Let’s discuss the different metals commonly used in jewelry making.
Precious Metals in jewelry are Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium.
In 1855 aluminium was considered as such and was exhibited alongside of the French Crown Jewels. At the time it was more valuable than gold. In 1886 a new method of extracting the aluminium caused the price to fall and it was no longer considered a precious.
In today’s market Gold is the most expensive followed by Platinum, Rhodium, Palladium and then Silver. Gold and Platinum vary as to which is the most valuable depending on world conditions.
The karat weight of each metal can vary greatly. It is rare to find an artist using Platinum, Palladium or Rhodium, unless it is extremely high dollar jewelry, so I will cover Gold & Silver for now.
Precious Metals – Gold
Gold – 24K pure gold, 18K or 750 in Europe, 14k – 585, 12k – 417, 10k and lower in some countries. In the US 10K is the minimum “Gold” can be marked as gold. In Europe the number (750) stands for the percentage of gold to other metal.You rarely find jewelry in 24K gold due to it being extremely soft and not very durable to wear.
When you buy white gold it is an alloy with either palladium or nickel. If copper is added to the gold you have rose gold. When you add silver to gold you get a green gold. Even though these are not solid gold they can be called solid gold down to 10K.
Precious metals in jewelry include filled and plated golds. Gold filled is marked G.F. It should also be marked with the karat weight and percentage of gold. Such as 1/20 12K G.F. meaning it is 1/20 12K gold by weight. 1/10 12K G.F. is common & is only half the weight of 1/20 and does not wear well at all. The gold will wear off very quickly and show the under lying material.
Plated gold is just that. It has a thin layer of gold that has been plated on to a base metal. It wears more quickly than 1/10 Gold filled. I’ve seen plated gold wear off in a matter of days, it is not meant for daily wear.
When buying a piece of gold jewelry buy the highest quality you can afford, it will last more than a life time if cared for properly.