In some countries gold jewellery is sometimes thought of as an investment or indication of wealth, in western cultures it is often given as a token of love or bought as a fashion accessory.
Nowadays nearly 80% of European gold jewellery is manufactured in Italy - the Italians are the masters of style and produce some of the most stunning gold jewellery designs in mainly 14 and 18 carat gold.
Besides the design of the item of jewellery, which is down to taste and your own judgement, you should consider two main things:
Carat - This denotes the percentage of real gold in any item. Pure gold is 24 carats, but this is generally unsuitable for jewellery because it is soft and vulnerable to scratching. At the less expensive end of the scale in the UK, 9 carat gold (37.5% pure) is used, however, the optimum tends to be 18 carat as this is purer (75%), wears better and keeps its lustre. Your assurance of the purity is given by the item's Hallmark, which shows it has been tested (assayed).
Colour - Pure gold is naturally yellow. Other colours, most notably white, are achieved when gold is mixed (alloyed) with other metals like silver of palladium. Nickel is now no longer used to create white gold as it can be an irritant. Alternative colours are created with other metals. For instance, red or rose coloured gold contains copper and some silver. Although white gold has in recent years been extremely fashionable there is now a resurgence of yellow gold and rose gold is making a particular comeback with some intricate and interesting designs coming on line.
The dos and don'ts are as follows:
© Susannah Chenevix-Trench