Since records began, precious metals like gold, silver and platinum have long been seen as valuable and special.
Defined as a naturally-occurring rare element with high value, precious metals are notoriously more difficult to source and find than many other types of metals – this strongly contributes to their precious, high-value status.
But whilst all considered valuable in their own right, precious metals significantly differ in their characteristics.
Perhaps the most well-known of all precious metals, gold has been recognised for its high value throughout human history.
Commonly found within fine jewellery, gold is also used for decorative purposes and even in currencies. Shiny yellow in appearance and typically existing underground, it’s estimated that gold is being mined at a rate quicker than it’s being replaced – this increases its value and renders it as a metal in incredibly high demand.
In its purest form, gold has a distinctive yellow colour. In fact, pure gold is not recommended to be used in jewellery due to its soft texture. However, pure gold jewellery is still used in certain regions like China,
By being mixed with other metals like copper or silver, gold can be make more durable and wearable.
Such a mix not only alters the texture, but can also alter the colour too. Resulting in differing shades of yellow-toned gold, with rose gold and white gold also being produced.
The purity of gold is measured in karats, not to be confused with diamond carats. Perhaps the most common phrase associated with gold is 24 karat (999) – this signifies pure gold, with 24 karat jewellery typically being soft with maximum care required. 22 karat jewellery should also be worn with extra caution as, whilst not quite as soft as 24 karat, it’s still not considered particularly durable.
At a slightly lower purity, 18 karat (750) gold alloy is typically used for making exclusive jewellery. This is because it’s harder and more robust than 24 and 22 karat, but still maintains a high level of gold exclusivity for a truly luxury feel.
However, the most common form of gold used in jewellery is 14 karat (585), because it’s more affordable and considered very durable. And at a lower 9 karat (375) purity, this form is no longer considered actual gold – despite having some traces.
Considered to be one of the most precious elements on the entire planet, platinum is typically rarer than gold – 15 times rarer in fact! Similar in appearance to silver with a dazzling silver-white appearance, platinum is incredibly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing.
Better still, platinum is considered to be very durable. This makes it an ideal material for jewellery, as it doesn’t easily wear away, is strongly resistant to scratches and won’t fade or change colour over time.
Usually weighing up to 60% more than gold for a luxurious feel, the majority of platinum jewellery contains up to 95% pure platinum. One of the most precious and highly sought-after metals there is, platinum jewellery is something truly special.
925 Sterling Silver
Composed of 92.5% pure silver, 925 sterling silver is incredibly common in jewellery. Featuring a brilliant white appearance, silver was actually considered more valuable than gold in ancient Egyptian times. And today, silver is also used for a wide variety of industrial purposes too, making it an incredibly versatile precious metal.
100% silver is virtually impossible to be made into jewellery as it’s simply too soft, hence why the final 7.5% of is comprised of other metals to enhance its durability.
However, it’s important to remember that many jewellery items on the market claim to be made using 925 sterling silver – but are actually just stainless steel with a polished silver coating.
One of the best methods of identifying whether your 925 sterling silver jewellery is real is to use a magnet. If your jewellery is attracted to the magnet, it isn’t real 925 silver.