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Precious Metals Learning Guide
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Last Updated
4th of July, 2009

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Gold Quality

The purity of gold is measured in karats. Pure gold measures 24 karats but is too soft in this state to be used effectively in jewelry. So it is alloyed with other metals--silver, copper, nickel, and zinc--to increase its strength and durability. Common measurements once the alloy is added are 18 karat (75% gold), 14 karat (58%), and 10 karat (47.7%). In the United States, the legal karat limit for the metal to still be considered gold is 10 karats. A higher karat measurement in gold content indicates a greater value of the jewelry piece. Gold jewelry should always be stamped with the karat mark, either 18k, 750 (European marking for 18k), 14k, 585 (European marking for 14k), or 10k. In addition, to assure its quality, the piece should be stamped with the manufacturer's trademark or country of origin.

Gold Color

Yellow gold is the most common color and is usually alloyed with silver and copper. Yellow and white gold are similar in strength and malleability, making them perfect for jewelry that is worn daily. White gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc--and while it looks similar to platinum, it has vastly different properties. Rose-colored gold is alloyed with copper and is often used to accent white or yellow gold. The saturation of color varies from piece to piece and according to gold content.

Gold Care

To keep gold shining and scratch-free, avoid contact with chlorine and other harsh chemicals. Do not wear jewelry during rough work and be sure to store it in a fabric-lined jewelry box or pouch. To clean gold jewelry, use warm water, a mild soap, and a soft bristled brush, if needed.


Silver Quality

Pure silver is soft and easily damaged. To give it more durability when creating jewelry, it is combined with copper, which makes it sterling silver. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, but this alloy does not have an effect on the value of the metal. To ensure that the silver is high quality, jewelry should be stamped with a quality mark. According to federal law, the mark must be accompanied by a registered trademark or maker's mark. Acceptable marks for silver include: sterling, sterling silver, ster, .925.

Silver Care

Silver should not come into contact with harsh household chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or chlorine. To avoid scratches, store silver in a jewelry box or pouch. Silver tends to tarnish as it reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the air. Cleaning and wearing it regularly will help maintain its shine and prevent this. Immediately upon noticing discoloration, use a polish made specifically for removing tarnish.


Platinum Quality

Platinum is the most durable of fine jewelry metals. It does not chip or splinter easily, making it perfect for diamond and gemstone settings. It is similar in color to white gold, but compared side by side, the difference is clear. Platinum jewelry is usually 95% pure platinum with 5% iridium or palladium alloy. It can also be 90% pure platinum with 10% iridium or palladium alloy. To guarantee its quality, each piece should be stamped with a 900 Plat to denote 90% platinum or a 950 Plat or Plat mark to denote 95% platinum.

Platinum Care

Cleaning platinum jewelry with mild, soapy warm water should be sufficient to maintain the metal's shine and polish. As with other fine jewelry, it should be stored in a fabric-lined box. Do not wear platinum while doing rough work, and avoid contact with harsh chemicals. If platinum becomes scratched or a patina begins to develop, a jeweler can restore the original shine.

Karat Platinum™


Karat Platinum™ and 14 Karat Platinum® are brand names for an exclusive platinum alloy of 58.5% pure platinum combined with 41.5% cobalt and copper. This remarkable platinum is indistinguishable in beauty, luster, and durability from 95% platinum. Its unprecendented flexibility allows the creation of a full line of elegant jewelry at a fraction of the cost of conventional platinum.

Since Karat Platinum™ is platinum it looks, feels and has the same radiant sheen as 950/50 platinum. In rigorous laboratory corrosion and abrasion tests designed to check for tarnishing, Karat Platinum™ actually outperformed conventional 950/50 platinum, emerging from the tests without colorations or stains. Like conventional platinum, Karat Platinum™ is hypoallergenic and ideal for those with sensitive skin.


Karat Platinum™ is identical in color to 950/50 platinum and brighter than white gold. A major difference is that white gold achieves its whiteness through an alloy or plating process, and it may need replating to retain its color. Karat Platinum™ is a natural white metal that maintains its luster and beauty forever.


Cleaning Karat Platinum™ jewelry with mild, soapy warm water suffices to maintain the metal's shine and polish. As with other fine jewelry, it should be stored in a fabric-lined box. Do not wear platinum while doing rough work, and avoid contact with harsh chemicals. If platinum becomes scratched or a patina begins to develop, a jeweler can restore the original lustrous surface.


Visitor Comments
  1. Comment #1 (Posted by Vina )
    Thanks for introducing a ltitle rationality into this debate.
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