Precious Metals


Gold is a highly prized precious metal that for recorded history has been used as money, a store of value and in jewelry. Current gold prices on the world market can greatly affect the cost of gold jewelry. When selling gold in the form of jewelry, it is measured in karats (K). Pure gold will not corrode, rust, or tarnish. It is very b but also the most malleable of all metals. Gold’s softness, monetary value and natural beauty made it appealing for jewelry, but it is so soft that pure gold is rarely used in jewelry. In order to withstand the stresses of everyday wear, pure gold is mixed (or alloyed) with other metals to increase its strength, durability, and color range.

Therefore, it is commonly sold in lower measurements such as 18K (the highest weight appropriate due to gold’s softness) and 14K. A lower “K” indicates a higher percent of copper or silver mixed into the alloy, with copper being the more commonly used metal.

Pure gold is stated as 24 karat. Each karat represents 1/24 of pure gold. The gold content of an 18K jewelry item is therefore 18/24 or 75% pure gold. 10K gold is the lowest percentage allowed to be marked and sold as Karat Gold Jewelry in the United States. Misstating karat weight does occur, but usually goes undetected because it is not possible to analyze gold jewelry content without damaging the jewelry in the process. Therefore it is important to get your settings from a reputable supplier.

The gold content in jewelry can have a significant impact on its cost, especially in a period of high gold prices.

Yellow gold is the most common color but is being overtaken by white gold, especially among younger shoppers.

  • Gold jewelry should be stamped with both the karat weight and the manufacturer’s trademark (usually a symbol).
  • Consider setting color grade G, H, and I diamonds in yellow gold to offset their slightly yellow cast.

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White Gold

White gold for jewelry was originally developed in the 1920’s as a substitute for platinum. White gold is not platinum, but is used as a cheaper alternative, usually costing one-third as much as platinum. White gold is becoming more popular in jewelry than yellow gold, especially among younger shoppers. White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but is mixed with different metals such as nickel, zinc, silver, and palladium to give it a white color. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish.

Because 18K white gold is 75% gold and 14K white gold is 58.3% gold, jewelry made from these metals can have a slight yellow color. To enhance the whiteness, almost all white gold is plated with rhodium – a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard and a member of the platinum family.

Over time and with normal wear (as short as three years of normal wear), this rhodium plating may wear off. White gold jewelry wearers can therefore be disappointed to discover that their jewelry has gone off-white, even a yellow-brown tint, as the rhodium plating wears through. If the rhodium plating does wear through, the jewelry can be easily re-plated color restored.

Some people (about 12.5%) are sensitive or allergic to the nickel found in some white gold. Reactions are mild and only involve skin rashes.

  • Color grade D, E, and F diamonds really sparkle in White gold or Platinum settings.

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Platinum, like gold, has a long and distinguished history and remains one of the world’s most rare metals. The annual worldwide production of platinum is only about 10% that of gold. Because of its rarity, platinum is far more valuable than gold, and more expensive (two to four times more expensive). Platinum is alloyed with other metals – platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, osmium, titanium or copper. Most platinum jewelry is 90-95% pure platinum mixed with 5-10% iridium, palladium, or ruthenium for added strength.

Platinum has a rich, silvery-white color and a deep luster that makes platinum a popular choice for settings. Platinum used in jewelry is also very tarnish and scratch-resistant due to its higher density. Therefore, Platinum rings will tend to retain its finish longer than gold rings. Eventually, prongs of yellow and white gold may wear down enough that they must be reinforced with more metal for safety. This is generally not true for Platinum.

Platinum rarely causes a reaction to skin contact and is therefore is good for people who are allergic to other metals.

  • Platinum enhances the sparkle and brilliance of diamonds and this coupled with its durability and safety for securing diamonds in a setting makes Platinum an ideal choice especially for higher Color D, E and F grade diamonds.

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