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Old Gold - is it better?

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pyramid

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I have heard people say that 'old' gold looks better or is better or is 'worth more'. Is this true and what is it they are talking about, is it different alloys used back then or the tarnish on it or what, I am assuming the gold is just the same as all gold is old when it comes from the earth? Maybe it is a British thing? I know antique second hand is usually cheaper so is not worth more unless unusually well made high carat gold pieces.

Anyone else heard people speak about 'old' gold or know what they were meaning?
Maybe it is that run of the mill pieces had more attention in craftmanship or were thicker due to new pieces being made lighter to keep prices down.
 

chrono

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My mother insists that "old" gold is better too. I''m not sure why because high kt gold is high kt gold. Maybe it''s the alloys used? Maybe it''s the design of the pieces?
 

pyramid

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Yes, thank you Chrono, I have heard it a few times. My mother says it and then at the office one day a colleague had on a gold bangle which had belonged to her grandmother and was nearly 100 years old. This bangle was 9 carat gold which is usual in the UK for jewellery but not engagement rings, and another colleague said oh yes old gold is better and I thought what is better about it. I asked why was old gold better but they just said it was, then one said the gold was better quality then. Well I thought the gold is just the same gold. So it was not high carat gold they were talking about.
 

AGBF

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Date:
3/21/2009 11:30:02 AM
Author: Chrono

My mother insists that 'old' gold is better too. I'm not sure why because high kt gold is high kt gold. Maybe it's the alloys used?
Well, when you use the term, "high karat gold" you are covering a good bit of territory. Some people might consider 18K gold to be "high karat", although I do not think that most Pricescope members would. That is the traditional purity for gold jewelry in Italy, for example. I think that most people would consider that "high karat gold" is a term that describes gold of somewhere between 19K and 24K.

As I am sure you know, there are parts of the world (for instance, China) where gold jewelry must be made of 24K gold or it is considered costume jewelry!

Once we are discussing 24K gold, there is no alloy. Nothing is mixed with the gold. So the gold of 500 years ago and the gold of today should be exactly the same chemically. Gold is an element, after all. If it is unmixed, it should always have the same chemical composition.
Alloys are another matter.

AGBF
 

diamondringlover

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Not sure, but I do know that my father in laws wedding band from the 50''s looks more dull and sorta scratched then a more modern band does, it is 14K yellow gold, it is still gold but it is not very shiney, so maybe old yellow gold gets patina?? not sure, but I some rings that are 14K YG that are 20 years old and they dont look that way at all, so there must be something to all that...
 

ma re

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It''s a myth, known here as well (Croatia). People think that antique pieces are better crafted as almost everything in those days was done by hand. And we all know a myth that a handmade piece is always better than a mass produced one. There was no mass production back then, so people could''ve payed a lot more attention to quality. But of course, no one can guarantee that they actually did.
 

oldmancoyote

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Any metal will patinate over time. And the basic methods for determining metal purity (karatage) have been the same for literally hundreds of years, so the amount of gold in a 9k (or 14, or 18, or...) alloy will be largely the same independent of age. However:

1. Some alloys are no longer made due to cost or safety reasons (e.g. small amounts of arsenic in some old pink gold). This may give slightly different properties which some people could call "better"

2. The ratio between labour and material cost has changed over time - now labour is way more expensive, and some detailing particularly on cheaper pieces becomes unviable unless it can be mechanised.
 

chrono

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Date: 3/21/2009 11:52:42 AM
Author: AGBF








Date:
3/21/2009 11:30:02 AM
Author: Chrono

My mother insists that ''old'' gold is better too. I''m not sure why because high kt gold is high kt gold. Maybe it''s the alloys used?
Well, when you use the term, ''high karat gold'' you are covering a good bit of territory. Some people might consider 18K gold to be ''high karat'', although I do not think that most Pricescope members would. That is the traditional purity for gold jewelry in Italy, for example. I think that most people would consider that ''high karat gold'' is a term that describes gold of somewhere between 19K and 24K.

As I am sure you know, there are parts of the world (for instance, China) where gold jewelry must be made of 24K gold or it is considered costume jewelry!

Once we are discussing 24K gold, there is no alloy. Nothing is mixed with the gold. So the gold of 500 years ago and the gold of today should be exactly the same chemically. Gold is an element, after all. If it is unmixed, it should always have the same chemical composition.
Alloys are another matter.

AGBF
I''m talking about 22 kt and 24 kt gold, which doesn''t make any sense to me.
 

jewelerman

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Date: 3/21/2009 11:28:23 AM
Author:Pyramid
I have heard people say that ''old'' gold looks better or is better or is ''worth more''. Is this true and what is it they are talking about, is it different alloys used back then or the tarnish on it or what, I am assuming the gold is just the same as all gold is old when it comes from the earth? Maybe it is a British thing? I know antique second hand is usually cheaper so is not worth more unless unusually well made high carat gold pieces.

Anyone else heard people speak about ''old'' gold or know what they were meaning?
Maybe it is that run of the mill pieces had more attention in craftmanship or were thicker due to new pieces being made lighter to keep prices down.
I think that the term old gold is connected with the romantic notion that all old things are better made and better quailty then modern/machine made counterparts.I will agree that even the lower end jewelry of yester year is better made then todays jewelry.Also think about the fact that most jewelry until 1981 jewelry wasnt plumb gold and the karatage was below the actual purity hallmarked on the piece.Example...a piece stamped 14 karat was actually 13 or 13.5 karat gold.
 

pyramid

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Thank you all for your insight, I never knew about arsenic being used in alloying gold!!!!

Jewelerman, do you know if that plumb gold history is the same here in the UK, as I know hallmarking has been very important here?
 

oldmancoyote

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The UK hallmark is an indipendent guarantee system (like in France) - so the content of gold in the piece is at least as high as the hallmarks imply, with a very narrow tolerance downwards. That is - provided it hasn''t been tampered with (though as far as I know in the UK this is much more likely with silver than with gold objects).

The US marking system is self-certification based, and until 1981 had greater leeway.
 

ajourklaus

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Hi Pyramid,

I hear it all the time from my customers. In my opinion it has a great deal to do with sentiments, like so very often when it comes to jewelry. “Old family pieces” many times have a very high perceived value by family members.

Gold is at the end of the day just what it means, gold.

Having said that, most of the times gold is worked in the form of an alloy (metal mixture). This allows the goldsmith to manipulate the color, hardness and also value of the gold.

As mentioned in the thread Asian cultures like to use the gold in its pure form. A Cambodian goldsmith friend of mine told me the main reason for that is that pure gold is very often used as payment. When gold is pure the value is clear and fast, in alloys the value determination is a little more complicated.

Now back to the old gold. Different countries use different alloys, with more or less pure gold content.
A nice example is the following. I work in an area with a large Portuguese immigrant population. They often talk about Portuguese gold. “The good Old Portuguese gold”.

When I used to work in Milan, Italy we used to make jewelry destined for Portugal. The alloy we used was a 20 Karat alloy; we used to stamp it “833” which stands for the pure gold content per mill. We had to be very careful not to mix up the gold stock with the regular 18Karat 750/000 gold stock destined for the rest of Europe.
High end gold jewelry in all of Europe is in general done in an 18K alloy. I think with the European Union even Portugal is going along. England as one would imagine does still its own thing as far as I know.

Here in the US 14K 585/000 is standard. High end manufacturers and goldsmith- designers as myself use mostly 18K alloys in addition with Platinum and Palladium.

Now the question: Which is the better gold?

If better is defined with”most valuable” then the higher gold content alloys are better.

One has to be careful though with the alloys. Certain alloys lend themselves better to certain jobs than others. There is no better or perfect alloy, depends what you are creating.

Bottom line: at the end of the day, gold is gold, is gold, is gold. :) (old or new!!)
 

pyramid

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ajourklaus

Thank you for your interesting reply, I never thought about 'perceived value' of heirlooms. Also worthy that you have let us know that different alloys are better for different projects.
 
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