If you own and treasure any jewellery you probably have some gold jewellery. 

It would be easy to churn out a load of cliches about the magic and mystery of gold. 

There's some truth to them. The history of gold is a big, interesting subject - and its effect on humanity has been major and not always positive. 

Yellow gold & sapphire circles bracelet by Goldspindel - Christiane Bekk

Gold is all of those things - magical, special, legendary - but it's also beautiful. 

But what does gold mean for you? 

If you have some gold jewellery we recommend you take the time to take a look at it properly when you get a chance. Appreciate just why - beyond its rarity - this metal got the reputation it did. 

And jewellers love gold. It's a wonderful material to work with. 

It's so versatile that there's almost nothing that can't be made from it. 

We hope this guide will make you look at it with fresh eyes. 

Gold jewellery: some facts

Gold is very often not used in its purest form. 

Adding other metals makes it cheaper, but it can also add functionality - making this soft metal harder, for example - so it's not a simple case of "watering it down". 

24 karat gold is pure gold. 

this palm berries cuff by LJD Designs is 18-karat gold

Gold is commonly available in 18 karat (75% pure), 14 karat (58.3%), 10% (41.7%), and 9% (37.5%). 

Pure gold will not tarnish. But it is softer than less-pure alloys and easier to mark or damage. 

Gold is not always gold. 

Coloured golds are made by mixing pure gold with alloys of other metals. It can never be 24 karat for this reason. 

White, yellow, and rose are the commonest coloured golds. 

Stackable handcuff bands by Borgioni in, left to right, rose, white, and yellow gold

While coloured golds can't be 100% pure there is nothing inferior about these mixtures.

Though white gold can fade to yellow over time because it is plated with rhodium.  

It is purely a matter of taste - wear what you like is always our motto. 

Gold plating: for beginners 

Gold is often used as a finish. 

A thin layer of gold over another metal, often brass or silver, is much cheaper. And to most observers it will look just as good as the real thing. 

Heavy gold plate is called vermeill (a regulated term in the USA, but not everywhere). This is the thickest type of gold plating and gives you a 2.5-micron layer of gold over another metal. 

24-karat champagne gold vermeil 8mm Bellezza necklace by Arpaia

Gold plated has a layer of more than 0.5 micron thickness. 

Gold flashed jewellery has a layer of gold less than 0.5 microns. 

Gold jewellery: simple care tips 

Wedding rings are the most common, and most worn items of gold jewellery. 

No-one likes to take them off. 

However, you probably shouldn't wear your ring while doing anything too frenetic or when it will be exposed to chemicals. 

That includes the chlorine in swimming pools and many common domestic cleaning chemicals.  

Skin creams and the like won't cause any serious damage to a ring in most cases, but they will make it look duller. Take it off if you can when you put your handcream on. 

Gardening can be a risk too. Cover your ring up with gloves when your hands are in the muck if you can't take it off. 

Most good jewellers will supply you with a care guide along with your jewellery. Some will send you a quality cleaning cloth too. That's great service. 

Golden beads ring at JewelStreet

This 14-karat gold ring by Master Jewelry by John is beautiful intricate and needs to be cared for

Check those specific guidelines. And don't be afraid to ask for advice if you're not sure. 

Gentle cleansers without detergents - washing up liquid for example - shouldn't damage gold. 

Because it is soft, gold can be marked. It shouldn't be scrubbed with rough brushes or abrasive cleaners like baking soda. 

You can wash gold in warm - not cold - water. Dry it. Then use a lint-free cloth (lint free just means it won't leave fibres behind) to polish it. 

If you're using a sink PUT THE PLUG IN. 

White gold is particularly delicate. Professional cleaning at a local jewellers is always an option. They will use ultrasonic tools to give you a super-safe shine. 

Safe gold jewellery storage

Simply does it is a good motto for keeping your gold jewellery safe. 

Gold is always sought after so you should consider your insurance or secured storage options for very valuable pieces. 

Meteorite earrings by River Heron

The gold Meteorite earrings by River Heron need careful storage

For the pieces you can keep at home accidental damage is the prime problem. 

Store every item of jewellery separately, so it can't bash into anything else. 

Keep it away from chemicals and damp - your bathroom is not a great place for jewellery storage. 

Wearing it as often as possible is a great way to keep it out of storage.  

Part II coming through shows you some great examples of gold jewellery we love. 

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