1st Anniversary gift? Go for gold!
Many of us have heard that something made of paper is traditionally given to celebrate your 1st year together, but did you know that it’s also a custom to give gold as a 1st anniversary gift? I know which I’d rather receive!
I’ve come across a lot of gold on my research trips for the Gemstone Detective series. I’ve marvelled at the intricate craftsmanship of traditional jewellery in India, been dazzled by golden Buddha statues in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and panned for gold in the USA.
The meaning of carat and can be confusing to a novice as it means something different depending whether you’re describing gemstones or gold. When used of gemstones ‘carat’ is a unit of weight; when used of gold, ‘carat’ (or ‘karat’ in the US and Canada) is a measure of purity—parts gold to parts other metals. Carat is usually abbreviated to ‘K’, ‘Kt’, or ‘ct’. Gold carat is based on old fashioned measuring system and so the percentage of gold in an alloy is described as parts out of 24. For example 18ct gold is 18 parts gold to 6 parts other metals. In other words, ¾ pure gold.
Flattening gold leaf, Myanmar
You may also have heard the purity of gold described as ‘fineness’, which is simply the metric version of the carat system. Instead of parts per 24, this system measure the purity as parts per 1000. So our 18ct gold would be 750 parts gold and 250 parts other metals. In other words 75% pure gold. Take a look at a piece of gold jewellery you own and you might see a three-digit number as part of the hallmark. 9ct gold will have the number 375, 14ct gold the number 585 and 22ct gold the number 916.
Pure gold is very soft, so needs to be strengthened by mixing it with other metals like silver, zinc and nickel when used for jewellery. A wedding or engagement ring will probably need to be 14ct or lower to avoid dents and distortion from everyday activities. In India, the gold shops tend to sell 22ct gold as this is commonly used in jewellery making. The intricate and ornate detail of traditional Indian jewellery demands a soft metal.
Gold Nugget found at Eagle’s Nest Mine in California USA
Once upon a time yellow gold was the only colour you could find, but in the modern jewellery market, rose gold and white gold have become very popular. The colour of gold depends on the metals used in the alloy mixture. White gold is created by mixing gold with palladium or nickel and fashionable rose gold uses copper to get that soft pinkish tone.
So now you know the basics, it’s time to hunt for that 1st anniversary golden gift. You could always wrap it in paper, after all…
Kim Rix GG GIA – Author
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence
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