How to Choose Your Precious MetalTypes of Precious Metal Jewelry
Many people are talking about the US Money Reserve and for good reason. With the value of the US dollar in question, it's no wonder why consumers and investors alike are investing in precious metals. That's why purchasing jewelry is such a popular option: It's an investment in precious metals that you can wear!
A precious metal is a rare metallic element of high, durable economic value. Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, and have higher melting points than other metals. Economically, the precious metals have been historically important as currency, and remain important as investment commodities. The best-known precious metals are gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in jewelry. Other precious metals include the Platinum group metals, of which platinum, rhodium and palladium are used commonly.
Gold Purity (24k, 18K, 14K, 12K, 10K)
You'll find examples of pure gold jewelry, but pure gold is soft and isn't practical for daily wear. Other metals are mixed with it to make it more durable (and to lower its cost).
Adding other metals to the mix also allows metallurgists to change the color of gold. Palladium or nickel can be added to create white gold. Adding copper produces a rose or pink tint, while silver gives gold a greenish cast.
When metals are added to the gold the result is an alloy, a blended mixture of the metals that you can think of as a very expensive cake batter. Solid gold is a term that can be used to describe an item that's at least 10K (in the US) gold all the way through. Even though it's a gold alloy--18K, 14K, or anything down to 10K--it can be called solid gold. The word K stands for karat, the system used to describe the percentage of pure gold an item contains. The higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of gold in your gold jewelry.
European gold jewelry is marked with numbers that indicate their percentage of gold, such as:
The karat marking on your gold jewelry should be accompanied by a hallmark or trademark that identifies its maker. The item's country of origin might also be included. Solid gold is durable, so it is a better choice for jewelry you'll wear regularly. If you have allergies to nickel or other metals, choose items that have high gold content, such as 18K or 22K gold jewelry.
There are many ways to mechanically apply a coating of gold onto a much less expensive metal, reducing the item's cost. The thicker the layer of gold, the less likely it is to wear away easily and expose the metal underneath. Gold Filled Jewelry
Newer gold filled items have markings that indicate how much and what type of gold was used for the layer. A marking that says 1/20 12K G.F. means that the jewelry is at least 1/20th 12K gold by weight.
Gold Plated Jewelry
The gold layer in gold plated jewelry is typically thinner than the gold in gold filled jewelry, so it usually wears away more quickly. Plating is done in different ways. You might see terms such as gold washed used to describe a very thin layer of gold--one that won't be very durable. Gold filled or plated jewelry is suitable for jewelry that you wear occasionally. Everyday use would eventually diminish the gold layer, exposing the metal below, which might stain your skin or cause an allergic reaction. For pieces that will last a lifetime and beyond, buy the highest quality gold your budget allows.
Important features of gold jewelry
Unless you are a frequent jewelry buyer, you may feel uneasy about spending a significant amount of your hard-earned money on expensive jewelry. Even jewelry lovers at times are confused about the true value of gold jewelry. So what are the key factors to look at when purchasing gold jewelry? The value of a gold jewelry piece is comprised of karatage, gram weight, design, and craftsmanship (or quality).
Is the gold 10k, 14k, or 18k? While the difference in color may be subtle to the eye, there is a great difference in price. You can expect to pay more for higher karat gold jewelry. Always look for a karat hallmark stamped on the jewelry piece.
How many grams does the item weigh? This factor is very important because it shows how much gold is used to make the item. Generally, the higher the gram weight, the more expensive and stronger the jewelry is.
Design refers to the unique and intricate patterns, engravings, and finishes on gold jewelry. There are various finishes, like brushed, matte, and satin, which cost more than a regular polished finish. You can expect to pay a higher price/gram for decorative finishes, multiple gold colors, and new styles. In addition, any type of custom design work by hand increases the cost of the item significantly.
Today, most jewelry is manufactured by precision machines that adhere to strict quality standards. Still, most jewelry requires a jeweler's handiwork for its finishing touches. The key points to check are areas where the jewelry moves or where separate pieces join together. With proper care, a well-crafted piece of jewelry should last for years.