth’s crust is estimated to be about 0.005 parts per million. That makes it one of the ten rarest elements in the Earth’s crust.
About a quarter of the world’s gold comes from South Africa. Other leading producers of the metal are the United States, Australia, Canada, China, and Russia.
A relatively soft metal in its pure form, gold is mainly used combined with other metals to form an alloy. Alloys generally have properties different from those of the individual metals they are comprised of. Gold is usually hardened by alloying with copper, silver, or palladium. The gold content of an alloy is commonly stated in carats, a carat being 1/24 part by weight of the total mass. Pure gold is therefore 24 carats fine.
Fineness is also expressed in terms of parts per thousand, for example:
24 carat or pure gold contains 999 parts gold per thousand and has the symbol Au999
22 carat gold – an alloy containing 916 parts gold per thousand is Au916
18 carat gold – containing 750 parts gold per thousand has the symbol Au750
14 carat gold – with 585 parts gold per thousand is Au585
We do not stock gold pieces lower than 14 carat as we believe a gold alloy should contain more than 50% gold to be classed as such.
Pure gold is always yellow, however, there are many colours of gold alloys available:
Yellow gold alloys are usually comprised of gold, silver and copper.
Green gold, is an alloy of gold with silver.
Alloys of gold with copper are red to reddish.
Grey gold, is an alloy of gold with palladium.
White gold, on the other hand, as sold on the high street is most usually an alloy similar to grey gold which may also contain zinc, chromium, iron and nickel. This alloy is cheaper to produce than grey gold and is normally plated with rhodium to give it the appearance of platinum. However this plating wears off in time and needs to be re-plated regularly. We do not recommend this material as we believe it lacks integrity.