A Little History of Scales
Fine jewelry is a thing of beauty, whimsy, and precision workmanship. A balance of the desire for a piece and practicality in creating a piece is employed as we create jewelry. Cost is most always a consideration when working with precious metals and gemstones, (as well as the cost of a highly trained jeweler’s time). In determining cost, the weight of the metal (especially if gold) is of paramount importance. A gram may seem insignificant in weight but it is costly in precious gold. For this reason, when you enter a jewelry store, you’ll notice an array of highly specific equipment for weighing metals. Whether buying or selling gold, you should always feel comfortable asking your jeweler about the weight of pieces being bought or sold.
Precise and accurate measurements of weight are key to a jeweler’s integrity, and have been throughout history. That being said, I spoke to a legendary gold dealer who assured me that some jewelers in Appalachia didn’t have proper scales to measure gold with until the 1980s. I was astounded to hear this bit of information! According to him, it was the arrival of the chain jewelry stores in the early part of that magnificent 1980s decade that pushed independent jewelers into modernization of their equipment and methods.
Today, digital scales are found easily in any jewelry store. In the near past, though, it was not uncommon for a jeweler to hold a ring in their hand and surmise the weight. Mistakes happened often, as you can imagine when dealing with such small measurements. The chain stores didn't have that problem, as they had in their stores all sort of precision measuring instruments. The independent jewelry dealers were pushed to bring in more modern and precise practices, and most did.