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Gold was one of the first metals worked by man. Gold work can be found as early as 3000 B.C. It has been valued by cultures the world over for its rarity, luster, and ability to resist corrosion. It is a very malleable metal, making it perfect for jewelry.

The purity of gold is measured in karats (K). Pure gold is 24K. However, pure gold is too soft for most uses. Hence it is combined with other metals to achieve a desired hardness. The most common additives are nickel, silver, and copper. The relative amount of gold determines its fineness. 14K (58.3% gold) and 18K (75% gold) are the most common purities found in jewelry.

The relative amounts of alloy metals mixed with gold can change the natural yellow color of gold. Large amounts of silver mixed with gold will make green gold. Large amounts of a copper will produce rose gold (also called pink gold). Both nickel and silver serve as bleaching agents to turn yellow gold white. To enhance the whiteness of white gold, almost all white gold is plated with rhodium. Rhodium is a very tough and shiny metal. Over time this plating will wear off and the jewelry will need to be replated with rhodium. Some white gold is now being alloyed with palladium, a metal similar to platinum in characteristics. This type of white gold does not require rhodium plating.

Keep gold away from harsh chemicals and household cleaning products. Even chlorine (as found in pools) can pit gold alloys, thus weakening it. For best cleaning results use a soft toothbrush and warm, soapy water. Gold is safe for use in an ultrasonic cleaner.