About Precious Metals
What makes a metal precious?
A unique combination of several factors contributes to some metals being considered precious and prized. Besides the fundamental aspect of rarity the metal must be beautiful, durable, and workable. A common thread among gold, platinum, and palladium is that they are all chemically stable; able to endure time, weather, and exposure to foreign elements nearly unchanged. Gold from lost ships can lie at the seas depths for hundreds even thousands of years yet still display its beautiful golden hue when rediscovered. Other metals such as iron would rust and copper discolor to a dark green over the course of time.
Furthermore the metal must be workable. Gold, platinum and palladium are quite malleable enabling expert craftsmen to work the metal without undue complications. Gold can be hammered to such a fine sheet that it becomes 400 times thinner than a human hair.
Gold has been synonymous with royalty and wealth for thousands of years. The high value bestowed on gold from the ancient Sumerians to the ancient Greeks, from the Incas to the present has been universal. Not only desired for personal adornment, gold also has a multitude of industrial uses from electronic components to energy efficient windows for homes and offices.
It has been said that all the gold ever found would fill just two Olympic size swimming pools, a small amount when one considers the more than 3000 years of active pursuit for this precious metal.
Platinum is an exceptionally rare metal, 30 times more so then gold. It is known best for its wear resistance. Many fine rings made in the 1920’s and 1930’s are still in use today because they were made in platinum.
When made into jewelry platinum is generally 90-95% pure, combined with other very rare and precious metals in the platinum family. A distinct advantage to this metal is that it is impervious to almost all chemicals making it hypoallergenic, and a great choice for those with sensitive skin. Another advantageous quality is its malleability. Just one gram of platinum can be stretched into a fine wire over one mile long. This unique characteristic allows master jewelers to create incredibly intricate and detailed designs.
Platinum is much denser then gold, bestowing a luxurious weight to this beautiful metal. It also has the wonderful distinction of wearing nearly twice as long as similar designs made in gold. Its natural white color is the ultimate answer for those seeking a white metal and is the perfect compliment to the icy white brilliance of diamonds.
Palladium is a member of the platinum family sharing many of the great characteristics of platinum at an outstanding value. A bit lighter in weight than platinum, it too is naturally white in color, and hypoallergenic at 95% pure when used in jewelry. Palladium is also more resistant to dents than platinum.
Silver has been used to make jewelry, utensils, and other adornments as a symbol of prestige and honor for thousands of years. Silver by itself is rather soft. The addition of other metals, typically copper, results in sterling silver, a metal that is 92.5% pure. Sterling silver jewelry is often plated with rhodium, a bright, white, and rare metal of the platinum group. This process helps to protect silver jewelry from tarnishing.
Sterling silver is best used for jewelry that will not be worn every day for it is much softer then gold, platinum or palladium.
Platinum or Gold: Myth and Reality
Which is Better 18K or 14K Gold?
While 14K gold is generally harder than 18K gold, 18K gold is more pure in its gold content, possessing a richer gold color.
Which is better, 14K or 18K? It depends on the application. Many of our 18K rings are made in a special 12-step die striking process. The molecules of gold are compressed with extra tight density resulting in superior wear resistance over ordinary 18K gold. While die struck 14K gold may be a little harder than die struck 18K gold, many prefer for rings the look and feel of 18K gold. In chains and bracelets, because the links are moving parts, we generally make in 14K gold for superior wear.
Advantages & Limitations
Advantages: Platinum is naturally white, it resists wear better than either white or yellow gold.
Limitations: It bends more easily than white gold. Heavier prongs or structural supports are at times necessary to compensate for platinum’s tendency to bend. It tends to scratch more easily. Wears to a gray-white.
Advantagea: The warmth of its yellow color is forgiving to the patina of time.
Limitations: Bends more easily than does white gold. Yellow color may impart a tinge of yellow to gems. Wears more quickly than platinum or white gold.
Advantages: Is harder than yellow gold and is stiffer than platinum, providing superior strength for holding gems in some prong designs. Wears better than yellow gold. Less costly than platinum.
Limitations: It wears more quickly than platinum. It is not absolutely white as it wears, often showing a yellowish tint. Jewelry made by even the same manufacturer may not match as technical requirements of different designs may require different alloys.
White gold is harder than yellow gold. Platinum resists wear better than white or yellow gold, but bends more easily. Do not decide on platinum under the presumption that it is stronger. Platinum wears to a gray-white. White gold wears to a yellowish-white. Never mix white gold with platinum due to the differences in how they wear. Discussing the specific piece of jewelry under consideration, your lifestyle, and your expectations / desires with your jeweler will help you to choose the right precious metal.