The ultimate guide to premium gold jewellery
It goes without saying that fine gold is one of the best investments you can choose when it comes to buying jewellery. Gold has a unique and enduring appeal that makes it one of the most desirable metals to own. It has a powerful presence which oozes effortless luxury and commands attention when it is worn.
Gold has been sought out for its beauty and status since long before records began. Its mesmerising lustre and colour is simply unbeatable for jewellery making, and because gold is one of the least reactive metals in the world, it keeps its good looks for generations without tarnishing or oxidising.
Gold in its pure form is too soft and malleable to be wearable as everyday jewellery so it is usually mixed with other metals to give it strength. Highly pure gold is a rich yellow, but different alloys are often used to give gold another hue. White gold is created by mixing pure molten gold with nickel, palladium and zinc to give it a gleaming white finish which very closely resembles platinum, though it is slightly less white. When placed next to silver, the clear and bright colour of 18k white gold completely outshines it, and it also has the benefit of being untarnishable.
Rose or pink gold is a much warmer shade of gold than white and is loved for its soft look. Copper gives rose gold its romantic, pinkish hue which is gorgeous on warm and cool skin tones alike. There can be a lot of variation in the tone of pink gold, and we prefer ours to have a stronger yellow or green tint for an unexpected yet sophisticated look. As with yellow and white gold, pink gold doesn’t tarnish, though it can sometimes oxidise to a slightly darker tone over the years. This is due to the way the copper content reacts with the wearer’s unique skin pH. If you are wondering how to care for fine gold jewellery, you can also check our jewellery care guide.
One of the most unusual forms of gold you will find is black gold. This striking and unexpected shade of gold is edgy, modern, and über-chic and is made by coating the surface of 18k white gold with a layer of rhodium. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family and is the most expensive precious metal you can buy. While black gold jewellery is quite rare it’s quickly gaining popularity in fashion circles.
What makes gold jewellery so desirable?
Jewellery has played an important part in how we express ourselves for thousands of years, either through wearing it or designing it. At AS29 we love to explore shape, form and colour to create stunning pieces which are full of personality and power. We specialise in 18k white gold and yellow gold, but also work with rare and unusual black gold to craft wearable experiences for the modern woman.
Gold has long been the favourite metal of jewellers and jewellery lovers for many reasons aside from its ability to endure. It is very easy to work with so it can be used to create intricate and detailed pieces, though minimalist styles are also perfect for showing the natural beauty of gold.
From a psychological perspective, gold jewellery makes us feel optimistic, positive, and powerful. It helps us to project our inner self and create a look that aligns with our personality. Highly charismatic and opulent, the right gold jewellery with the right outfit makes us feel unstoppable and confident, ready to take on anything life throws our way.
What is 18k gold
The unit used to describe the purity of gold is the karat; the higher the karatage, the more pure the gold. The karat grading system describes how many parts of gold are in any given 24 parts of a piece of gold jewellery. While golds of different karatage can be difficult to spot for the untrained eye, there are some key differences between gold of varying purity.
As gold is graded out of 24, 24k gold is essentially pure gold. If you were to melt down a piece of 24k gold jewellery and look at 24 random atoms, all 24 of them will be gold. While most pure gold does have some traces of other metals or compounds it is 99.99% pure and as such it has a very bright, warm yellow shade. This is as pure as gold can be, and while it is beautiful it is very soft and can easily be bent out of shape. As such, it is very rare to see 24k gold jewellery for everyday wear.
In 22k gold, 22 parts are gold and 2 are another trace element such as nickel or zinc to form an alloy. The inclusion of other metals makes 22k gold stronger than pure gold, though it is still very malleable so doesn’t lend itself well to stone settings and it is too soft to support a diamond or other stone.
Our preferred level of gold purity, 18k gold strikes the perfect balance between strength and beauty. As 18 parts are gold and 4 are another metal, it is durable enough to be worn every day while benefiting from the gorgeous, bright looks of highly pure gold. This is the ideal type of gold for jewellery making and creates sturdy settings for natural diamonds, emeralds and sapphires.
There are 14 gold parts out of 24 in 14k gold, making it very tough indeed. It is a good choice for jewellery making, but it is ever so slightly less bright than gold jewellery of a higher purity. This is a popular option for very lightweight jewellery which can be prone to bending such as very thin rings and post earrings.
9k gold is one of the most affordable types of gold for jewellery, but its affordability comes at the cost of its colour. 9k gold contains around 37% pure gold so it’s not as bright as gold which is 18k or purer. As it is less opulent than other golds it tends to be used with more affordable stones and lower quality diamonds.
Why do we use 18k gold?
As you can see, 18k gold gives you all the gleaming beauty of high-purity gold but is much better for everyday wear because it is less likely to be damaged or scratched than pure gold. Our luxury jewellery is made to last and using gold which is slightly less than completely pure means you will be able to enjoy your jewellery for a lifetime and beyond.
Jewellery which is made from gold in any purity of 9k or above will carry a telltale assay mark describing its purity and origin. Authentic gold jewellery will always carry these marks, and the one to look out for with gold is a rectangle with the corners shaved off which will have a number engraved inside it denoting the purity.
What other kinds of gold jewellery are there?
You may have seen jewellery which is described as gold vermeil, plated or filled and found yourself wondering how these pieces vary from 14k or 18k gold. Sometimes these three terms are used interchangeably but there are definite differences between them which are important to understand when comparing them to 14k or 18k gold.
Vermeil jewellery is made from sterling silver which has had a fine layer of gold applied, usually through electroplating. In order to qualify as gold vermeil and meet jewellery standards in the USA, the gold must be at least 2.5 microns thick - though it is usually 5 to 10 microns thick - or the silver must be clad in 10k gold or higher. When worn regularly, gold vermeil jewellery will begin to lose its gold coating and can start to tarnish as the silver underneath gets closer to the surface.
Gold plating differs from vermeil in that the layer of gold applied to the surface is usually thinner. Rather than a base of sterling silver, gold plated jewellery can be made by plating brass, copper, and other low-grade metals. Plated pieces are usually cheaper than gold vermeil and tend to wear out more quickly.
Gold filled jewellery differs from plated and vermeil pieces in that it usually has a much thicker layer of gold which is applied to a low-grade base metal such as brass. Though the base metal is cheap, the thicker layer of gold can make it more long lasting than some vermeil or plated jewellery. If you are looking for longevity from your jewellery then these three types are best avoided. This is especially true if you prefer jewellery such as AS29’s beautifully curated collections which can be enjoyed many times over the years without losing any of its natural glamour.
When it comes to jewellery, there are people who prefer gold, those who like silver, and those who can't have enough of both. If you're wondering whether white gold is a better alternative to silver, have a look at our silver jewellery guide.