Precious Metals Explained
Gold has many qualities and has been used in jewellery for over six thousand years. Gold is a “noble metal” - which means it will not tarnish, corrode or rust and most acids will not harm it - except in the most unusual of situations. (Sometimes perfumes and perspiration can discolour the other metals gold is mixed with).
It is a wonderful metal to work – it can be drawn into fine wire, flattened or bent into shape. It can be highly reflective or matt finished making it an ideal metal to create exquisite, beautiful and fine jewellery.
Pure Gold is 24 carats, yellow in colour and very soft so is mixed with other metals to give it strength and make is suitable for making jewellery.
White gold is very popular and is created by mixing gold with other metals and then enhanced by
rhodium plating, which gives a hard, white and highly reflective finish. The rhodium plating on white gold will eventually wear and it is advised that these items are periodically re-rhodium plated. Fraser Hart stores can undertake this service.
The Platinum Family of Metals
Platinum and Palladium are part of a family of six metals with Rhodium, Palladium and Iridium being the most used in the jewellery trade.
Platinum is an ideal metal to use for setting diamonds because of its pure white colour and its reflective qualities enhancing the stones. It is also a very strong metal so even the finest of settings will hold your diamond secure.
Platinum is a naturally white metal and does not discolour, tarnish or corrode so it will always look fabulous.
The latest metal to receive a British Hallmark is Palladium and is generally worked at a purity of 95%. It is comparable in weight to 14ct gold and has become a popular choice as a metal for wedding rings.
As Palladium is a naturally white metal it will never change in colour or tarnish. Palladium does not need to be Rhodium plated and is a hypoallergenic metal. Palladium is harder than platinum but lighter.
Silver is a relatively light metal making it practical to use and comfortable to wear. Silver is the most reflective of all metals. Silver is an ideal metal to produce exquisite and stunningly beautiful jewellery.
Silver fineness is expressed as parts per thousand and is normally alloyed with copper to make it stronger and harder. There are four legal standards of silver in the UK with 925, Sterling Silver, being used mainly for jewellery and 958, Britannia Silver, being mostly used for ceremonial items.
Keeping Silver Bright
Silver naturally tarnishes due to sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere reacting with the surface of the metal. This can be easily cleaned with a liquid cleaner or cloth available from all Fraser Hart stores. Some items of silver have a lacquer applied to the and it is not recommended that these are cleaned with a liquid cleaner in case it affects the coating. If in doubt please visit a Fraser Hart store for advice and assistance before cleaning your item.