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Highly sought-after metal that for many centuries, gold has been used as money, store of value and in jewelry.
In many civilizations gold was the symbol of divine, probably because of its two most known properties: its quasi-inalterability which makes it fit for immortality and its bright yellow color which reflects the power of the sun. Ancient Egyptians believed that gold was the flesh of the gods and used it among other things for the funeral mask of pharaohs.
Gold quality is expressed in karats (not to be confused with carat which refers to the weight of a gemstone). The karat is the proportion of pure gold found the metal, 24 karats being the maximum (pure gold). A 14 karats bracelet for example has 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy (usually silver, copper, zinc or nickel). 16kt / 24kt = 58.3% gold.
Pure gold being too soft to be used directly in jewelry, It has to be mixed or alloyed with other metals like silver, zinc or copper to provide the strength and durability required and also to alter its original color.
In Canada the minimum karat quality of an item to be legally called gold is 9 karats . In the U.S. the minimum legal is 10 karats. As this could be different in other countries any claim that a piece of jewelry is gold should be accompanied with the karat quality.
It is important to verify that an item wears the karat stamp along with the manufacturer trademark. It's a sure sign that the manufacturer stands behind its product. Canadian and U.S. laws require that trademark marking be used whenever karat marking is used to ensure the marking is genuine. As a general rule, avoid any unmarked jewelry unless it is dirt cheap.
Yellow gold is obtained from alloying gold with silver and copper. This is the color most commonly found in gold jewelry. Generally non corrosive it is not susceptible to compression.
Rose gold comes from 24kt gold alloyed with copper in a proportion of three part gold and one part copper, sometimes with a hint of silver. It is also known as pink gold and red gold. The common ratio for pink gold is three quarter gold and one quarter copper. The highest karat version of rose gold is also known as crown gold, which is 22 karat.
White gold result from combining gold with nickel or a choice other white metals (palladium, zinc). It looks similar to platinum and is often used as a substitute, but is softer and less reflective also less enduring.
Other colors exists like Green gold (gold and silver alloy) or Black Gold (electrodeposition using black rhodium or ruthenium) but are less common and used mostly in specialized jewelry.
Solid gold designate a piece of jewelry made of any karat gold, if the inside of the item is not hollow.
There is a variety of ways jewelry can be gold plated. Gold plate refers to pieces mechanically plated, electroplated, or plated by any other means with gold to a base metal. How long gold plating will last on an item depends on how often it is worn and how thick the plating is.
Gold-filled, gold overlay and rolled gold plate are terms used to describe jewelry that has a layer of at least 10 karat gold mechanically bonded to a base metal. If a piece of jewelry is qualified with one of these terms, the term or abbreviation should follow the karat quality of the gold used (i.e.: 14K Gold Overlay or 12K RGP). If the layer of karat gold is less than 1/20th of the total weight of the item, any marking must state the actual percentage of karat gold, such as 1/40 14K Gold Overlay.
Gold electroplate describes jewelry that has a layer (at least .175 microns thick) of a minimum of 10 karat gold deposited on a base metal by an electrolytic process. To give an idea how thin a layer of gold this is, a micron is one millionth of a meter or a thousandth of a millimeter (1/1000 millimeter).
The terms gold flashed or gold washed describe products that have an extremely thin electroplating of gold (less than .175 microns thick). It will wear off more quickly than
Vermeil is a special type of gold plated product, consisting of a base of sterling silver that is coated or plated with gold.
Should your items begin to tarnish before they can be sold, make an extra effort to keep them in airtight containers or if need be, brush them occasionally with a silver cloth. These cloths are commonly found at jewelry stores, though your wholesale dealer may provide them. The cloths remove tarnish instantly from the jewelry.
Silver had been known to man since ancient times. It is referred to in the Christian Old Testament and there had been that silver was being separated from lead as early as the 4th millennium BC.
Mostly used for ornaments utensil and as the basis for many monetary system, its value was considered second only to gold. In Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe, it was often more valuable than gold.
Associated with the moon, as well as with the sea and various lunar goddesses, the metal was referred to by alchemists by the name "luna". One of the alchemical symbols for silver is a crescent moon with the open part on the left.
Nowadays, sterling silver has become a popular affordable alternative to white gold or platinum. It can be polished into a higher sheen than any other white metals.
Only slightly harder than pure gold, pure silver is soft and easily damaged. To improve its strength it is combined with copper, which makes it sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. Sometimes copper is replaced by zinc or platinum to reinforce some of its properties.
The measure of purity of silver alloy is the millesimal fineness. This system denotes the purity of platinum, gold and silver alloys by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. The minimum is 925, which really means 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal.
Buying silver jewelry, ensure that the item is stamped with a quality mark. The federal law requires that the mark be accompanied by a registered trademark or maker's mark. Acceptable marks for silver include: sterling, sterling silver, ster, .925.
Silver should not come into contact with harsh household chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or chlorine. Silver tends to tarnish as it reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the air.
To prevent jewelry from damage, store your sterling silver jewelry in a cool, dry place individually in pouches or plastic bags to keep them from environmental harm.
Cleaning and wearing it regularly will help maintain its shine and prevent this. Immediately upon noticing discoloration, use a polish made specifically for removing tarnish or use a silver cloth, commonly found at jewelry stores (will remove any tarnish instantly).
Do not rub jewelry with coarse fabric as it may scratch the jewelry surface.
Platinum is more expensive than gold and belongs to a group of metals known as the platinum group which also comprise iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium. It is commonly mixed with other similar metal of the platinum group.
Naturally-occurring platinum and platinum-rich alloys have been known to man for a long time. Used by pre-Columbian Native Americans, it first appeared in European references around 1557 as mysterious and "impossible to melt".
First regarded as an unwanted impurity in the silver mines, it was often discarded. It is now produced commercially as a by-product of nickel ore processing. There is usually one part of the platinum metals in two million parts of ore.
The word platinum comes from the Spanish word platina, meaning "little silver."
The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example 900 Platinum means 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum (or 90% platinum and 10% other metals). The abbreviations used for platinum are Plat. or Pt., sometimes also used for jewelry marking.
If a piece of jewelry contains at least 950 parts per thousand of pure platinum, it can be marked simply platinum. If an Item have at least 850 parts per thousand of pure platinum, it can be marked with the amount of pure platinum and the word platinum or an abbreviation (i.e.: 850 platinum, 850 Plat or 850 Pt.).
A piece of jewelry that contains less than 850 parts per thousand of pure platinum, but has a total of 950 parts per thousand of the platinum group metals (of which at least 500 parts is pure platinum), may be marked with both the amount of pure platinum and the amount of the other platinum group metals in the piece. (i.e.: 650 Plat. 300 Irid. means that the item has 650 parts per thousand (65%) platinum, and 300 parts per thousand (30%) iridium, totaling 950 parts
Platinum Alloys by countries
European Countries with No Negative Tolerances
The Convention of the Control & Marketing of Articles of Precious Metals of 1972 requires a single 950 per 1000 Standard without tolerance.
European countries allowing a small negative tolerance
European Countries Counting Iridium as Platinum
In order to stamp an item "Platinum" in the United States 950 parts per thousand must be platinum. In alloying, the minimum amount of platinum is 500 parts per 1000, and the entire mix must be comprised of 950 parts per thousand Platinum Group Metals or PGM's. Some countries allow for a small negative tolerance, where solders are being used. In the US that tolerance is zero.Back to the top
Copper is one of the oldest metals ever used and has been one of the important materials in the development of civilization. It can be traced throughout history for nearly 10,000 years. Civilizations like Iraq, China, Egypt, Greece and the Sumerian cities all have early evidence of using copper.
During the Roman Empire, copper was principally mined on Cyprus, hence the origin of the name of the metal as Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum and eventually anglicized into copper. Copper was associated with the goddess Aphrodite/Venus in mythology. In alchemy the symbol for copper was also the symbol for the planet Venus.
Copper is a reddish-brown colored metal, with a high electrical and thermal conductivity. Numerous alloys of copper exist, many with important historical and contemporary uses. Speculum metal and bronze are alloys of copper and tin. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Monel metal, also called cupronickel, is an alloy of copper and nickel. "Bronze" is also a generic term for any alloy of copper, such as aluminum bronze, silicon bronze, and manganese bronze.
Copper's purity is expressed as 4N for 99.99% pure or 7N for 99.99999% pure. The numeral gives the number of nines after the decimal point when expressed as a decimal (i.e.: 4N means 0.9999, or 99.99%).