Sunday, February 8, 2009

Trinket Shopping (Part 2)

Yesterday, I posted some buying tips for those considering purchase a shiny object for their beloved, bethroved or hogtied as the case may be. Today, I'll continue on the topic of metal, their benefits and disadvantages.

Gold has since ancient times represented wealth, prosperity and love. It is a very soft metal in it purest form of 24kt. Easily shaped, engraved and also deformed, hence very rarely will you find any jewelry made in it's 24kt form. Most people associate gold items with 14kt and rightly so, as it is the best balance of gold with other metals to give it durability. Also 18kt gold is popular with the high end and designer pieces. The other common karat is 10kt.

Gold is actually a very common occurring element in the earth's crust, easily extracted from it's ore and easily formed into any shape you can imagine. Currently gold prices are at an almost historic high and like any commodity fluctuates. It is much more expensive than silver, and about a third of the cost of platinum.

Never purchase anything under 10kt, as there is less gold and you are actually paying a gold price for the metals it's mixed with. Gold plate anything is to be avoided. The thin layer of gold will eventually wear away and all that is left is the base metal of copper or brass most commonly used. It can be replated but why bother? Ten karat gold is around 25% actual gold content. It is also stronger because of that than 14kt, 18kt, 22kt or 24kt. It's a good choice budget wise and also for a piece of jewelry such as a ring that will see a lot of wear or potential abuse.

Fourteen karat gold is very serviceable and widely available. It contains about 50% gold content. Most everything you see in a jewelry store is 14kt. It is also available in colors other than yellow. White gold has become very popular recently. The draw back to that is, unless it is an antique piece made before WWII, it will slowly turn yellow with everyday wear. It is a rhodium plating that gives it the color. An inexpensive way of doing so. Be prepared at some point to have it buffed and replated. The older pieces were made with palladium, not by upping the nickel content and plating and provides a life time of color change to the gold. Also available is pink gold, by upping the copper content, it won't change colors, and black gold which is also a plating of black rhodium.

Eighteen karat and above pieces will have a deeper golden hue because of the 75% or more gold content. At this karat you are actually getting more of what you pay for. The same rules apply for colored golds as before. I recommend this for special occasion rings or bracelets, that won't see a lot of wear, or necklaces. Being higher in gold content also makes these pieces softer. A deep scratch on an 18kt gold ring, and you lose metal. As a result, they will require more buffing and polishing to be kept looking their best.

Lastly, is platinum. It is a very hard metal, also very rare and difficult to extract from it's ore. Hence its expensive price. It is used in it's pure form and rhodium plated to give it the bright shiny white look. Platinum is actually more of a dull grey metal on it's own. As an example of it's rarity, I always used this example with my customers. If you placed all the gold ever mined in an Olympic sized pool, it would fill three. Platinum, on the other hand, would barely be ankle deep in just one. A deep scratch on a platinum ring and the metal only parts with no loss. Like dragging your finger across icing on a cake.

1 comment:

Ray's Cowboy said...

Very good. You are on the right track. Also the higher the gold mostly 18k the better the stones are as well. Since this is my first love is making jewerly.

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