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  Jewelry Metals

 

Platinum-In recent years there has been a big call for jewelry made from platinum.  Platinum is extremely hard and therefore very durable, making it perfect for jewelry.  Platinum is naturally white so it doesn’t have to be coated to make it shiny.  However, it can develop patina over time.  Patina is the natural dulling and graying of metal. Some people actually like patina because it gives jewelry a vintage look.  But if you want the item to look as good and as shiny as it originally did then a simple cleaning with a soft soap and water followed by buffing with a soft cloth will do the trick. In the United States the platinum content is denoted by a hallmark (symbol stamped into the piece of jewelry) with either the letters PT or PLAT followed or proceeded by the content of the platinum in the piece.  The standard platinum amounts are 850, 900, 950 or 999.

 

Gold-Everyone knows what gold is but not everyone understands that different types and purity of gold used to make fine jewelry.  The most common gold purities used are 18k, 14k, and 10k gold. There are other karat percentages used outside of the United States but these are by far the most common.  Anything above 18k is too soft for jewelry making.  Anything below 10k are more likely to cause skin irritations.  (Even some 10k can cause skin irritations in sensitive people.) If an item is genuine gold you will either see the hallmark as the following:  18k or 750, 14k or 585, 10k or 417.  You may see a P after the hallmark but that doesn’t mean the item is plated or made of platinum.  The P stands for Plumb which is a way to say it was measured accurately. This is not as common as it was years ago but you still see it occasionally. 

Gold can come in multiple colors depending upon the amount of gold and other alloys that are included in the mix.  Most yellow gold is made by adding a little copper and silver to the naturally yellow gold.  White gold is made by adding white colored metals such as silver or nickel to the gold.  However, it is impossible to make it totally white so a layer of rhodium is used to coat the piece.  Eventually rhodium does wear off but it is very simple and usually relatively inexpensive to have it reapplied.  Rose gold, also called pink or blush gold, is made by adding copper to the gold.

 

Silver-Silver is a much more common metal than gold, which is why it is so much less expensive.  It is naturally white but like gold, is too soft to make jewelry without mixing with other metals, usually copper.  In order for silver to be considered sterling it must have 92.5 percent silver.  Silver will naturally tarnish or patina, just like platinum, so it is regularly coated with rhodium to help keep it shiny. Cleaning with soap and water and buffing with a soft cloth will restore shine to silver.

 

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