Celtic Jewelry, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions, Jewelry Care

Brief History of Gold Jewelry

Gold and gold jewelry has been a treasured commodity throughout ancient history. The first historical evidence of gold jewelry in a society occurred in ancient Egypt around 3,000 B.C. Gold was a highly valued metal that was easy to work with in its purest form. Gold was treasured in Egyptian mythology. Gold and gold jewelry was highly valued by pharaohs and Egyptian temple priests. So important, and highly treasured that the capstones on the Pyramids of Giza were made of solid gold.

Ancient Greeks and Gold

Later on in ancient history, the Greeks saw gold as a symbol of social status and as a form of glory amongst the immortal gods and demigods. The average Greek used gold to reflect wealth wealth and as currency.

Gold Fun Fact

The Olympics tradition of giving gold medals to the victors began during the modern Olympics and actually has very little to do with ancient Greek tradition.

Celtic Gold Jewelry History and Origins

From what historians can discern the Celts began working with gold in the early bronze age. They started working in sheet gold, creating sundiscs and crescentic gold collars called lunulae.

Around 1200 BC new gold working techniques were developed. During this time a great variety of torcs including torc bracelets were made by twisting bars or strips of gold.

It is believed around 1200 BC the Celts began to develop new gold working techniques. It is thought that during this time many of the Celtic torcs discovered were made by simply twisting bars of pure gold or strips of pure gold.

Around 900 BC – the Late Bronze Age – and the Celtic jewelry metal work of this period consisted of two main types. Celtic Jewelry pieces including Celtic bracelets and Celtic brooches used as fasten their cloaks, in dramatic contrast to previous sheet gold collars and ear-spools.

What is Pure Gold?

According to the World Gold Council “‘Caratage’ is the measurement of purity of gold alloyed with other metals. 24 carat is pure gold with no other metals. Lower caratages contain less gold; 18 carat gold contains 75 per cent gold and 25 per cent other metals, often copper or silver.”

What is Karat Gold?

Karat Gold refers to a standardized industry unit of measurement regarding the percentages of metal alloy added to pure to to either strengthen it, decrease gold caratage to reduce costs or change it’s color.

Celtic Jewelry, Irish Jewelry, Jewelry Care

What Does Gold Karat Mean?

What is Karat Gold?

Karat Gold refers to a standardized industry unit of measurement regarding the percentages of metal alloy added to pure to to either strengthen it, decrease gold caratage to reduce costs or change it’s color.

This World Gold Council chart shows some examples of the composition of various caratages of gold.

 CaratageGold(Au)Silver (Ag) Copper (Cu)Zinc (Zn)Palladium (Pd) 
Yellow Gold9k37.5%42.50%20%  
Yellow Gold10k41.70%52%6.30%  
Yellow Gold14k58.30%30%11.70%  
Yellow Gold18k75%15%10%  
Yellow Gold22k91.70%5%2%1.30% 
White Gold9k37.5%62.5%   
White Gold10k41.7%47.4% 0.9%10%
White Gold14k58.30%32.20%  9.50%
White Gold18k75%   25% (or Pt)
White Gold22kN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Rose Gold9k37.5%20%42.5%  
Rose Gold10k41.70%20%38.3%  
Rose Gold14k58.30%9.2%32.5%  
Rose Gold18k75%9.2%22.2%  
Rose Gold22k91.7% 8.40%  

Notes:

White gold compositions listed here are nickel free. Nickel-containing white gold alloys form a small/very small percentage of white gold alloys and generally contain other base metals such as copper and zinc.

The following are the common standards of fineness that are used:

.375 = 9 carat (England and Canada)

.417 = 10 carat

.583 (.585) = 14 carat

.750 = 18 carat

.833 = 20 carat (Asia)

.999 (1000) = 24 carat pure gold

What are Rose Gold rings?

Rose gold wedding rings are a beautiful color of gold often seen in Victorian pieces and has become popular in wedding rings today. Rose gold rings contains Yellow Gold, but with a higher or larger percentage of Copper as the added alloy to give it its pink gold or “rose” color.

What about White Gold?

To make white gold rings, or jewelry, pure gold is combined with higher or larger percentages of white metal alloys like silver, nickel & palladium. To make white gold rings or silver rings have a whiter or brighter white it is often plated in rhodium.

Pure Gold is yellow and even when combined with white metal alloys it still can appear very yellow in color therefore the white gold wedding rings like sterling silver wedding rings are plated with a very bright white metal called rhodium.

Caring for your Gold jewelry

To keep gold wedding rings and gold jewelry shiny, you should clean your Celtic jewelry regularly with a solution of 10-parts warm water and 2-parts dish soap. The favorite dish soap of jewelers for jewelry is Dawn.

In regard to white gold and sterling silver Celtic jewelry it is important to remember that Rhodium-plate eventually wears off over time and normal wear revealing the true color of the metal beneath and allowing for tarnishing. How long will it take for the plating to wear off is unknown and depends on how well the jewelry is cared for. However remember that rhodium-plating is replaceable and can be re-done by your local jeweler, and is relatively inexpensive.

Irish Jewelry, Jewelry Care

Why Sterling Silver May Turn Your Finger Green

If a person has a natural high acidity level in his/her skin, it is possible for his/her finger to “turn green” from silver or gold jewelry, or for silver jewelry to blacken especially when the weather is hot and humid. The green is actually caused by oxidation, and all silver will oxidize (it’s also what gives silver a tarnished look). There are some costume jewelry items that cause the same effect. Most of them contain nickel. It’s not poisonous in small quantities but it can provoke a reaction in people allergic to nickel. This “green finger effect” and the tarnishing of silver may also be an allergic reaction to alloy elements in sterling silver or gold. In some cases, the alloys, used to make jewelry more durable, may react with your body chemistry, chemicals in the air and household chemicals such as soap, salt and sun tan lotion causing a harmless green or black discoloration on the skin, which can be easily removed with soap and water, silver cleaner or with a polish cloth. For this reason, most retail silver jewelry and white gold jewelry is plated with rhodium, which serves as a defensive layer and prevents this reaction from happening to anyone with allergy.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver jewelry is usually made of a precious metal mixed with a metal alloy. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver, with the remaining 7.5% made up of other metals. Common metal alloys include nickel and copper to strengthen the silver since it is soft. Metal alloys can cause an allergic reaction, causing a black or green ring to form around the finger. The acid in your skin can also cause a reaction with some metals, which can result in discoloration. Most sterling jewelry pieces are plated with rhodium that prevent tarnishing and green figure but it can wear off eventually.

How to prevent discoloration from silver jewelry?

Generally harmless and basic household chemicals, alloys, and acid should not keep you from wearing your rings. There are many things you can do to prevent the dreaded green or black finger stain. Remove your rings before swimming in swimming pools or hot tubs. Chlorine is a chemical. Avoid wearing your rings when handling any household cleaning products they are chemicals. Even hair spray, perfume and sun tan lotion are simple chemicals that can react with your jewelry and its finish. It a good idea to also remove your rings at night and clean them regularly. If these tips aren’t enough to prevent your rings from leaving a stain on your finger, consider taking your rings or chains to your local jeweler to have it coated or re-coated with rhodium on the inside to prevent a reaction. Your local jeweler can coat your jewelry usually fast and for an affordable amount.

Jewelry Care

Cleaning Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

Claddagh Trinity Knot Rings by The Irish Jewelry Company

Sterling silver is a commonly used precious metal for jewelry for its affordability and for it is lustrous color, versatility, and durability. Sterling silver is commonly used in Irish Jewelry like claddagh rings. But beautiful sterling silver jewelry requires good care or it could tarnish, losing its shine and luster.

Sterling silver is silver that has been combined with other metals. If a jewelry item is made of sterling silver, it means that it typically contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Hence the popular term when referring to sterling silver jewelry as 925. Other metals like nickel and copper are combined with silver to make it stronger but it also means it will tarnish.

Tarnish is corrosion that develops over sterling silver jewelry, causing an item to discolor and lose its shine. It typically occurs when the sterling silver reacts with the hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere. This is why silver is often recommended to be store in a sealed bag. Regularly wearing and cleaning your sterling silver jewelry helps to deter tarnish.

Cleaning your sterling silver with a mild dish washing detergent is important. It is the first cleaning method you should do before trying other complex silver cleaning methods.

Cleaning Sterling Silver

To get started, fill a medium-sized bowl or basin with warm water and add about 6 drops of mild dish washing liquid. Next, dip a soft brush into the solution and gently scrub the silver item with it.

Cleaning Plated or Rhodium Plated Silver Jewelry

In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup of a mild liquid detergent with 1 cup of warm water. Then, soak your rhodium-plated items in the solution. Leave the items in the soapy water for about 10 minutes, but don’t let the jewelry sit any longer than 15 minutes. The extra time could cause damage.

If this method doesn’t achieve the desired result a professional cleaning and or refinishing at your local jewelry store might be necessary from time to time.

Jewelry Care

Summer Jewelry Care Tips

Panorama of mother and daughter with bike on a beach at sunset

Summer weather and all that comes with the excitement of the season can be very hard on jewelry of all kinds. Protecting your jewelry from the harsh summer elements and outdoor activities are every important part of your jewelry care routine. So as your pack up for your summer vacation or plan on that summer hike or even taking a trip to the beach, you should learn the best ways to care for your jewelry this summer in order to maintain its beauty! 

5 Tips on Maintaining Your Jewelry All Summer

  1. Consider the activity your are about to participate in when wearing jewelry. Will your jewelry make impact against hard surfaces when doing activities such as summer sports like hiking, rafting, climbing or biking can damage your jewelry by scratching the surface and dulling the finish. Be sure to remove any rings, bracelets or necklaces and store safety before embarking on your next active adventure! 

2. Hot temperature and high humidity can have an effect on the finish and look of your jewelry. Be sure to clean and wipe down your jewelry after wearing to keep sweat, humidity, and sunlight from dulling its sheen.

3. When gearing up for a fun day at the beach, remember that some types of jewelry may be better off left at home. Harder gemstones like diamonds and rubies can better withstand impact with sand and abrasive materials like salt, while softer gemstones like amethysts and opal might not fare as well. Also remember that sun tan lotion is a chemical and can also dull the finish of your jewelry.

4. Remember you can easily lose your jewelry while hiking or at the beach or even at a water park. Cold water can cause your hands to shrink making it easy for a ring to slip off. You might want to consider removing your claddagh ring before going in a pool, ocean, lake, or any water to avoid losing them! 

5. If your diamond, gemstone, or precious metal jewelry has had prolonged exposure to chemicals like chlorine or sunscreen, it is best to clean your jewelry daily to protect your favorite jewelry pieces from appearing dull or even tarnishing.  You might want to consider a professional cleaning after the summer.

Celtic Jewelry, Irish Jewelry, Jewelry Care

The Average Ring Size for Men & Women

Consumers often asked what is the average, or normal ring size for a woman? I guess this is because men most often are the purchasers of rings for their partners. Especially when purchasing engagement rings and Celtic wedding band sets. Typically your engagement and wedding rings will likely become your most frequently worn rings your life, so getting the right fit is paramount. Jewelers may see a huge diversity of sizes in orders from customers around the world. However typically in the US that the average ring size for women is Size 7 and the average ring size for men is Size 10.

Closeup of woman checking ring size of female hand in jewelry shop. Woman trying a ring size gauge on her client’s ring finger.

Average Ring Size for Men is a Size 10

“In my years of experience designing jewelry I find most common men’s ring sizes will vary from 9 to 12 but hover closer to size 10 the average ring size for men. ” says Jennifer Derrig, the founder and designer of Celtic Wedding Band Collection by The Irish Jewelry Company. Size 10 is what she stocks as the average “stock” size for men. Men’s wedding rings tend to be wider then women’s around 5mm to 8mm on average. Therefore, when purchasing a wider wedding band like a mens wedding ring sometimes the customer will need a larger size to enable them to easily get the ring on and off each day.

Average Ring size for Women is a Size 7

The average size ring for a woman is a size seven. “Depending on customers lifestyle, and life experiences I personally find that most women tend to fluctuate in weight, and ring size. Fingers can also swell in warm weather so keep that in mind when sizing your finger.” I always recommend taking your favorite ring with you to the jeweler so they determine your size, proportions and the comfort and fit you are looking for Celtic wedding bands or Claddagh engagement ring. And remember a wider band will always fit a little tighter and snugger. 

Can You Guess a Ring Size by Height or Weight?

Unfortunately, no, not really. Hands just like people vary in shape and size and in different climates. Even your own ring size can even fluctuate depending on what hand you measure, the temperature outside, the time of day etc. And then there is is the obvious cause of ring size fluctuation lose or gain of weight! It is helpful to know what the average ring size you wear is when sizing for yourself.

Ring Size Chart : International Ring Size Conversation Chart

ring size conversion chart for International ring size

Other Factors to Consider when Determining a Ring Size

The overall shape of the ring figure is is a big factor to consider. The shape of a finger plays a critical role in choosing a ring size and it is even important when factoring the size and the shape of your diamond for engagement rings. When sizing, it is crucial to size your ring based on your knuckle size. Basically if you have large knuckles, you’ll need a ring to comfortably slide over your knuckle without any issue and be snug enough that it never falls off during normal wear. For long, slender fingers, a wider wedding band might ensure that you have a snug-fitting ring.

Printable Ring Sizer

ringer sizer