What's so special about 22k Gold?

22k gold Katy Beh Jewelry New Orleans-1

I became a 22k gold junkie over 30 years ago. Maybe you're like me - dialing down your interest in something until you reach your specific passion? Then you're hooked like white on rice. That's me and gold.

Most of the fine handmade jewelry you see will be 14k or 18k. Me? I use only 22 karat yellow gold in making my jewelry. I'm a classical goldsmith.

There aren’t many of us classical goldsmiths out there, but whoa…are we nuts about it. Nothing else will do.

Why 22k yellow gold?

Rich Yellow in ColorThe makings of my 22k Gold and White Pearl Patricia Necklace, Katy Beh Jewelry, New Orleans

Like butt-ah. Its signature rich yellow color sets it apart from lower karat golds used in mass produced jewelry. Not only that, almost all the jewelry made these days is cast. But not 22k jewelry. It's almost exclusively hand fabricated. How yellow gold is is reflective of it's karat. The lower the karat, the paler the color.

The luster of 22k gold is unmistakable. It shows delicate marks from its maker as will as the time and patina - story if you will - of its wearer.

 


Preservation of a Tradition22k Earrings on my bench, Katy Beh Jewelry, New Orleans

The same classical goldsmithing methods I employ have been used for 5000 years. It's how 22k gold jewelry was first made. Labor intensive and exacting; it demanding patience and discipline. Your value for preserving tradition is like mine.

My techniques are old-school handmade. I don't use wax models or pre-made molds; I hand fabricate everything. All techniques must be mastered and successful as each step is the foundation of the next.

All my jewelry designs are made from the gold wire and sheet I produce in my studio. This as well as hand fabrication is unlike techniques used in factory-made jewelry. It's rarely seen anymore because of the time it takes to produce and the high cost of labor associated with making one piece.

The process is slow but deeply rewarding work. I’m devoted to preserving this ancient craft, even if it limits number of pieces I can make. 


Purity22k gold bezels for my Michelle Bracelet, Katy Beh Jewelry New Orleans

Do you knit? If so, don't you love working with cashmere? Cook?Shop at farmers markets? There's no purer alloy of gold in jewelry than 22k. I blend pure 24k gold with pure silver and copper to create my pieces. My jewelry is all one of a kind (OOAK) and made one at a time.

I'm like you when I'm doing something I love - I lose track of time. Investing priceless hours and joy into something I make with my hands calls for the finest of materials. It's absolutely worth it. 


Creatively challenging 22k gold22k Gold Components of Louise Padparadscha Sapphire Ring, Katy Beh Jewelry, New Orleans

Sometimes restrictions are where genius is born. The role in which the physical properties of 22k gold impact making jewelry cannot be overemphasized. Read more here.

Raw, high-karat gold is malleable. The hammering and forging used while I shape the gold compacts the molecules and makes it dense and strong. However, worked past it's malleability, the gold will flake, crack and eventually break.

This principal varies in proportion with the scale and volume of the gold I use in each design. Finding the sweet spot of flexibility and strength is essential to creating a structurally sound form from supple gold.

For example, the gauge of gold in a wire bangle bracelet must be thicker than the gauge of a ring - the sheer difference in size warrants a heavier stock to keep the circle. But, how much that stock is hammered and work-hardened can also make thinner wire stronger. Hmmmm.

Read my making blog series here.


WeightForging 22k Yellow Gold, Katy Beh Jewelry, New Orleans

Have you ever picked up a brick of pure gold? A standard bar of gold weighs just over 27 pounds. A silver bar is a bit under 7 pounds.

That said, the higher the karat of gold the heavier it is. Also, 22k gold jewelry is often made of thicker components (see above Creative Challenges). The inherent weight and density gained from being hand wrought gives 22k yellow gold jewelry strength and weight.

 


Luxury

Like Charmeuse silk, 22k is the most luxurious alloy of pure gold. Deep yellow in color; heavy on your arm, a dream to work with and exclusive to handmade - often - one of kind precious jewelry. Lavish in value of color, price, time and history. The jewelry we choose to celebrate the milestones in our lives must be as precious as the memories they represent. Combined my passion for tradition and creating, you understand why only 22k will do.

Browse the full Katy Beh collection.

XXO 006 (5)pink

I would love to reset your heirloom gems in a Katy Beh original custom design. Start here.

Or message me here.

Get Katy's Journal in your inbox monthly.