Education - Precious Metal Guide


Precious Metal Guide - Precious Metal Buying Tips

A precious metal is a metal with rare metallic chemical element and due to that is of high economic value. Precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, and have higher melting points than other metals.
Before buying precious metal jewelry, it is advisable to get some knowledge, about various precious metals and their characteristics. You can get detailed information on each and every aspect of all the three precious metals in our precious metal guide.
Precious Metal Buying Tips
These below mentioned precious metal buying tips will certainly help you in finding the most suitable precious metal for your jewelry, you are looking for.
  • Gold, platinum and silver metals are widely traded and considered as precious metals due to their rarity and beauty.

  • When you go out to buy precious metal jewelry, you must consider certain facts, about these metals, such as karat, color, design, craftsmanship etc.
Precious Metal - Gold
  • Gold is an extraordinary and rare precious metal. Gold is a soft, highly malleable and most non-reactive of all metals and it does not rust or tarnish under ordinary conditions.

  • Gold's purity is measured in karats and 24 karat (24K) is 100 % pure gold. Pure gold is very soft and pliable as well as it is more expensive and less durable than gold that is alloyed with other metals.

  • To give strength and durability, gold is alloyed with metals like silver, copper, nickel and zinc. Usually in jewelry, alloyed gold of lesser karats (22K-10K) are used instead of 24K pure gold. Gold jewelry with 14K and 18K gold are highly recommended and most popular.

  • Naturally gold comes in deep yellow color with metallic luster but when it is alloyed with certain metals then it creates various color hues like white, pink/ rose, green and the seldom found blue, purple and black.

  • Raw, un-worked gold pricing is based on the karat ratio and the gold weight. But in finished jewelry or decorative item, gold pricing is based on a number of factors, including karat ratio, gram weight, design and craftsmanship.
Buying Tips for Gold
  • When buying gold jewelry, it is advisable to go for either 14 karat or 18 karat gold jewelry. You should never buy 24 karat gold jewelry because it is too soft, less durable and more expensive. You should also avoid buying less than 10 karat gold jewelry, as it appears dull. In USA, no jewelry item can be marked or sold as gold jewelry that contains less than 10 karat gold.

  • When you buy gold jewelry, you should always look for the karat mark that appears on the back of the piece. Other than this karat mark, every gold piece should also be stamped with a hallmark or trademark of its manufacturer and sometimes its country of origin. This description will assure you about the authenticity of the gold jewelry.

  • When buying gold jewelry, you should determine the best suitable gold color.

  • When you buy gold-filled jewelry, you must ensure that jewelry should have a layer of at least 10-karat gold as well as gold must be at least 1/10 of the total weight of metal.

  • In the same manner, when you buy gold plated jewelry, you must ensure that jewelry should have a layer of at least 10-karat gold as well as gold must be at least 1/20 of the total weight of metal.

  • You should not be confused between ‘solid gold’ and ‘pure gold’. Solid gold refers to a piece that isn’t hollow whereas pure gold refers to a piece that contains 24 karat pure gold.
Precious Metal - Platinum
  • Platinum is an extremely rare metal, even rarer than gold and due to its rarity, it is also an expensive metal.

  • Platinum is a strong and dense metal that comes into its beautiful grayish white to silver gray luster.

  • Platinum’s purity is expressed differently than gold. Instead of expressing purity in ratios of 24 parts, platinum standards are expressed as units of a 1,000 parts.

  • In fine jewelry, platinum is used with purity level 90% to 95% because it is largely hypoallergenic and tarnish-resistant. Only for the remaining 5% to 10 %, it is alloyed with copper and titanium to increase the beauty of metal.

  • Platinum jewelry maintains its color, brilliance and weight even when scratched, while other metals may lose their luster or become blemished or discolored.

  • Platinum is normally not used in the full range of jewelry products due to its higher price. It is mainly used in ladies engagement rings, ladies wedding rings and men's wedding rings.

  • Raw, un-worked platinum pricing is based on its purity and weight. But in finished jewelry, platinum pricing is based on a number of factors, including purity, weight, design and craftsmanship.
Buying Tips for Platinum
  • When you buy platinum jewelry, you should always look for the purity description that appears on the back of the piece.

  • Metal piece that contains at least 950 out of 1000 parts of pure platinum can be marked or stamped simply platinum or pt. or plat.

  • Metal piece that contains at least 850 out of 1000 parts of pure platinum can be marked or stamped with actual parts of pure platinum along with the word platinum or an abbreviation. For example, 950 platinum, 900 Plat. or 850 Pt.

  • Metal piece that contains less than 850 out of 1000 parts of pure platinum, but it has a total of 950 out of 1000 parts of platinum group metals (of which at least 500 parts is pure platinum), can be marked with both, the actual parts of pure platinum and the actual parts of the other platinum group metals in the piece. For example, the marking ‘650 Plat. 300 Irid.’ means that the piece has 650 out of 1000 parts platinum (65%), and 300 out of 1000 parts iridium (30%), totaling 950 out of 1000 parts of platinum group metals, and 50 out of 1000 parts of other alloyed metals (5%).

  • When you buy platinum jewelry, you should always remember that platinum is a very tough and strong metal and resizing is difficult for platinum items.

Precious Metal - Silver
  • Pure silver is very soft metal with its lustrous white color. It is the second brightest reflector metal after liquid mercury and can be polished to a high sheen that even platinum can't achieve. It is normally stable in pure air and water but tarnishes when exposed to ozone, hydrogen sulfide or sulfur.

  • The price of silver metal is very low and affordable as compared to other precious metals. Silver is currently about 1/50th the price of gold by mass.

  • Instead of expressing purity in ratios of 24 parts like gold, purity of silver is expressed, like platinum, as units of a 1,000 parts. Silver with 999 parts (99.9%) purity is considered as pure or fine silver.

  • Pure silver is too soft to be used in jewelry that it is normally alloyed with copper to give it strength and durability. A mixture of 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of copper is known as Sterling Silver. Whereas a mixture of 90% pure silver and 10% metal alloy is known as Coin Silver. Silver from south of the border is sometimes marked as Mexican silver, which consists purity ranges from 90% to 99%.
Buying Tips for Silver
  • When you buy silver jewelry, you should always look for the purity description. You will usually find constant purity in silver items and you should not worry much about purity aspect of silver.

  • Metal piece that contains at least 925 out of 1000 parts (92.5%) of pure silver can be marked or stamped simply silver or sterling silver on the back of that metal piece. According to the law, quality marked silver or sterling silver must also contain the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark.

  • When you buy a jewelry item or silver item, which is marked with silver-plated or silver-coated, you must ensure that it is coated or plated a layer of pure silver by process of electroplating on a base metal.

  • When an item of sterling silver metal is coated or plated with gold by process of electroplating then that item or piece will be marked as vermeil.

  • Usually most jewelers can easily resize a non-gemstone silver piece, plus or minus two sizes. But resizing a silver piece with a gemstone can be difficult due to silver's properties when heated.

  • When you buy sterling silver, you should always remember that it might tarnish and discolor very easily because silver and copper both react readily with sulfur to form sulfides.
General Buying Tips
  • When you buy a jewelry piece, you must ensure that there are no visible blemishes or imperfections on the metal. You should also check to make certain that fasteners, clasps and catches work properly and are secure.

  • When buying jewelry, you should look for craftsmanship and design. Your decision should be based on its symmetry, overall appearance and finishing.

  • When you are buying jewelry for your loved ones, always keep their personality and preferences in mind.

  • Always buy precious metal jewelry from a reputed and a known jeweler. If you don’t know any good jeweler, you should ask your family members or friends for their recommendations.

  • Beware of jewelry store lighting that usually consists of quartz or halogen bulbs. These can deceive as they blast high-intensity streams of light into goods to make them look different.

  • While buying precious metal jewelry, you should not be in hurry or in pressure. You should buy it at your convenience and at your own pace.
Now you can go ahead to buy precious metal jewelry with more confidence. So enjoy buying the best suitable precious metal jewelry by keeping the above mentioned buying tips in mind.


 
 
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