A Precious Metals Guide

Elvis Elvis

The following is a brief precious metals guide to the most commonly known, silver, gold, white gold, blue gold, and the platinum group of precious metals.

Silver has been used to make jewellery for centuries. In it’s pure state it is too soft, and needs to be mixed with other metals, commonly copper. Below are examples of different silver grades.

  • 800 – contains 80% silver and 10% copper
  • 950 – contains 95% silver and 5% copper
  • 925 – contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper

Sterling silver is 925, is a most affordable precious metal, and it’s reflective qualities make for beautiful gifts of jewellery, especially for children’s jewellery as for example Christening bracelets.

The Ancient Incas believed the moon shed tears of silver.

Gold in it’s pure form is also too soft for jewellery, and is usually mixed with copper or silver to make it stronger. This can also change the colour of the gold resulting in different shades. It is sold by weight in grams. The heavier the item the higher the gold content, and the more expensive. Vermeil is a gold plated sterling silver.

A Precious Metals Guide

Carat or Karat refers to the percentage of pure gold the item contains. Below are examples of different gold grades.

  • 9ct or 9kt – contains 37.5% gold
  • 10ct or 10kt – contains 41.7% gold
  • 14ct or 14kt – contains 58.5% gold
  • 18ct or 18kt – contains 75% gold
  • 24ct or 24kt – contains 100% gold

Ancient Alchemists believed gold gave immortality, and the Ancient Incas believed gold was the sweat of the sun. Gold has been used as a currency for thousands of years.

White Gold is an alloy of gold and nickel, sometimes containing palladium or zinc. It’s these metals which give the gold a pale or white colour. White gold is very popular for wedding rings.

Blue Gold is an alloy of gold and metals containing iron, which results in a bluish tinge.

Platinum is a precious metal typically strengthened with other metals for making jewellery such as osmium, iridium or nickel. It is not measured in carats, but is stamped with a platinum quality mark, indicating the percentage of platinum.

PT1000 – pure platinum USA – PT or PLAT Europe – 950 or PT950

Palladium is quite rare, and a soft silvery white precious metal. When used in jewellery it is alloyed with yellow gold to create white gold.

Rhodium is a brilliant silvery white metal, used for plating on platinum and white gold to create a white very hard coating.

Ruthenium is a greyish white metal which has a high resistance to wear, and is used in the manufacture of jewellery.

Iridium is a white, brittle and very hard metal containing about 10% iridium and 90% platinum. As it is such a hard metal it is often used in making pen points and nibs, and surgical tools.

Osmium is a bluish white and brittle metal. Mixed with platinum it is used for making weights and measures.