And one undeniable fact: The glitter of the precious metal has lured men and women throughout the ages.
Gold is at the root of many a myth, in which it has represented the sun, untold riches and even divinity. A universal status symbol since ancient times, the metal’s beauty, tactility and malleability have long made it the most desirable material in human adornment.
Here, seven things in gold:
This ceremonial collar, the Shannongrove gorget, was discovered in an Irish bog in the 18th century and now is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From the late Bronze Age, it displays sophisticated chasing and embossing techniques.
Worth Its Weight
Sotheby’s will hold the Midas Touch, its first sale dedicated entirely to gold, on Oct. 14 in London. The event will feature Marc Quinn’s “Song of the Siren” (2010), an 18-karat solid gold bust of Kate Moss, weighing a considerable 8,021 grams (17 pounds).
The London-based jeweler Ute Decker demonstrated the sculptural qualities of gold with her Praise of Shadows earrings. She uses only fair-trade gold, which can trace its provenance to small mining operations in countries like Peru and Uganda.
Credit…Gian Paolo Barbieri/Condé Nast, via Getty Images
Jewelry made entirely of gold became fashionable during post-World War II austerity, coinciding with the rise of the strong, independent woman. Here, for a 1969 Vogue photo, Marisa Berenson wore layers of Bulgari gold chains and rings.
Master of Guises
During the 1960s and 1970s the Paris workshop of Georges Lenfant, now led by his son Jacques, created gold bracelets in intricate patterns and textures, like this one now at Hancocks, a London dealer.
All That Glitters
A seemingly infinite array of goldsmithing skills have been developed since the Mesopotamians demonstrated cloisonné, filigree and granulation techniques more than 3,000 years ago. Here, the signature sheen of the Italian jeweler Marco Bicego’s gold work is created using the bulino, a traditional tool that produces a fine, brushed texture.
For the 2004 Athens Games, the Greek jeweler Elena Votsi created an Olympic medal design still used today. Her sculptural jewelry designs, like the ring above, match the current vogue for statement pieces, and polished gold is her material of choice. “It’s like a canvas where I can tell my story,” she said.