GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS by Hermoine Ford
Gold! Just the word conjures all sorts of images. Gold can be associated with greed, because no matter how much you own, you yearn for more. Perhaps it has something to do with the mesmerizing brightness of the colour, the texture, but always the worth. Easily negotiable if you want to sell, it is suitable as an investment, variable in price, but always easily saleable. People can hoard it, gloat over it, scheme to get it, steal it and have even been known to kill for it. Then it should be known as the devil’s gold, because it can so easily corrupt.
As an antique dealer specializing in antique jewellery, I came across gold in many forms. There were times when people were desperate to sell because of sudden need. At any threat of war, there was always a rush to buy gold as a hedge against uncertainty, also to sell it if in need. In the 1980s, when the Falkland War had started, the price of gold rocketed and there was a queue of people selling. Young girls with babies in pushchairs came in and took off their wedding rings and were happily amazed at the price they received. I had to rush to London to sell because the price could go down rapidly and then I would have made a loss. London dealers also came into the shop buying up all they could see. Beautiful silver items would also be sold to be melted down. It was a strange time and one week I took 65 wedding rings to be scrapped.
Gold is measured in carats, with 24 being pure gold. But pure gold is very soft and unsuitable for jewellery, so in the past it was mixed with brass which adds to its yellow colour or copper to make a ‘rose gold’ colour. There is something about gold that makes you want to own it. Lots of it makes you feel powerful, secure, confident. To adorn yourself with gold makes you feel beautiful, desirable and it has a magical quality of attracting others to you. It also has adverse qualities that bring out the worst in people. Envy and greed are automatic when people know or see you have a store of gold. It is a visible sign of wealth, more than money in the bank. All the personal items of gold we have are old and have been melted down to make our adornments as it is never wasted. Even gold teeth are sent from dentists to be scrapped. Although platinum is worth more than gold, it does not have the same appeal generally. ‘As good as platinum’ does not have the same resonance and no one rhapsodises about this metal.
Gold is a sign of excellence in achievement. Gold cups, gold medals, gold salvers are given to symbolize a win. Gold has provoked many sayings: Good as gold, golden boy, pot of gold, gold nuggets, heart of gold, gold digger….
There is also the aesthetic beauty of gold. The metal has inspired the most wonderful jewellery and ornaments throughout the world, through time immemorial and been written about endlessly and been the inspiration for many films and books.
Gold also has a romance just in the sound of it. For instance, I would say to my husband:-
Gold always reminds me of you
Gold was the sunshine on the day I met you
Gold was the ring you gave me on our wedding day
Golden were the years we spent together
Golden are the memories you left me.