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Quantification of the abrasive wear of a gold wedding ring


Pieces of gold jewellery, especially rings, are known to suffer continuous abrasion during the time they are worn. This fact causes troubles in chemical analyses, because analytical methods that are sensitive in the determination of gold, especially Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), are often faced with contamination of gold from human fingers. Since no other piece of jewellery is worn more often and regularly than wedding rings, quantification of the abrasion of a wedding ring is necessary. In this study, the abrasion of an 18 carat gold wedding ring was quantified by weighing the ring weekly over the period of one year. The composition of the ring (75 Au - 15 Ag - 10 Cu) was determined using NAA. In one year, the ring lost 6.15 mg (0.39 mm3) 18 carat gold due to abrasive wear. The highest abrasion could be observed in the course of vacation on the beach, where obviously the friction with sand increased the abrasion. Gardening and skiing also result in increased abrasive wear. However, the author suggests not wearing rings in analytical laboratories to avoid this contamination.


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Dedicated to my wife Veronika Steinhauser on the occasion of our first wedding anniversary.

Dr. Georg Steinhauser is a new member of the gold-enthusiastic community. He works in several disciplines of radiochemistry and inorganic chemistry. Currently, he serves as a post-doctoral fellow at the LMU in Munich in the field of energetic materials (with financial support of the Erwin Schrödinger Auslandsstipendium of the Austrian Science Fund, project No. J-2645-N17).

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Steinhauser, G. Quantification of the abrasive wear of a gold wedding ring. Gold Bull 41, 51–57 (2008).

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  • Gold jewelery
  • jeweler
  • contamination
  • abrasion
  • corrosion
  • neutron activation analysis