Precious Metals Guide, Gold, Silver, Platinum & Palladium

Jewelry Metals Guide

We use the highest quality precious metals, which have been mined from the earth and carefully forged into premium rings, necklaces, pendants, and earrings by expert jewelry artisans. Although gold, platinum, and silver are the most commonly used varieties, other metals like Palladium and Tungsten have become increasingly popular.

 

GOLD

Gold, as an element, is a dense, shiny, deep yellow precious metal. It has several qualities that have made it valuable throughout history, both as a medium of exchange and for decorative use in jewelry. It is attractive in color and brightness; it is so durable it's practically indestructible. Gold is also rare and usually found in nature in a relatively pure form. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of metals. It may be beaten into gold leaf as thin as 4 millionths of an inch - an ounce can be beaten out to 187 square feet. An ounce of gold can also be drawn into a wire more than 40 miles long.
yellow gold

Know your Gold

Gold is a good conductor of electricity, though not as good as silver or copper. Gold is the noblest of the "noble metals" – (gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium) so called because of their inertness, or reluctance to enter into chemical reactions. It will not combine directly with oxygen nor will it react with common acids.

Gold is, however, attacked by a 3-to-1 mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids. This reagent is called aqua regia (Latin for royal water) because it reacts with the so-called royal metal.In jewelry, gold is commonly alloyed with other metals in proportions that yield desired hardnesses and colors.

An alloy of gold, silver, and copper, in which the amounts of silver predominates, is called "green gold." An alloy of the same three elements in which copper predominates is called "red gold." An alloy of gold and nickel is called "white gold."


The purity of gold is expressed in karats (kt), on a scale of 24, or in fineness, on a scale of 1,000. Pure gold is 24 karat, or 1,000 fine. An alloy containing 75 percent gold would be described as 18-karat gold or 750 fine.

yellow gold

History

Since gold is visually pleasing, workable and does not tarnish or corrode, it was one of the first metals to attract human attention. Examples of elaborate gold workmanship, many in nearly perfect condition, survived from ancient Egyptian, Minoan, Assyrian, and Etruscan artisans. Gold has, also, continued to be a highly favored material used to craft jewelry and other decorative objects.
The search for gold has been a major force in history. Men have fought wars and conquered empires to obtain it. Desire for gold motivated the conquests of Alexander the Great and the campaigns of Julius Caesar. The hope of finding gold also inspired the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and other explorers. In the Middle Ages, alchemists sought to make gold from the base metals lead and copper. The alchemists failed, but the modern science of chemistry gradually evolved from their work.


Because of its unique qualities, gold has been universally accepted in exchange for goods and services. Gold began to serve as backing for paper-currency systems when they became widespread in the 19th century, and although gold's official role in the international monetary system had come to an end by the 1970s, gold remains a highly regarded reserve asset. In the last 500 years, about 80,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth. World reserves of gold economically recoverable by present methods may total only about 32,000 tons. Since gold is both durable and carefully guarded, most of the gold that has been taken from the earth still exists. Much of it has been buried again -- in underground vaults, where it is held in government monetary reserves. Approximately 45% of the entire world's gold is held by governments and central banks for this purpose. Gold is still accepted by all nations as a medium of international payment and is widely distributed throughout the world.


Tiny quantities of gold occur in most rocks and soils. Its abundance in the Earth's crust is estimated at about 0.005 parts per million. Usually, however, the amount of gold is so minute that the cost of extracting it would exceed its value. It is dispersed in low concentrations in all igneous rocks. Gold occurs mostly in the native state, remaining chemically uncombined. It often occurs in association with copper and lead deposits, and, though the quantity present is often extremely small, it is readily recovered as a by-product in the refining of those base metals. One-third of all gold is produced as a by-product of copper, lead, and zinc production. Where gold occurs in higher concentrations, the deposits are of two basic types: hydrothermal veins, associated with quartz and pyrite (fool's gold); and placer deposits that are derived from the erosion of gold-bearing rocks and appear in alluvium and stream beds. The origin of enriched veins is not known but theories contend that gold was carried to the surface from great depths in the earth's mantle, in partial solid solution, and later solidified.


In addition to its historic use as currency and jewelry, gold has also been applied in dentistry and medicine. Today, because of its non-corrosive properties it is playing an increasing role in industrial processes. In the late 20th century, South Africa, Russia, the United States, and Australia accounted for two-thirds of the gold produced annually throughout the world. South Africa alone, with its vast Witwatersrand mines, produces about one-third of the world's gold.

 

Gold Rose

 

SILVER

Jewelry and silverware are traditionally made from sterling silver (standard silver), an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper..
 
Know your Silver In the US, only an alloy consisting of at least 90.0% fine silver can be marketed as "silver" (thus frequently stamped 900). Sterling silver (stamped 925) is harder than pure silver, and has a lower melting point (893 °C) than either pure silver or pure copper. Britannia silver is an alternative, hallmark-quality standard containing 95.8% silver, often used to make silver tableware and wrought plate. With the addition of germanium, the patented modified alloy Argentium Sterling silver is formed, with improved properties, including resistance to fire scale. Sterling silver jewelry is often plated with a thin coat of .999 fine silver to give the item a shiny finish. This process is called "flashing". Silver jewelry can also be plated with rhodium (for a bright, shiny look) or gold. Silver is a constituent of almost all colored carat gold alloys and carat gold solders, giving the alloys paler color and greater hardness. White 9 carat gold contains 62.5% silver and 37.5% gold, while 22 carat gold contains up to 91.7 gold and 8.4% silver or copper or a mixture of both. The more copper added, the more "orange" the gold becomes. Rose Gold (stamped 375 or 9K, can be stamped 9c) was very popular in the UK in the late 19th century.
 

History Historically, the training and guild organization of goldsmiths included silversmiths as well, and the two crafts remain largely overlapping. Unlike blacksmiths, silversmiths do not shape the metal while it is red-hot, but instead, work it at room temperature with gentle and carefully-placed hammer blows. The essence of silversmithing is to take a flat piece of metal and to transform it into a useful object using different hammers, stakes and other simple tools, While silversmiths specialize in, and principally work, silver, they also work with other metals, such as gold, copper, steel, and brass. They make jewelry, silverware, armor, vases, and other artistic items. Because silver is such a malleable metal, silversmiths have a large range of choices with how they prefer to work the metal. Historically, silversmiths are mostly referred to as goldsmiths, which was usually the same guild. In the western Canadian silversmith tradition, guilds do not exist; however, mentoring through colleagues becomes a method of professional learning within a community of craftspeople.
Silver is much cheaper than gold, though still valuable, and so is very popular with jewelers who are just starting out and cannot afford to make pieces in gold, or as a practicing material for goldsmith apprentices. Silver has also become very fashionable, and is used frequently in more artistic jewelry pieces.

 

Platinum

The sparkling white shine of this metal makes it the most preferred choice of metal for settings of various kinds of jewelry design. Platinum adds to the luminosity of the diamond.
Know your Platinum When Platinum is exposed to air and water it neither gets tarnished or oxidized and it also has resistance towards corrosion. These aspects of Platinum make it the most favored choice for jewelry. Silver white metallic shine gives it a very elegant and subtle look. It also has hypoallergenic properties and hence makes it a furthermore good choice as most of the population is allergic towards alloyed gold.
For its quality of durability, we at Brodkeys.com set all loose diamonds with platinum prongs for securing the diamonds. Over the years platinum can develop few glazes of scratch, many people like this natural tarnished look of platinum. But you can also get it polished by a jeweler to get back the sparkling shine.
Majority of our platinum jewelry are made of 95 percent of pure platinum which is combined with 5 percent of iridium, palladium, ruthenium and other alloys. For assurance in high quality platinum always look for the mark 950 Plat or Plat.
 
Care Though it is a very hard material, it is important that you take care of your platinum jewelry. You can buff your platinum by dipping it into a solution of mild soap and warm water for sometime. After that take a soft bristle brush and rub the surface gently. In doing so you get back the sparkling shine.
 

 

PALLADIUM

Palladium is a soft silver-white metal that resembles platinum. It is the least dense and has the lowest melting point of the platinum group metals.
This metal also does not react with oxygen at normal temperatures (and thus does not tarnish in air). The most common use of palladium today is in catalytic converters. Research is in progress to discover ways to replace the much more expensive platinum with palladium in this application.
 
Know your Palladium Palladium is one of the two metals which can be alloyed with gold to produce White gold. (Nickel can also be used.) Similar to gold, palladium can be beaten into a thin leaf form as thin as 100 nm (1/250,000 in).
 
History Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803 and was named after the asteroid Pallas, which was discovered two years earlier.
Palladium is found as a free metal in placer deposits of the Ural Mountains, Australia, Ethiopia, South and North America. However, it is commercially produced from nickel-copper deposits found in South Africa and Ontario.
Of late, an increasing number of white precious metal alloys have been introduced into the jewelry marketplace in answer to industry cries for a true white counterpart to the ever-popular yellow gold. The search has been on for a workable white alloy that stays white, is hypoallergenic and priced more agreeably than platinum.
Palladium was first used for jewelry when platinum was declared a strategic metal and reserved for military use in 1939. Palladium alloys for jewelry typically contain 95% palladium and about 5% ruthenium and have trace amounts of other metals proprietary to their developers. These palladium alloys are white, noble, malleable, lightweight, hypoallergenic, and easy to finish and polish. Furthermore, they do not require rhodium plating and have desirable platinum-like setting and forming characteristics.
The specific gravity of palladium is close to that of 14k white gold and nearly half the weight by volume of platinum. The lightness of palladium alloys and pricing considerations make them prime candidates for use in fashionable, affordable and classically influenced jewelry designs. Palladium will stay white, never requiring the “renewed whitening” via rhodium plating white gold does.