Specifically, let's talk science about gold.
As you probably know, gold is a chemical element (number 79 on the periodic table, represented as Au) that is bright yellow in its natural state, uncommon for most metals. Since its melting point is pretty high (nearly 2000° F, over 1000° C), gold is generally a solid when people see it. Throughout history, it has been prized and considered valuable (the gold standard used to be a common monetary policy, remember?) even before recorded history. (Wait a minute... how do we know that? It wasn't recorded! Ahem. Not the point.)
Gold is neither super-rare nor super-common, but it is easy to handle, easy to smelt, non-corrosive, an unusual natural colour, and relatively non-reactive to other elements. All of these qualities lead to people getting all grabby-hands over gold. Also, it's pretty. I mean, have you looked at a chunk of gold recently? Oooh, shiny...
Moving on. The purity of gold is measured in karats (or sometimes carats, but never carrots), with pure gold called 24k. (By the way, a purity karat is not the same as a weight carat, is definitely not the same as a carrot.) Pure 24k gold is very soft, so for jewellery purposes, gold is usually found in an alloy form, which changes some of its qualities, like hardness, malleability, or colour, amongst other things. Generally, copper or other base metals make up the alloy; the more of the base metals, the lower the k rating for the gold. 14k is probably the most common, and is 58% gold.
The most common "coloured golds" are white gold and rose/pink/red gold.
White gold is gold alloyed with a white metal, frequently nickel, manganese, or palladium. Because of the high nickel content that is probably in white gold, it may be a bad choice for people with metal allergies. (If you’re thinking of getting something made in white gold for someone special… check on allergies first!) The palladium alloys are far more expensive, due to the rarity of palladium.
Rose gold, sometimes referred to as Russian gold (an old term that is mostly obsolete but still crops up occasionally), is generally a gold/copper alloy; the more copper in the alloy, the more red the gold will be. Remember, if the k number is the same, that means the amount of gold stays consistent – the composition of the other metals in the alloy will be what changes, with something other than copper being added in to create a softer red colour.
While there are other “coloured golds” out there, they tend either to be less common, far more expensive, or less appropriate for usage in jewellery due to brittleness or other problems.
Recap! Gold is awesome and highly versatile; because of its value, it was used as money and even now commands a high price. The purer the gold, the higher the karat number. Different alloys give gold a different colour and change its properties slightly.
I’ll leave you with one final fun fact: it has been estimated that if you could collect all the gold ever refined and make a cube out if it, the cube would be 66 feet on a side. That’s a whole lot of shiny.
Time to make a blood sacrifice to the lapidary gods, that is!
Every so often, as you may know, the lapidary gods require a... token of your seriousnessitude towards the craft. Otherwise, all your hard work and practice will do you absolutely no good whatsoever - all your rocks will crack, your dop sticks will break, your polishing jobs all orange-peel and don't shine up... it's an absolute nightmare.
That's actually just residue leftover from working on my cobra script jasper, over there on the right. It sure is a pretty stone, but daaaaang is it messy to work it.
(At least it's just messy and not messy AND stinky, which would just be trouble.)
Anyway, there are many stones that grind relatively clean, but then there are also many stones that are just... nasty. It's kind of fun to see what colour the mud at the bottom of my Genie turns into at the end of the day, though...
PS - lapidary gods, if you do exist, you rock, no pun intended. Oh, who am I kidding, it was totally intended. Please don't smite me. :-D
Blue Box Imaginarium is now on both Twitter and Facebook. Exciting, no?
You can find us at http://www.facebook.com/blueboximaginarium or on twitter as @BlueBoxTweets.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot of exciting news here in the Blue Box. We finished up a new piece, which has been posted in the gallery. It's the first time we've tried wrapping together multiple stones; as an experiment, I think it went rather well! We're also trying out custom chain-making - not making the chains themselves, but cutting them down to size and using our own findings and clasps to make them a bit more unique. To that end, we've been sorting massive amounts of jumprings of all sizes. It's a bit mind-numbing, trying to spot the difference between a 3mm 20 gauge jumpring and a 4mm 20 gauge jumpring and a 4mm 22 gauge jumpring, but it's also sort of soothing. (Yeah, I know, we're a bit weird in the Box.) We've got some normal clasps as well as some fun filigree clasps, so it'll be fun once we get everything sorted and ready for chain-making.
Today we received some more opal rough; some of the pieces are absolutely gorgeous. I'm quite excited about getting to work with those. And of course I'm quite excited about sharing the pictures as we go along in the process of cabbing them.
Here's hoping for grey gloomy weather tomorrow so we're not tempted to hit the beach instead of working in the Box!
Today we had a little field trip and attended a Gem Faire show. Although we didn't find any awesome slabs that we could work with, we did pick up something very special...
Ethiopian opals. They're absolutely gorgeous, and the Blogger is practically drooling over getting a chance to work with them. The colour and fire really pop; it looks like any angle is going to be excellent for cutting.
We also picked up some new chains and findings so we can cut our chains to specific lengths - no more wishing our pendant chains were slightly shorter or longer!
We've got a number of projects in the works, so the Blogger will be quite busy and happy for a while. (Assuming we can pry the Blogger's hands off of the opals, that is...)
The Blue Box Blogger sometimes has a strange sense of humour that comes out here rather than the workshop.