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Metals

Metals

The word metal most likely originates from the Greek word “metallon” or the Latin word “metallum”, both meaning "mine" or "metal". The earliest known use of metals dates from 6000BC, which became much common practice with the discovery of various metals such as Gold (6000 BC), Copper (4200 BC), Silver (4000 BC) and Lead (3500 BC). Metals are often classified as Ferrous (containing iron) and Non-ferrous, Base (those that oxidize and corrode easily) and Noble, Precious and Non-precious.

Precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum are widely used in jewelry making.
Gold (yellow, white and rose) is the most popular and most commonly used precious metal for jewelry. Its popularity stems from its rarity and alluring luster and from the fact that gold is not susceptible to rust, corrosion and tarnish. Pure gold is very soft and inappropriate for jewelry making, so it is mixed with other metals such as silver, zinc, copper and nickel for additional durability and hardness. Gold purity is expressed in carats or karats; 24K being the purest gold (99.9% pure). Other carats include 22K (91.7% pure), 18K (75% pure), 14K (58.3% pure), 12K (50% pure) and 10K gold (41.7% pure). The most frequent choice is 18K and 14K gold.

Yellow is the natural color of gold. White gold is a yellow gold alloyed with other white metals such as silver, zinc, nickel or platinum to make it white. Deemed by many as quite exotic, rose gold is reddish in color due to copper combined with gold.

Jewelry can be made entirely out of gold, or in combination with diamonds, gemstones and other metals. Gold Vermeil jewelry is made of sterling silver plated with gold. Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry is made of base metals, such as nickel or brass, coated with gold. Gold-filled jewelry is of slightly better quality in comparison to gold-plated jewelry whose gold coating tends to wear off easily.

Silver jewelry making has a long tradition, as it is equally lustrous as gold but more affordable. Similarly to pure gold, pure silver, also known as fine silver, has 999 purity and is unsuitable for jewelry due to its softness and high tendency to damage. Silver is thus alloyed with other metals for enhanced durability and hardness. Although prone to tarnish, Sterling Silver is the most popular alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. A cost-efficient, but quite inferior in quality, alternative to Sterling Silver is a Silver Plate, which is a base metal coated with a silver layer. Please note that despite the name Nickel Silver is not silver, but the alloy of zinc, copper and nickel without any silver at all.

Platinum is a white metal, silvery in appearance, thus resembling silver, but is more precious and more rare than both silver and gold. The heaviest, most endurable and most expensive jewelry metal, platinum was once discarded as undesirable impurity in silver. It was named “platina” or “little silver” by Spanish miners in Colombia. Platinum jewelry must have at least 95% platinum purity to be labeled as platinum, otherwise it is labeled as platinum alloy. Due to its hypoallergenic nature, platinum is most suitable for people with very sensitive skin. Platinum develops a patina over time due to everyday wear, which some consider to be the advantage that makes platinum jewelry even more compelling. This natural patina can be easily removed by gentle cleaning.

Other types of metal more rarely used for jewelry making are Palladium, Rhodium, Titanium, Tungsten, Copper, Brass and Nickel.

Platinum Durability

Due to its density, which is higher than that of gold, platinum is the strongest, heaviest and most durable precious metal, particularly suitable for everyday wear. Platinum’s long lasting durability and rich white color make it the perfect and most secure setting for diamonds and precious gemstones. As it is also the rarest of all precious metals, platinum is the symbol of powerful, everlasting and once in a lifetime love.

Platinum Color

Platinum is naturally and permanently white in color, unlike white gold whose white color comes from alloys and rhodium plating that needs to be renewed from time to time so white gold can stay white. Platinum is also tarnish resistant and hypoallergenic, which gives it a great advantage over other precious metals. Over time, platinum develops a nice natural patina whose special silky shimmer is desired by many.

Platinum Value

The high platinum value comes from its rarity; its presence is only 0.005 ppm (parts per million) in the Earth’s crust. It takes 10 tons of raw platinum to get one pure ounce of platinum. Each year, platinum is mined in quantities that are 15 times less than those of gold and platinum mines are only found in South Africa, Russia and North America. Platinum value is also related to its purity and its almost non-existent probability to wear down. Platinum jewelry usually contains 95% pure platinum and 5% of other metals or 90% pure platinum and 10% iridium. Platinum scratches do not result in metal loss, metal just shifts from one place to another, so platinum can be re-polished with minimum loss in metal weight.

Platinum Alloys

Here is the list of four platinum alloys most commonly used in jewelry:

1. Pt900/Ir - made of 900 parts platinum and100 parts Iridium
2. Pt950/Ir - made of 950 parts platinum and 50 parts Iridium
3. Pt950/Ru - made of 950 parts platinum and 50 parts Ruthenium
4. Pt950/Co - made of 950 parts platinum and 50 parts Cobalt

Gold

Gold is a precious metal in great demand, very strong, but also highly malleable. Gold is a good electrical and thermal conductor, not prone to tarnish, corrosion and rust. The purity of gold is measured by karats or carats (K or kt) and caratage denotes the percentage of pure gold in a particular gold alloy. Pure 100% gold is 24K, very soft, extremely malleable and highly prone to scratching and damage. Due to these characteristics, pure gold is unfit for jewelry making and is thus alloyed with other metals for increased hardness. Two most popular gold caratages include 18K (75% pure) and 14K (58.3% pure), although 22K (91.7% pure), 10K (41.7% pure) and 9K (37.5% pure) are also used.

Pavéb sells only 14K and 18K jewelry

Gold Color

The color of pure 100% gold is yellow. It is also the most popular and most widely used gold color. However, the color of gold can vary depending on the type of metal that is alloyed with pure gold. Apart from yellow, other colors of gold include white, rose, purple, green, gray and blue.

Pavéb sells 14K and 18K yellow, white and rose color gold jewelry

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is usually alloyed with copper and silver for increased hardness and endurance. 14K gold has a warm and bright yellow luster, whereas 18K gold has rich and deep yellow glow.

White Gold

White gold is the alloy of yellow gold and either silver, nickel, manganese or palladium in addition to rhodium plating. To ensure white gold keeps its uniform white color, rhodium plating renewal is advised from time to time. White gold usually consists of 90% yellow gold and 10% of nickel, while copper may be added to improve malleability.

Rose Gold

Rose gold is the alloy of yellow gold and copper. Depending on the amount of copper added, rose gold can vary from red to pink. 18K red gold consists of 75% yellow gold and 25% copper. 18K rose gold consists of 75% gold, 22.25% copper and 2.75% silver. Rose gold can acquire a yellowish tinge if no more than 15% zinc is added to the alloy of yellow gold and copper. The highest caratage for rose gold is 22K, which is also known as crown gold.