Taking The Confusion Out Of Precious Metals

Gold – No precious metal is as legendary and beautiful as gold. Gold’s rarity and beauty has provided it with status as a valuable commodity throughout the history of humanity. Gold has always been used as a monetary standard and ancient gold jewelry along with ornaments dating back centuries have been found throughout the world.

Gold is the most malleable of precious metals which makes it very easy with which to work. It never tarnishes and is unaffected by most chemicals. However, by prolonged exposure to chlorine, bleach, and certain detergents, Gold jewelry can discolor and have weakened solder areas. Please remember to remove your jewelry when cleaning with harsh chemicals or when going to the pool!

Gold lacks resistance to pressure so it easily bends. To increase toughness and durability, Gold jewelry is made up of two combined parts: Gold and alloyed metals. We use the term “Karat” to represent the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry compared to pure gold which is 24 karat. Here is a chart showing gold and alloy values:

10 kt 10 parts out of 24 parts gold 41.7% gold 417 European Hallmark 58.3% alloys
14 kt 14 parts out of 24 parts gold 58.3% gold 585 European Hallmark 41.7% alloys
18 kt 18 parts out of 24 parts gold 75.0% gold 750 European Hallmark 25.0% alloys


Jewelry without a legal hallmark may be one of the following: “Gold Tone” where the jewelry is merely a gold colored base metal; “Gold Plated” where gold has been applied to the surface through an electroplating process; or, “Gold Filled” where gold is mechanically pressed to a base metal using high heat and very high pressure. These three types of jewelry have little to no value for their gold content.

Platinum has only been known for the past few hundred years, versus thousands of years for gold. Extremely hard and for centuries very difficult to work with, most platinum traveled to earth from space in meteorites. Ten tons of ore must be mined to produce a single ounce of platinum. It takes five months to press platinum ore into pure platinum. It is difficult to imagine but all the platinum ever mined would fit into the average size living room. Annually, only slightly over 100 tons of platinum are mined compared to nearly 2,000 tons of gold.

Platinum jewelry contains the highest percentage of precious metal. Where 14kt gold jewelry is 58% precious metal and 18kt gold jewelry is 75% precious metal, platinum jewelry is either 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99% pure platinum.

Platinum will not wear away or wear down. For example, the shank of a gold wedding band will wear down and become thinner. This is not the case with platinum. All precious metals can be scratched. However, in platinum, there is actually no material lost from a scratch as there is with gold. It is more accurate to say gold and silver “scratch” but platinum only “dents.”

It is fashionable to wear platinum with your gold jewelry. In fact, many platinum designs combine the two metals. Platinum’s white color beautifully contrasts with yellow gold and adds versatility to your jewelry wardrobe. No other jewelry metal is more precious, more lasting or more appealing than platinum. Its rich white luster and understated elegance are beyond compare.

Silver – When shopping for silver jewelry, buyers have a choice: sterling silver or fine silver. The percentage of alloy present in a piece of silver determines if it is sterling silver or fine silver. Fine silver is often referred to as pure silver and is 99.9% silver. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver by weight and up to 7.5% alloy. For sterling silver and fine silver, copper is the most common metal used as an alloy to harden and strengthen.

Sterling silver tarnishes simply by being in contact with the air. Pure silver is, like gold and platinum, impervious to tarnish. It is the alloy metal and not the silver which attracts tarnish. There are many methods to remove tarnish. Some easier than others. Silver can also be plated with rhodium which can help in the tarnish department.

Hallmarks for pure silver will vary greatly based primarily upon the country of origin. Sterling Silver is fairly simple. You can consider your jewelry sterling silver if you find the following marks: 925, 925/100, Sterling, ster, or Sterling Silver.

Stop in anytime and our knowledgeable staff will take the confusion out of precious metals.