GOLD METALS

Know Your Carats

Look for the carat mark, which will tell you that the piece is real gold and the percentage of pure gold it contains. Pure gold, or 24K, has a deeply warm and rich colour, but it is extremely soft and easily damaged. For this reason, pieces made from pure gold take on unique stamps of individuality with wear. Often times, gold is alloyed with other metals, such as copper, silver, nickel and zinc to give it strength and durability. Different proportions of these alloys also give gold its rose, green, or white colouration. 18K gold is 75% gold; 14K is 58.5%; and 9K is 37.5%. The higher the caratage, the richer the colour will be and the more costly. Imported gold jewellery may be stamped with different numbers. For example, the European marking for 14 carat gold jewellery is 585; for 18K it is 750. Note: Don't be confused with "carats," the weight and measure used for diamonds and other gems.

Evaluate The Price

In addition to carat weight, the price of gold jewellery is determined by several factors: total weight; design and construction; and ornamental detailing, such as engraving or Florentine finish. Although nearly all gold jewellery today is made with the help of special machines, some handwork is always involved. The more there is, the higher the price.

The good news is that through modern manufacturing technology, large, lightweight, and exciting pieces can be surprisingly affordable.

WHITE METALS

White metals’ cool allure has captured imaginations for centuries. You may prefer one kind of white metal, or you may be surprised to discover a new favourite among the wide range of white metals used in jewellery today. Each has its distinct advantages and some have unique looks and applications for jewellery. Understanding the qualities of each different white jewellery metal can help ensure that the piece you select today will offer a lifetime of joy and satisfaction.

What Are The White Jewellery Metals?
Sterling Silver:

From the ancient worlds of Byzantium and Egypt 4,000 years ago, to the New World mines of Mexico and Peru during the 17th and 18th centuries, the lure of silver has fascinated kings and conquerors. Today, silver has drawn some of our top jewellery designers to craft affordable, must-have items for the most stylish consumers.

The Look

Sterling silver is a versatile metal and can have a high polish, matte, brushed, satin, sandblasted, oxidised (chemically blackened), or antiqued finish.

Insider Details

Silver is a naturally soft metal and must be mixed with other metals to create an alloy; it is commonly mixed with copper. For jewellery to be labelled sterling silver, it must contain at least 92.5% pure silver. Genuine sterling silver jewellery will be marked with a 925, .925, 92.5 or “Ster.”

Advantages & Disadvantages

Sterling silver’s versatility and affordability create limitless options for fashionable jewellery. While sterling silver can tarnish or darken, you can return silver to its natural finish with proper care and cleaning.

Platinum:

Pure, rare, eternal – these qualities set platinum apart. A favourite of famous jewellery designer Peter Carl Faberge and the metal of choice for “platinum blondes” in Hollywood’s heyday, this precious metal has enjoyed yet another surge in popularity in recent years, particularly among discriminating bridal buyers.

The Look

Platinum’s lustre complements the sparkle of diamonds and gems. Its finish can range from a bright polish to a soft matte texture.

Insider Details

Jewellery made with platinum will have markings of Platinum, Pt, or Plat, meaning that it contains at least 95% pure platinum. If marked “iridplat,” it contains 90% platinum and 10% iridium, another platinum group metal. Platinum content is shown as 999 for 99.9% pure platinum, 950 for 95%, 900 for 90%, 850 for 85%, and so on.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Platinum’s strength assures you that your most precious diamonds and gems will be protected and secured. Platinum’s purity makes it hypo-allergenic and thus the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. Platinum ‘s durability makes it ideal for wearing every day, as it sustains very little metal loss over a lifetime of wear. Some wearers of brightly polished platinum don’t like the “patina” platinum that naturally develops with time, but the shine can be restored with regular re-polishing. Others may find platinum’s heaviness doesn’t suit certain styles, such as large earrings.

White Gold:

A World War II favourite, white gold meant patriotism for that era’s marrying couples, when platinum was taken off the market for use in the war effort. Today, white gold offers precious affordability and fashionable fun, along with sturdy durability.

The Look

White gold gets its colour by mixing yellow gold with alloys like nickel, zinc, and palladium. Due to the variety of the alloys used, white gold colours will vary. Sometimes, white gold is covered with rhodium plating to create a bright, pure white finish.

Insider Details

White gold is available in cartages up to 21 carat; it is not possible to have 22k or 24k white gold.18-carat gold is 75% pure, 14k is 58.5% pure, and 9ct (the lowest caratage legally sold as gold jewellery.) is 37.5% pure.

Advantages & Disadvantages

White gold is a more affordable yet still durable and precious alternative to platinum. It doesn’t tarnish like silver. But some rhodium-plated white gold can “yellow” over time and may need to be occasionally re-plated with rhodium. When gold is alloyed with nickel, it can be allergenic to a small percentage of wearers who have skin allergies. In response, many refiners and manufacturers are now offering white gold that doesn’t contain nickel, and others are creating white gold alloys that are white enough to not need rhodium plating. Be sure to ask your jeweller about these newer alloys.

Palladium:

Palladium is the “newest” white metal to make a splash among jewellery makers. A platinum group metal that’s not actually new, palladium shares many of platinum’s rich benefits at more affordable prices. Its strength makes it a favourite metal for elaborate, solid jewellery.

The Look

Palladium has garnered much attention from jewellers since it offers the benefits of platinum – bright white colour, purity, and strength at a more affordable price. Jewellery designers are taking advantage of palladium’s strong, light characteristics and creating new white-metal jewellery that is solid and big but affordable.

Insider Details

Palladium, like platinum, is a very pure metal. Look for 950 Palladium, which means that the metal used is 95% pure, and usually mixed with 5% ruthenium. Sometimes jewellers use a 90% palladium/10% iridium combination. Both ruthenium and iridium, like palladium, are among the group of metals related to platinum.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Palladium does not require plating to maintain its lustrous white colour, and it is hypo-allergenic. It will not tarnish. However, palladium is neither as rare nor as heavy as platinum.

Alternative Metals

Titanium, Tungsten Carbide, Stainless Steel:

These three industrial metals fascinate men and women alike – but the guys dominate. That’s probably due to the metals’ popularity in watches and their “technical” qualities. They are tough and can take a lot of wear and tear – another plus. 

Although not commonly used in fine jewellery, Titanium, Stainless Steel and Tungsten Carbide are gaining popularity in jewellery, especially with men, as complements to watches of the same metal. Used for their durability in active accessories, like golf clubs, the metals are well suited to active consumers who will wear the jewellery on a daily basis and do not want to worry about its care and condition.

The Look

The metals’ steely, grey appearance especially appeals to men. Titanium also has a unique property that allows it to be transformed, using heat or chemicals, into bright colours like blue, purple, and black. The metals are often used in inlay designs, with contrasting metals and patterns in rings and bracelets. Jewellery made from these metals usually features contemporary designs in rings, bracelets, cuff-links, earrings, money clips, and necklaces.

Insider Details

Unlike the precious metals – platinum, gold, silver and palladium – these metals are not rare. Titanium is the ninth most common element found on earth; stainless steel was created in a laboratory. However, the metals are very pure. For example, commercially pure titanium is composed of >99.2% titanium plus elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon. They have the dual benefits of being very strong, but also light weight. And they are durable. In fact, tungsten is considered the world’s hardest metal substance; it ranks 8-9 on the Mohs hardness scale (diamonds are a 10). It is roughly ten times harder than gold and four times harder than titanium.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Titanium, stainless steel, and tungsten carbide offer affordable alternatives to precious white metal jewellery. They are non-corrosive and hypo-allergenic. Jewellery made using these industrial metals is scratch resistant and will retain its polish longer than other metals. When used in chain or link bracelets, the metals are less likely to snap or break – making the need for repair infrequent. However, titanium and tungsten carbide’s strength also limits their jewellery options. They cannot be used to make delicate designs. They are so tough that resizing rings is not possible.

 

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