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Precious Metal

Precious Metals

Nothing shines like yellow gold, white gold, or platinum. Over time, precious metals have come to symbolize wealth, power, and strength. Their beauty and physical qualities make precious metals a prized part of any jewelry collection.
 
No matter how much research you do, and no matter how much time you spend on the process, remember one key element: Enjoy the Experience! This is supposed to be a fun time for both of you, so do your research, but don't become overwhelmed in the process.  
 

Gold

Gold has the longest history of all precious metals. It is the foundation of the world’s currency system – money represents a value in gold. Pure gold will not corrode, rust, or tarnish. It is very strong but also the most malleable of all metals. Though it was gold’s softness and natural beauty that made it appealing for jewelry, it is so soft that pure gold is rarely used in jewelry. In order to withstand the stresses of everyday wear, pure gold is mixed (or alloyed) with other metals to increase its strength, durability, and color range.
 

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is the most common color and is usually alloyed with silver and copper. The saturation of color varies according to gold content. The quantity (or purity) of gold in a given alloy is expressed in karats (k or kt.) Pure gold is 24kt (100% gold) – too soft for use in jewelry. Following are some common gold alloys: 18kt (75% gold and 25% other metals) - used in fine jewelry.
 
 
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14kt (58.3% gold) - recommended and most commonly used in jewelry where strength is most important. 10kt (41.7% gold) - the legal limit karat considered to be real gold in the United States.

When buying gold jewelry be sure to look for the karat mark or “k” that appears on the back of the piece. In addition (and by U.S. law) you should also see the manufacturer’s trademark and country of origin to assure you are buying genuine karat gold jewelry.
 

White Gold

White gold is fast becoming more popular in color than yellow gold. It is requested more often in 14kt jewelry because it looks similar to platinum, but does not come with the platinum price tag.

White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but is mixed with different metals such as nickel, zinc, silver, and palladium to give it a white color. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. Because 18kt white gold is 75% gold and 14kt white gold is 58.3% gold, jewelry made from these metals can have a slight yellow color. To enhance the whiteness, almost all white gold is plated with rhodium – a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard and a member of the platinum family. Over time and with normal wear, this rhodium plating may wear off. Re-plating is a simple process that can be done to restore your jewelry’s whiteness and shine if needed. White gold is an excellent setting for very white diamonds, colors D – I, as it greatly enhances their brilliance and sparkle. Another option in gold jewelry is “two-tone” jewelry, using both white and yellow gold side-by-side. It creates a striking effect and is very popular in ring settings and bracelets.
 
 

Care for your Gold Jewelry

Gold is durable and dependable. However, to keep your jewelry shining and scratch-free, store them in their original boxes, soft cloth bags, or a fabric-lined jewelry box. To prolong gold’s luster, keep your gold jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, and cleaning fluids. To clean gold jewelry, use a solution of mild soap and warm water and wash gently with a soft-bristled, non-metallic brush (like a dull toothbrush.) To dry and buff your jewelry once it’s cleaned, use a soft cloth that won’t leave threads or fuzz behind. Do not use paper towels. 
 

Platinum

Platinum, like gold, has a long and distinguished history and remains one of the world's most rare metals. The annual worldwide production of platinum amounts to some 160 tons, compared to about 1500 tons of gold. It can only be found in very few regions of the world - South Africa being the leading platinum-producing country. Platinum is far more valuable than gold, and more expensive.

Platinum has become increasingly popular in recent years because of its beauty and durability. It has a rich, silvery-white color and a deep luster. It's unique cool white sheen makes platinum a popular choice for settings, as it accentuates the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond like no other. Platinum is often the precious metal of choice to produce the finest jewelry with the most valuable gems, as it is very tarnish and scratch-resistant.

The most appealing characteristic of platinum is its strength and durability - it is by far the strongest and most durable of the precious metals. Each time other metals are scratched or polished, a small amount of metal is lost. Eventually, prongs of yellow and white gold may wear down enough that they must be reinforced with more metal for safety. Not with platinum. It may scratch and leave a mark on the metal, but it will not chip or splinter easily. Platinum is actually an alloyed group of six closely related metals - platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. Today it is often alloyed with titanium and copper. Most platinum jewelry is 95% pure platinum mixed with 5% iridium, palladium, or ruthenium alloy for added strength. It can also be 90% pure platinum with 10% alloys. To guarantee its quality, each piece of jewelry should be stamped with "950 Plat" indicating 95% purity or "900 Plat" indicating 90% purity. Because of its purity, platinum is ideal for people who are allergic to other metals. It rarely causes a reaction.  
 

Care for your Platinum Jewelry

Unique to platinum, it may develop a patina (or gentle sheen) if worn daily. Many people like this look. However, if you prefer the original reflective finish a jeweler can polish it and restore the original shine. Soaking platinum jewelry in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal's luster. To keep your jewelry shining and scratch-free, store them in their original boxes, soft cloth bags, or a fabric-lined jewelry box. To prolong gold's luster, keep your gold jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, and cleaning fluids. 
 
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Related Links:

Certified Diamond Buying Guide 77057|  Diamond Carat Buying Guide |  Diamond Clarity Buying Guide |  Diamond Color Buying Guide |  Diamond Cut Buying Guide |  How to choose a Diamond |  Precious Metal Buying Guide