If you’ve never heard of green gold before, you’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds like what you’d find in a leprechaun’s pot at the end of the rainbow, rather than a real precious metal.
But green is one of the many colours of gold, and it’s a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. It has a greenish hue – almost imperceptible to the untrained eye – that gives it its name.
What is Green Gold?
In its natural form, green gold is slightly more robust than pure gold, meaning it immediately had a use upon its discovery. However, it is rarely occurring outside of certain regions, so, modern smelters often create it artificially and then strengthen it with other metals such as zinc and nickel.
Etymology of ‘Electrum’
Electrum, the old word for green gold, is usually used to refer to the naturally occurring substance. The word is derived from the Greek word ḗlektron – the same root word from which the English ‘electron’ is derived – and is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.
What is the Origin and History of Green Gold?
The history of green gold runs further back than the Odyssey. It has been mentioned in texts dating back to the reign of Pharaoh Sahure of Ancient Egypt. There it was believed to have been used atop the Egyptians’ famous asterisks as well as the Pyramids of Giza.
It was also one of the earliest metals used for coinage. The Lydians, an historical people who resided in what is now Anatolia (modern day Turkey), used the metal as it was less valuable than pure gold, which was harder to refine. Certain sources claim this was one of the oldest examples of currency devaluation which was used to benefit the empire’s overlords, although these claims are disputed. The coins date back to 700BC.
In more recent history, the Nobel Prize has been made of green gold since 1980.
What are the Pros and Cons of Green Gold?
Pros of Green Gold
Green gold is a rare, unique alloy that is incredibly beautiful to behold. When you buy jewellery made of green gold, you’re being brought into a history as old as the pyramids. Green gold can also be used to add interesting accents to intricate jewellery and is often used in pieces inspired by the natural world.
There are also many options to choose from. Green gold comes in at 18K and 14K editions and each composition will give it a different hue. Choosing a unique piece will be easy as there are so many variables you can control.
Cons of Green Gold
However, there are some cons that can come with buying green gold pieces, but only if you’re uninformed. As mentioned earlier, pure electrum is a fairly soft metal, and in order to strengthen it, goldsmiths once used nickel and cadmium. Nickel and cadmium are poisonous metals, and over time, wearing this type of jewellery can be dangerous to your health. Modern jewellers use safer metals such as platinum and palladium which are more expensive but far safer.
Another con, which we will touch on later, is that green gold contains silver. If you’ve ever had silverware in the cupboard for too long, you’ll know how badly it can tarnish. Luckily, green gold is easy to polish.
What are the Different Types of Green Gold?
18K green gold comes in the following shades, depending on their composition:
- Soft Green
Gold: 75% | Silver 25%
- Light Green
Gold (75%) | Copper (23%) | Cadmium (2%)
Gold (75.5%) | Silver (17.25%) | Copper (6.25%) | Zinc (1%)
Gold (75%) | Silver (20%) | Copper (5%)
Gold (75%) | Silver (20.75%) | Copper (3%) | Zinc (0.75%)
Gold (75.5%) | Silver (18%) | Copper (5.5%) | Zinc (1%)
- Deep Green
Gold (75%) | Silver (15%) | Copper (6%) | Cadmium (4%)
Gold (75.5%) | Silver (18.25%) | Copper (6.25%)
14K Versions also come in different shades:
- Quintessential Green
Gold (58.5%) | Silver (35%) | Copper (6.25%) | Zinc (0.25%)
Gold (58.5%) | Silver (21.75%) | Copper (18.7%) | Zinc (1.05%)
- Rich Green
Gold (58.5%) | Silver (36%) | Copper (5.25%) | Zinc (0.25%)
- Light Green
Gold (58.5%) | Silver (29.25%) | Copper (11.25%) | Zinc (1%)
- Yellow Green
Gold (58.5%) | Silver (12%) | Copper (22.25%) | Zinc (7.25%)
Is Green Gold Expensive Or Valuable?
Green gold’s price can be determined by a number of factors including purity, the cost of the alloys involved in its production and the history, size and complexity of a piece.
Due to its relative rarity, some green golds will be more expensive, but affordable options are also possible. Some jewellers opt to plate other metals with green gold, making the piece more affordable. However, plating with a soft metal can be dangerous as it will wear over time.
Its scarcity does give it a perceived value, however, and any piece made of green gold is sure to turn heads.
What Does Green Gold Jewellery Symbolise or Say About You?
Green gold is an unusual choice for an unusual person. It offers a unique twist for something like a golden wedding anniversary gift for those who are less traditional or want something truly unique. There’s something almost magical in the green hue present in the metal that’ll add a sense of mystery, history and intrigue to anyone’s style.
It’s also a metal layered in mythology. Wearing a metal once mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, that once capped the pyramids, is a statement to be sure. And a statement that reveals the owner’s fascination with a past eclipsed by time and fable.
What are Some Popular Jewellery Styles for Green Gold?
Green gold is used by watchmakers to add a sense of timelessness to their timepieces. It’s also a feature in a wide range of jewellery from statement necklaces to delicate earrings.
How to Clean Green Gold
Green gold can tarnish, but using a mixture of dishwashing liquid and vinegar you can clean it in no time. Here’s how to clean gold:
- Pour a bowl of warm water and add a few drops of green dishwashing soap
- Leave the jewellery to soak for a few minutes before gently washing.
- Dap a microfibre cloth in some vinegar and gently polish the metal
- Rinse and dry once more
How Popular is Green Gold in the US and in Other Parts of the World?
Green gold isn’t as popular as other metals due to its scarcity, but this is all the more reason to choose it as a unique and special metal.
Jump To a Section Below
- What is Green Gold?
- Etymology of ‘Electrum’
- What is the Origin and History of Green Gold?
- What are the Pros and Cons of Green Gold?
- What are the Different Types of Green Gold?
- Is Green Gold Expensive Or Valuable?
- What Does Green Gold Jewellery Symbolise or Say About You?
- What are Some Popular Jewellery Styles for Green Gold?
- How to Clean Green Gold
- How Popular is Green Gold in the US and in Other Parts of the World?