Joe’s Special Box – Volume 151

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and A Collector’s Things

Are any of you familiar with 15-karat gold?  In the United States, the standard gold fineness is 10, 14, and 18 karat.  It’s the same in England now… however, that wasn’t always the case.  In the years between 1854 and 1931, jewelers in Britain often used 15-karat gold (usually hallmarked 15ct).  If you have an antique piece of jewelry that is marked in such a way, chances are that it was made in England or the British Isles. 

At least once a week, a customer will ask about the different caratages of gold.   Over the years, I have developed my own answer to the question.  The first thing that I explain is that all gold that comes out of the ground is yellow.  This is pure gold, 24-karat.  Pure gold is very soft, malleable.  Jewelry made from 24-karat gold is very valuable, however, it isn’t practical for daily wear.  

Pure gold is alloyed with other elements to make it more durable.  Imagine that you have a pie that is cut into 24 pieces.  In 14-karat gold, 14 pieces of the pie are gold.  The other ten pieces are alloys such as silver, copper, nickel or zinc.  In 18-karat gold, 18 pieces are gold and the remaining six pieces are alloys.  In 10-karat gold, only ten pieces of the pie are gold, while the remaining fourteen are alloys. 

This illustration easily explains how different caratages of gold are made.  It’s also clear to see why 18-karat is more expensive than 14-karat.  It has more pure gold content.  So, a piece of 15ct jewelry has a higher percentage of gold than a 14kt piece, making it a bit more valuable. 

This necklace from Joe’s Special Box features a crisp “15ct” mark on the back.  Made at the end of the 1800’s, it could be late Victorian or early Art Nouveau.  The fanciful scrollwork offers a light and airy feel to the necklace.  The center pendant has a heart outline.  A luscious emerald cut peridot is held in place by a series of claw-shaped prongs.  A second smaller round peridot is set directly above the first.  The lime green color is fresh, perfect for summer.

Eight bright pink gems further accent the necklace.  Interestingly, three of these pink sparklers are imitation, while the other five are genuine pink tourmaline.  All of the stones are authentic and original to the piece.  I love the three pear-shaped gems…  they dance below the bottom of the piece, swaying with the movement of the body.  

Peridot is an often underrated and overlooked gemstone.  The color is effervescent and inviting.  Peridot is the August birthstone and also the suggested gift for a 16th wedding anniversary.  Here, combined with pretty pink tourmalines and set in 15-karat yellow gold, the combination is enchanting.  Priced at $1,850.00, this Art Nouveau beauty is the ideal accessory for your summer style.

“You can go to a museum and look, or come to us and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Dana Jerpe

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