Gold is a yellow precious metal which is valued for its beauty and purity since it does not oxidize or tarnish like most other metals. It has been used for coins and jewelry for over 6000 years and has become regarded as a symbol of wealth. Gold is very ductile and is the most malleable of all metals. It can be cast into huge statues or beaten into thin sheets. This malleability makes it too soft to be used in jewelry without being alloyed with other metals.
Gold can be found in rivers, seas and land in many parts of the earth, but it is not easily extracted. Opening a mine is a time-consuming and costly operation and several tons of ore are required to produce just one ounce of the precious metal. Therefore, despite its universal nature, gold remains a precious and rare commodity. In fact, it is estimated that only slightly more than 100,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth during all of recorded history; an amount that could be contained in a 19-yard cube!
First the basics: gold's fineness is measured in karatage, with 24-karat being pure gold. Twenty-four karat gold, even though beautiful, is generally too soft for use in jewelry, so gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength. Eighteen karat gold is 18/24ths, or three-quarters pure gold and jewelry of this fineness is marked 18k or 750, the European designation meaning 75% gold. In the US, 14-karat gold, or 583 parts pure gold, is the most common and pieces are marked 14k. Always look for the karat mark when buying gold jewelry.
When you are shopping, don't be tempted by "bargain" gold prices. There are four factors that determine the price of a piece of gold jewelry: cartage, gram weight, design and craftsmanship. The cartage and gram weight tell you how much gold is in a piece, but other crucial factors determining price are the piece's construction and design. A price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece.
Gold jewelry can come in a rich variety of colors. What we call yellow gold is created by alloying the metal with copper and silver. Prefer green gold? It is made using silver copper and zinc. Love the warmth of pink gold? That's made using copper. The currently popular white gold is made nickel or palladium, zinc and copper.
You know they sparkle. You know they are every girl's best friend. But what makes diamonds so valuable? Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to mankind. That, along with their brilliance and fire, has made diamonds the quite essential symbol of timeless, enduring love. The simplest of all the gemstones, diamond consists of 99.95% pure crystallized carbon. A diamond begins to crystallize far beneath the earth's surface among a mixture of liquids, gases, and crystals. Diamonds can, in fact, be from 1 to 3 billion years old, more than two-thirds the age of the earth itself. In 1477 AD, Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy as a sign of their engagement. He put it on the third finger of her left hand, the finger believed by ancient Egyptians to have a vein that led directly to the heart. She accepted his proposal and the diamond engagement ring was born.
This section contains some basic tips to help keep your diamond looking its best.
Diamonds must be kept clean and be stored carefully when they are not being worn, or are being packed for travel. Because most people wear their engagement ring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it's essential that you're always mindful of its care. Here are some more guidelines to help keep your diamond in top condition:
If you notice a loose stone setting, stones moving or any other noticeable damage to your jewelry, do not wear the jewelry until you have taken it to a professional jeweler. We recommend that you have a jeweler check the setting in your diamond ring once a year.
When you're not wearing your diamonds, be sure to store them in a fabric-lined case or in a box with dividers or separate compartments; diamonds can scratch other jewelry as well as each other.
Avoid wearing your diamonds while doing housework, yard work or any other kind of rough work. Even though a diamond is extremely durable, a hard blow could chip it.
When doing household chores, never allow your jewelry to come into contact with chlorine bleach.
Diamonds, like anything else, can get soiled and dusty. Lotions, powders, soaps, even the natural oils from your skin will create a film on diamonds, which will reduce their brilliance. In addition, chemicals in the air will oxidize or discolor the mountings. Keeping your jewelry clean will maximize its brilliance. Here are four ways ANTOINE SALIBA suggests you clean your diamonds:
Prepare a small bowl of warm suds using any mild household liquid detergent (be sure not to use any cleaners containing chlorine). Brush the jewelry with a soft brush until you have created lather around it. With the jewelry on a plastic or metal strainer, rinse off with warm water (be sure not to clean your jewelry over the drain!) Pat your jewelry dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Make a solution of 4 parts cold-water and 1 part very mild dishwashing detergent. Soak the pieces for several minutes. Lift out and tap gently around all sides of the mounting with a soft brush. Rinse the pieces in the solution once more and drain on tissue paper.
Buy one of the brand name liquid jewelry cleaners, choosing the one that is best for the kind of stones and metals in your jewelry. Read the label carefully and follow the instructions. Do not touch your clean diamonds with your fingers, as the oils from your hands will leave a film on the stone.
There are many types of these small machines available to the public today. They will clean any piece of jewelry that can be soaked in a liquid within a matter of minutes. These machines often have a metal cup, which is filled with water and detergent. When the machine is turned on, high-frequency turbulence is created. Avoid putting emeralds in ultrasonic cleaners.
NOTE: Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and warnings before using these machines. The above methods are not appropriate for pearls, opals, lapis, corals and many other gems. A very quick dip in plain lukewarm water is suggested for these fragile pieces.
Packing your precious diamond jewelry for traveling should be done with utmost care. There are many types of jewelry carrying cases that are specifically designed for jewelry travel, available in all price ranges, sizes, shapes and patterns. Most have velvet pads inside to attach pins and earrings, with special compartments for bracelets and necklaces. Don't ever leave your jewelry on the rim of a sink when you remove it to wash your hands. It can very easily slip down the drain. When you're away from home, don't take off your jewelry in a public place, you may accidentally forget it and lose it forever.