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15-Jul-2016 23:28 by 9 Comments

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Gold is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.Tutankhamun's funeral mask is one of the most iconic gold pieces known.

Gold workers from Mesopotamia (known now as Iraq) made one of the earliest known pieces of gold jewellery in about 2600 BC.Gold is usually alloyed in jewellery to give it more strength, and the term carat describes the amount of gold present (24 carats is pure gold).It is estimated that all the gold in the world, so far refined, could be placed in a single cube 60 ft. It is metallic, with a yellow colour when in a mass, but when finely divided it may be black, ruby, or purple.Addition of some copper gives "rose gold", a soft pink colour.Remarkably other colours such as purple (a gold:aluminium alloy), blue (a gold:indium alloy) and even black (a gold:cobalt alloy) may be formed.Gold Assay It is critical from the public's perspective that there is confidence in the claimed purity of any particular item made from precious metals.

This confidence is provided by an 'assay' (test and assess) of the precious metal content of that item.

While there are assay offices in the USA, there is no hallmarking scheme.

Cartoon by Nick D Kim ([Science and Ink], used by permission).

It is impossible to tell the precious metal content of any item simply by looking at it.

Precious metals such as old, silver, and platinum are too soft to use alone for making jewellery, cutlery and other goods.

It also safeguards responsible manufacturers by providing an independent assessment of quality and content that in which the public has confidence.