Gold Facts and History
Gold has been treasured as the most valuable metal since prehistoric times. Egyptian hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 B.C. describe gold and how it was used for ornamentation, rituals, and as currency. It was one of the gifts of the Magi. Gold was also an important part of pre-Columbian societies such as the Aztecs and Incas.
Probably the most famous discovery of gold was in California in the mid 1800s. The “Gold Rush” brought prospectors from all over America to the West Coast to seek their fortunes in gold.
Geologists think gold was formed by a process when stars become supernovas. On Earth, gold is found mostly in veins in siliceous rocks. Sometimes the solid form is eroded into a powder, granules or nuggets and washed into riverbeds. Dissolved gold can also be found in low concentrations in the sea. Since its discovery in the 1880s, gold from South Africa makes up over 50% of the worldwide supply.
Gold has an atomic weight of 79 and the symbol of Au (for the Latin aurum). On the Mohr’s Scale of Mineral Hardness, gold scores a 2.5 to 3 (with talc being 1 and diamonds being 10) Thus, gold is the softest, most malleable and ductile metal on Earth. It is so soft that an ounce can be pounded into a sheet larger than one square meter. Gold is very easily rubbed away, eroded, scratched, and bent. These qualities make pure gold impractical for jewelry.
Gold is a noble metal meaning it can be combined with many other elements to create many diverse compounds. In order to make gold jewelry harder and durable, it is combined with other minerals such as copper, silver, nickel, zinc and palladium. These compounds are called alloys. The amount of pure gold (99.5% free of impurities is considered “pure” and 100%) in an alloy is determined in karats.
The term “carat” comes from the Greek word for carob seed. In ancient times, gold was weighed against carob seeds because of their uniform weight. Today, when speaking of the weight of gold, the word is spelled “karat” distinguishing it from the term “carat” which is used to describe the weight of gemstones.
A karat weighs approximately one gram and is strictly measured in units of 24. In the United States, The Gold and Silver Marketing Act was passed to ensure the purity of gold pieces. Pure gold is considered to be 24 karat. How much pure gold as opposed to the other metal in the alloy determines the karat weight, and therefore how much it’s worth. In the United States, these numbers are determined by the parts per 24 of pure gold and the common metal. Thus, 18 karat gold is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy (75%); 14 karat gold is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy (58.33%) and 10 karat gold is 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts alloy (41.6%).
The higher the gold content, the more the piece of jewelry is worth. Jewelry that is “yellow gold” often is 24 or 18 karat and prized not just for the hue, but also for the value. Conversely, higher gold content also means the piece is more susceptible to bending, eroding, and scratching. 10 karat gold is the least expensive of the gold alloys (any less gold content is considered valueless and cannot be legally sold or marketed in the United States), but also the most durable and practical.
Typical 10k gold alloys are made with silver, copper, or nickel. The other metal determines the color of the gold jewelry. Silver and nickel alloys are generally lighter and brighter while copper compounds create a redder finish. 10kt gold is ideal for jewelry because of its durability.
10k gold necklaces and 10k gold chains are popular because the color can be altered by the metal added. Because 10 kt gold is mixed with copper, it can have rose tones or red hues and is attractive around the neck. This finish is also lovely in 10k gold bracelets. In addition to being attractive, these pieces are functional because they tend not to break or bend with use. Gold rings—especially those for working men and wedding bands—are usually 10k gold rings because of the frequent wearing.
10 karat white gold has increased in popularity in the US because of its luster and durability. Usually, 10k white gold is 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts nickel or silver (or a combination of the two). Nickel can cause an allergic reaction in some people, so often times, palladium is substituted. These 10 karat white gold pieces are more expensive because the cost of refining palladium is higher.
The term “gold filled refers to pieces that have only a gold veneer on the outside and another metal on the inside. These are the least valuable pieces.
We Buy 10 Karat Gold
Today, gold’s value endures even though the piece of jewelry may not. Online companies such as Cash4Gold purchase broken, unwanted, or old gold jewelry from individuals through a simple mailing process. They purchase all karat weights of gold, except pieces that are gold filled because the actual gold content is not worth the costs associated with processing and melting. Pieces that Cash4Gold purchases include:
-10k gold chains
-10k gold chains
-10k gold jewelry
-10k gold bracelets
-10k gold band
-10k gold bangle
-10k gold necklaces
-10kt gold rings
-10kt gold pendant