When it comes to gold jewellery and the specifics of gold, how much do you actually know? We spoke to gold jewellery expert Marilyne Kekeli to get the lowdown.
Did you know that just one ounce of gold in the UK is worth £1,266 compared to an ounce of silver which is worth approximately £18? Gold is a timeless and durable investment, which is why it is important to know the facts before you purchase any pieces.
If you’ve ever wondered how to maintain the longevity of your gold to whether you should buy gold-plated, gold-filled or pure gold jewellery, we’ve got you. To get the best advice we spoke to Parisian fashion jeweller Marilyne Kekeli, founder of ethical jewellery brand Mamater who we recently featured.
We asked Marilyne six things every stylish, jewellery-loving woman should know about gold. Read on for her answers…
How do we measure gold and what are the different measurements?
I think the key thing about measuring gold is you have to remember that when you buy a piece of jewellery, for example if you buy a ring, you have to remember that that ring will never be 100 percent gold. Gold is actually very soft material, so it’s very malleable. It would be impossible to make jewellery that would last with pure gold, it’s just impossible. Also, the price of gold is extremely expensive, that’s one of the first things to understand.
Next you have the carat system. The caret system is essentially the one that tells you what percentage of gold is used. If you have yellow gold that’s nine carats, there’s about 37 percent of gold in nine carats, 42 percent of silver and about 20 percent of copper. That would be what you see as a yellow gold ring. The higher you go in terms of carat, the more gold you have, and it’s just as simple as that. For example, if you had a 22-carats gold ring that’s 92 percent of gold, so it’s far more expensive than nine-carats. When it comes to white gold, it’s been rhodium plated, so it’s been plated with rhodium for it to have that shiny appearance. It is also to make it a bit more affordable overall.
“Gold is actually very soft material, so it’s very malleable.”
In terms of what carat to go for, it really is a question for your budget. The lower the carats the more affordable your ring is going to be and the higher the carats the more your ring is going to shine for a very long time. It’s all about durability and costs. If you have an endless budget, I’d suggest you go for 22-carats, if you can afford it. You would definitely have an absolutely stunning piece of jewellery. You would literally have gold in your hands, so you can resell it for a higher cost.
22-carats is the highest carat of gold, because 24-carats which is 100 percent gold is essentially not something you would have. 24 carats is used for gold-plating. For example, gold plated silver rings are what you typically call gold vermeil. Let’s say I make a ring with silver and I plate it with gold, for example 2.5 micron which is quite thick. That would be something you could purchase that would allow you lower the costs because silver is cheaper than gold, and you would still have a very beautiful ring that would last for a very long time. Obviously, the resale value would not be the same.
What’s the difference between gold, gold-filled and gold-plated jewellery?
As explained above, what we typically call gold is a mix of gold with silver, copper and some alloys. The higher the carat the more gold you have in the mix. When it comes to gold-plated, it’s actually what it says on the tin. Most jewellery brands would typically use something like brass and they would plate it with gold, it’s on the lower ends in terms of cost. The degree of plating is what determines whether it is plated or not. Gold-plated has to have at least 0.5 microns, which is the percentage of gold that is placed on top of it. The way you plate gold is through a machine, essentially it works through electrocution. Essentially you make the ring and then you put it in a solution, put the electricity on and plate the gold on top of it.
“Flash-plated is what you would see in fast fashion.”
If 0.5 microns is not used then it isn’t gold-plated it is flash-plated, which is cheaper. With flash-plated if you were to wash your hands three times the gold would start to wear off. If it’s gold-plated it has more durability. If it’s gold vermeil then it’s a silver ring that is plated with a thick layer of gold, so it’s actually very durable.
Gold-filled is the bonding of a structure of gold with sometimes brass and so on. I would typically say gold vermeil is probably most expensive, depending on how thick the plate. It does compete quite neatly with gold-filled as well, because gold-filled is also quite expensive. Flash-plated is what you would see in fast fashion.
What is gold vermeil, and should we avoid it?
Oh no! You should definitely invest in vermeil. I think it’s beautiful, it’s really lovely. It’s a beautiful silver ring or piece of jewellery that is plated and bonded with 2.5 micron of gold, which is actually quite thick. I would say yes absolutely, if you have the budget, you should definitely invest in vermeil. It will last for a very long time and you can keep it for years and years.
The only thing is to obviously be careful with it. With all jewellery you should be careful with what you use with it, so no perfumes, no soaps and anything that can be corrosive to it. If you think about it, plating is applied to a metal, so it can wear off. The more you use your ring or jewellery the more it rubs off. Slowly and slowly the gold can wear off, that’s why investing in more expensive plating like vermeil is actually better for durability because it will last longer. I love vermeil, I actually recommend it.
If it’s gold-plated and it wears over time, that’s when the difference between buying from an actual jeweller who makes jewellery and just buying in a shop is important. If you’re buying from a shop, unfortunately all you can do is just keep on cleaning it. If you’re buying from an actual jeweller, you can ask for it to be re-plated for a fee and then you get your ring back as if nothing had happened before. If it’s vermeil it won’t happen as often, maybe in a decade or so depending on how you use it.
“Put your perfume on your clothes rather than directly on your skin.”
How do we look after our gold jewellery?
Invest in a gold polishing cloth; you can find them on Amazon or online. Just be mindful of not putting perfume on it, you can wear your jewellery after you have sprayed on your perfume. Put your perfume on your clothes rather than directly on your skin, this way it protects from actually touching your jewellery.
Try to avoid lotions or anything touching the jewellery, keep it polished, clean it, put it into boxes or pouches and keeping it safe. If you buy from a jeweller, there’s more opportunity to get it fixed as time goes on.
Will the price of my gold decrease or increase over time?
It all depends on the market price of gold, like with every other commodity, gold has an international market price, which can be checked online. It depends on that and depends on the level of purity of the jewellery you have. The higher the carat, the more expensive the piece will be at resell.
It’s not really to do with time, unless you have a piece of antique jewellery, which would be very old, like 100 or 200 years old. That’s more in the jewellery art sector where people want to invest and buy into very antique jewellery. Otherwise, if you have an engagement ring or wedding ring and so on it would depend on the price of it and the purity of the actual jewellery.
The resellers will know the market price and they will test the purity and give you a price. If you wanted to sell it, you can definitely do that.
“The higher the carat, the more expensive the piece will be at resell.”
My white gold wedding band is turning yellow, what do I do?
If the white gold ring is turning kind of yellow, it’s typically because it’s rhodium-plated and so you would have to essentially go to a jeweller to ask for it to be re-plated fundamentally. If it’s turning yellow, it’s because the gold in the radium is flaking, and the gold is starting to appear. Always make sure you polish it, keep it clean and tidy. Costs of replating depends on the jeweller and on the ring, it also depends on if the ring is just a simple band or if it has stones on it.
If you have stones, they need to be removed and cleaned, re-plated and then the stones need to be put back on. If it’s just a simple ring that needs to be re-plated, I couldn’t give you a price because it really depends on the jeweller, but I would typically say around £200. The more complex your ring, the more work. There are also risks, because the stones could break, so the more expensive it would probably be.
Visit Marilyne Kekeli’s jewellery shop here