Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



The 'Golden' Years

December 22, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 51

I READ the Newscripts item "Golden Years" regarding the loss of weight and value of gold jewelry over time with great interest (C&EN, Oct. 13, page 56). I am a retired chemist, and I recalled that through the years I had occasionally weighed my wedding ring when using an analytical balance and recorded the results in a personal notebook. I guess we chemists are just curious sorts; fortunately, I was able to retrieve these numbers even after so many years.

I had recorded nine weights from March 29, 1963, through May 16, 1979, a time span of 16.13 years during which the weight loss totaled 3.3%. Then I thought that if I were to continue by obtaining a current weight I would then have a record spanning 45 years! However, I couldn't get the ring off my finger due to some arthritic swelling, but in the interest of science I persisted. I took it to a jewelry store and they obliged by letting me use their gem balance, having an accuracy of ±1 mg.

My ring is a 14-carat gold plain band with some inscriptions on the inside. It dates back to 1947. It turns out that the rate of weight loss is not uniform; it decreases with time as revealed in a weight/time plot that is suggestive of a radioactive decay curve. The weight of the ring went from an initial 3.8222 g to a final value of 3.424 g in 45.62 years. The weight loss of 0.398 g averages 8.72 mg/year.

I can't begin to recall all that this ring and I have been through during our time together, and it has no doubt worn better than I have! As to the loss of value of this ring and others like it, the values of personal commitment and affection symbolized by a wedding ring remain unchanged and most likely increased.

Bernard Hofreiter
Peoria, Ill.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment