There are many metals on earth, but precious metals are those that are valued in jewelry. Three major metals that are most commonly used in jewelry are Gold, platinum and silver. Why these three metals? They all are workable, durable, and relatively rare. Each metal has a unique look and characteristics all its own. Knowing about each metal will increase your appreciation for jewelry.
Precious Metal Education
When pure gold is extracted from the earth it is very soft and not practical for use in jewelry, so it is mixed with other metals to increase durability. This mixture is known as karat (k, or kt.) gold. The most common karat gold used in jewelry consists of 10k, 14k and 18k gold.
Gold is measured by the karat system. 10k gold consists of 10 parts gold, and 14 parts other metals. 14k gold consists of 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. 18k gold consists of 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals.
Strategically increasing, and decreasing the amount of certain metals that are mixed with the gold can also produce different and beautiful colors of gold. Some colors that you will commonly see are yellow, white and pink.
Platinum is a white metal that is atomically very dense and has superior strength. This means that even though it can scratch (just as all of the other precious metals), platinum will tend to spread apart rather than wear away. Platinum is a hard metal that has very good holding power, which is good for jewelry settings.
Platinum is mixed with other platinum group metals (ie. iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium, and ruthenium) for added durability. Platinum is measured in parts per thousand. Most often you will see Pt900, Pt950 or Plat stamped on a piece of platinum jewelry. Pt900 means that there is 900 parts platinum and 100 parts other metals mixed in with the platinum. Pt950 means that there is 950 parts platinum and 50 parts other metals mixed in with the platinum.
Platinum is a beautiful metal for use in jewelry. It is practically hypoallergenic; it stays white, and is durable for everyday wear.
Polished silver has the highest luster of all of the precious metals. It is the most abundant of the precious jewelry metals which make it less costly than gold or platinum. For this reason, beautiful pieces of jewelry can be created for a very reasonable price. Silver is a metal that tarnishes over time, but with proper care and cleaning, silver can be brought back to its original luster.
Most silver used in jewelry is termed sterling silver. Sterling silver is silver that is alloyed with 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper to make it a more durable metal for use in jewelry. Sterling silver will often have the mark 925 to indicate its purity.
Jewelry Care & Cleaning
Gold, platinum and silver jewelry are durable metals that hold up very well for daily wear. To prolong the life of your jewelry it is recommended that you do not expose your jewelry to harsh chemicals. It is also recommended that you regularly have your jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected. Cleaning your jewelry helps remove dirt, lotions and skin oils, etc. that build up over time and eat away at the precious metals and possibly loosen stones from their settings.
Also, certain gemstones require special and delicate cleaning that should be handled by experienced jewelers. Paul Medawar Fine Jewelry will professionally clean and inspect your jewelry to ensure that everything is safe and secure even if you didn’t purchase the jewelry from us. We will let you know if there are any loose stones, worn prongs, or any other jewelry repair that is needed. We are Certified, qualified, and do jewelry repair in house.