The Seven Signs of Aging. Or Learning from Unexpected Places

 

We aged when we aged. And our skin aged along with us. Thank God I was already in my fifties when ads started talking of the ‘seven signs of aging’, which they assured us had to be taken care of in our twenties! Scary if invaluable information! Whoever knew, before these ads?

In spite (or because?) of such life-changing information, ads are not a place where I look to learn from or improve my vocabulary. But a few weeks ago, I saw these large ads for a company which seems to focus on pomegranate-related products (that seems a pretty narrow specialization!). And I saw the word ‘aril’ splashed around. Truthfully, I had never heard this word before. Since the ads talked about jams and syrups and squashes, I thought ‘aril’ was some kind of a product made from the fruit, maybe an exotic kind of pastry.

When I looked up Merriam Webster, I found it defines aril as: ‘an exterior covering or appendage of some seeds (as of the yew) that develops after fertilization as an outgrowth from the ovule stalk.’ In other words, in the context of pomegranates, it seems it means those red pearls I have always called the seeds.

I decided then not to be so cynical, and to try to think of other things I had learnt or should learn from ads.

The business of KDM is surely one of those! Akshaya Tritiya (actually, this festival itself is one I learnt of from ads!!!) seems an appropriate day to share this learning!

In the thousands of jewellery ads we see around us, I have for a few years now, come across the term ‘KDM’ as a major boast and differentiator. Now, as a good Tam, I know about carats—basically that South Indian jewellery is more noble in that our gold is of higher carat! But that is where my knowledge stopped.

After the ‘aril’ experience, I tried to look up KDM (on the web of course). Most sites are very confusing, but at last I think I have it figured out with the help of this site: https://artofgold.in/what-do-hallmark-916-kdm-jewellery-mean/2015/5199, and I quote:

‘The basic process in jewellery crafting is soldering a myriad of intricate gold parts. Without soldering, there is hardly any jewel that can be done. Needless to say this solder should have a melting temperature lower than that of gold, so just the solder melts and joins gold pieces without affecting the gold parts. Earlier this solder was a combination of Gold & Copper. Though there was no particular ratio for this solder, generally it was about 60% gold + 40% copper. Since this alloy was very strong and also easy to make, it was widely used in jewellery making for a long time. But the downside to this solder is that, purity of the solder is only 60%. So when this jewel is melted, quality will be less than 22 carat. This is the reason your old jewels may carry a seal of 22/20 (20 carat represents the melting purity).

To overcome this problem and maintain a high standard of gold purity, cadmium began to be used in place of copper. The advantage being that unlike the traditional gold & copper solder, gold and cadmium can be mixed in a ratio of 92% + 8%. In other words the solder itself has a purity of 92%. This ensured the finesse of jewel remains constant regardless of the amount of solder used. Such jewellery using cadmium began to be widely known as KDM jewellery.

But shortly after the introduction of cadmium, it was banned by BIS as it was found to cause health issues for artisans working with it. After the ban, cadmium was replaced by advanced solders with Zinc and other metals. But the term “KDM” hung on and is still commonly used. So a KDM jewellery means it will have the same purity even when it is melted, as the solder itself has a purity of 92%.’

With my long forgotten Chemistry education, I could make sense of this! And truly educational it is.

Well, one lives and one learns. And most of all I learnt that one can learn unexpected things from unexpected places.

–Meena

 

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