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A GUIDE TO PRECIOUS METALS

Gold and Platinum are two of the most prestigious and sought-after materials used in jewellery. 18ct gold combines durability with the classic luster making it ideal for crafting beautiful and long-lasting pieces. Platinum 950, is renowned for its exceptional strength, brilliant white sheen, and hypoallergenic properties. These qualities make both 18ct gold and platinum highly valued in the creation of fine, luxurious jewellery.

What is a precious Metal?

Gold and platinum are considered precious metals due to their rarity, high economic value, and unique properties. Gold is prized for its distinct yellow lustre, malleability, and resistance to corrosion, making it ideal for jewellery and investment. Platinum, even rarer than gold, boasts a brilliant white sheen, exceptional durability, and hypoallergenic qualities, making it perfect for fine jewellery. Both metals maintain their appearance and integrity over time, contributing to their enduring value and desirability. However, as we’ll explore, either metals in their purest form are rarely used in jewellery.
The purity of precious metal is known as ‘metal fineness’. It is typically expressed in parts per thousand, indicating how many parts out of a thousand is pure metal. For example, a gold piece with a fineness of 750 means it is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals. This measure helps determine the quality, value, and durability of the metal, with higher fineness indicating higher purity and typically higher value. Metal is hallmarked to guarantee its quality, origin, and compliance, ultimately safeguarding both consumers and the integrity of the precious metals market.

Hallmarks & Guarantees

Precious metals are hallmarked in the UK to provide consumers with assurance regarding the quality and authenticity of the metal they are purchasing. The hallmarking process, which has been a legal requirement in the UK since the 14th century, involves independent assay offices verifying the purity of the metal through rigorous testing. This hallmark, stamped onto the item, serves as a guarantee of its fineness and ensures compliance with legal standards. Moreover, it provides valuable information about the manufacturer and the year of hallmarking, enhancing transparency and traceability in the precious metal market. Ultimately, hallmarking plays a crucial role in upholding consumer confidence, safeguarding against fraud, and preserving the integrity of the British jewellery industry.
Gold is renowned for its exceptional malleability, ductility, and resistance to corrosion and tarnish. It has a distinct yellow lustre and does not oxidise in air or water. It is used primarily in jewellery, and as a monetary standard in the form of coins and bullion. Gold is relatively rare in the Earth's crust, making it valuable and sought after, and its cultural and historical significance as a symbol of wealth and status further enhances its value. However, because pure 24-carat gold is a malleable metal, gold in its purest form is rarely found in jewellery. ​​The reality is that this precious metal is too soft to be crafted into wearable pieces, let alone capable of securely holding a diamond, and so gold is commonly alloyed with other metals to enhance its strength and durability. 18-carat gold, a popular choice in jewellery making, is an alloy composed of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals. This blending of metals imparts distinct characteristics to the gold, altering its colour, hardness, and malleability. While 24-carat gold represents the purest form of the metal, making lower carat alloys like 18-carat gold more suitable for everyday wear.

The alloying of gold serves not only functional purposes but also aesthetic ones. By varying the proportions of other metals in the alloy, jewellers can create a spectrum of hues, from the warm tones of rose gold to the cool elegance of white gold. Additionally, alloys can imbue gold with greater resilience, ensuring that cherished pieces withstand the test of time and retain their lustre for generations. Thus, while the concept of purity may evoke images of unblemished brilliance, the reality is that the artistry and craftsmanship of alloying precious metals elevate their beauty and utility, making them enduring symbols of elegance and refinement.

What is a ‘Carat’ and what does it mean?

Historically, the term "carat" derived from the Greek word "keration," which referred to the carob seed which were believed to have a uniform weight, making them a reliable measure in ancient trade.
Over time, the ‘carat’ became standardised to represent 1/24th of the total weight of a gold alloy. Today the purity of the Gold alloy is measured in the much more accurate ‘parts per thousand’ by an independent assay office where they hallmark the metal accordingly, but the tradition of referring to carat to denote the purity of specifically gold has withstood the test of time.

Book a consultation

We also offer free no obligation virtual or in-person appointments at our showroom in Hessle near Hull. At this appointment we can go through your ideas and help you to create the perfect piece of jewellery within a budget you are happy with. 

Please select a location you'd like to make an appointment.

Consultation in Hull

virtual consultation

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