Gold jewelry has been worn throughout the ages by rulers and aristocrats and has always been a symbol of power and wealth. Iconic pieces of jewelry such as Cleopatra’s massive collars and headdresses, Jacqueline Onassis’s pair of hammered gold cuffs designed by Van Cleef & Arpels, and the famous Faberge eggs, to name a few, would not have been nearly as memorable had they been made of anything other than gold.
These days, the phrase “worth its weight in gold” has taken on a new meaning with the price of gold at an all time high. The price soared to over $1500 an ounce in April, 2011. As you can probably imagine, this phenomenon has greatly affected the jewelry industry. Look at the actor Mr. T: his signature look has always been layers upon layers of gold chains. Recently, I saw a photograph of him wearing just three thin gold rope chains around his neck.
With the price of gold so high, designers today are finding that they have to be exceedingly creative with their designs. They can no longer rely on selling a pair of plain gold earrings—the price to manufacture them is simply too high. Therefore, many designers are incorporating less expensive metals into their works such as silver, brass and steel, and using gold as an accent instead of the main focus. It is not as easy as it once was to buy new gold jewelry.
Sadly, because of the high price of gold, many fine pieces of antique gold jewelry have been sold to refineries and melted down. With each piece of gold jewelry that is lost, the ones that remain become more valuable. An estate or antique jewelry auction is one of the few places nowadays where you can find and purchase a beautiful piece of gold jewelry.
Several fine pieces featured in our upcoming Jewelry auction on June 14th, 2011 include an 18kt Gold and Diamond Necklace by Cartier and an 18kt and 24kt Gold Necklace by Alexandra Watkins, Janiye, c. 1980s. If a jeweler created these necklaces today, it would be incredibly expensive due to the price of gold.
What is your favorite piece of gold jewelry and what makes it memorable?
It’s amazing that gold sells for $1500 an ounce. I have a necklace that my ex-wife left behind that I’m definitely going to sell. I guess I should go weigh it first.