The Mettle of Metal

What the difference is, between the types of metals used in jewellery, is a question I am often asked by clients. If this is something you have also wondered, here is some information for you.

Silver is considered a semi-precious metal and is the whitest of all the metals. Generally, the silver you see in jewellery is made with sterling silver, a mixture of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper, also known as 925. This is because fine or pure silver is too soft to be used in jewellery and it is only once you add copper that it becomes more durable. Silver does tarnish over time and can be polished to remove the darker shade this leaves.

Accent pendants    Black Accent ring with matching Accent earrings

Sterling silver pendants             Sterling silver rings and earrings

Made of Mettle                             Made of Mettle

**Economically, the value of silver has steadily increased for nearly a century, although with today’s gold market prices, silver is increasing in popularity.

Pure gold (fine gold) is softer than pure silver and while its luster is unmatched by any alloyed gold, it is also too soft to be used in jewellery on its own. It is combined with other metals to increase the toughness and hardness of the metal, making it perfect for crafting into interesting designs without putting too much stress on the metal

The percentage of yellow gold in jewellery varies and is referred to in karats with pure gold referred to as 24K gold. Most gold jewellery in South Africa is manufactured either from 18K gold which is 75% gold and 25% metal alloys or 9K gold which is 37.5% gold and 62.5% metal alloys. 14K gold is also used in Europe and is made up of 58.3% gold and 41.7% metal alloys. The difference between a gold karat and a diamond carat is that a karat is the amount of gold in a particular item whereas a carat is a unit of weight.

Gold is available in different tones, such as rose or red gold, yellow gold and white gold; the exact hue depends in the type of metal alloys used and the percentage of each of them. Usually, white gold is coated with a very thin layer of rhodium to give it greater depth of color and shine as the natural color of white gold is a more creamy white colour.

Bespoke box fitted ring Custom designed ring with pave set diamonds AngloGold competition

18K Rose & yellow gold ring      18K White gold ring              18ct yellow gold bangle

 Made of Mettle                           Made of Mettle                     Tracey Jane Lotter

**The price of gold has varied greatly. During the past decade, the price has greatly increased, making gold one of the most sought-after precious metals for investment purposes.

Platinum is one of the rarest precious metals. It is white in appearance and looks similar to silver. It is very strong and durable and is resistant to corrosion and oxidization. It is much heavier than gold or silver.  Platinum does not yellow or tarnish and maintains it’s white appearance with little maintenance, it does develop a slight hazy look which can easily be polished away. Due to the unusual characteristics of this metal, a platinum smith must have a different set of tools than a goldsmith.

Palladium is a soft silver-white metal that resembles platinum and is becoming a lot more popular in jewellery as it’s price falls somewhere between 9K and 18K gold. It has similar characteristics to platinum as far as durability and rarity goes, however, it is much lighter in weight. Palladium is also the metal alloy of choice to mix with pure gold to create the finest white gold. Like platinum, it will develop a hazy patina over time.

Palladium ring    Platinum ring

Palladium ring                                          Platinum ring

Brown and Newirth                                JPB Jewellery

**The value of platinum also differs depending upon the current state of the economy. If the economy is good, the price of platinum can be very high; however, if the economy is struggling, it can significantly decrease in value. The price of palladium increases and decreases greatly, though there is no economic pattern that affects its value like there is with silver and gold.

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