Precious Metal – Choose Your Metal for Engagement Rings & Wedding Rings
When purchasing an item of gold jewellery, always look for a carat mark which should be stamped on the piece of jewellery. This is a quality mark and refers to the proportion of pure gold in the item. Pure gold, which is 24 carat, the metric equivalent being 1000, is generally considered too soft for practical uses in jewellery and is alloyed with other precious and base metals to increase its durability. Some of the common markings found on gold jewellery, with their metric equivalent are:
|22ct or 916||18ct or 750||14ct or 585||9ct or 375|
There is no legal requirement in Australia for an item of jewellery to be stamped. However, for example, if the item is sold as being 9ct (375) if it were to be tested it must be 9ct (375).
The uniqueness of gold
Of all the world’s precious metals, only gold combines the four basic characteristics that make it a universally and eternally treasured possession – lustrous beauty, rarity, durability and workability.
Lustrous beauty. The naturally intense colour and distinctive lustre of gold combine to give this precious metal its unique and lasting beauty. This beauty is further enhanced by the soft and exquisite shades of colour achieved by combining it with small amounts of other precious and base metals to make an alloy. The many colours of gold include yellow, white and pink (or commonly known as rose). All are beautiful in their own right and in combination.
Rarity. Although gold is everywhere around us – in the Earth’s crust, in the seas, rivers and plants – the difficulty and expense of obtaining it makes recovery of any substantial amounts unlikely. Where gold is found to exist, as it does in several regions of Australia, several tonnes of ore may be required to be mined to extract just one ounce of gold. This rarity alone is enough to bestow a certain symbolism and status to gold and, when combined with its other inherent characteristics, it becomes an even more desirable possession.
Durability. Gold virtually lasts forever. It does not rust, tarnish or corrode. An example of its incredible durability is evident in the gold coins found in galleons sunk centuries ago. Each coin is as bright and shiny as the day it was made.
Wearability. Gold has the best working qualities of any metal, making it the ideal precious metal for fine jewellery. It is so soft and malleable that one ounce can be stretched into a wire an incredible 80 kilometres long or hammered into a sheet so thin it covers well over nine square metres and becomes transparent. It is this workability that enables it to be alloyed with other precious and base metals to produce special qualities or to achieve variations of colour. Gold can be remelted and used again and again, with some exceptions, and it can be made into a vast array of jewellery items. From the most intricate baby bracelet to the heaviest chain, gold’s workability gives it the ability to exist in a multitude of forms and shapes.
Gold jewellery can be purchased with an oxidised, antique look. The best way to preserve and encourage the ‘antique’ look of gold jewellery is to not clean the jewellery and by not wearing jewellery in the shower or bath.
Care and Storage of Gold Jewellery
Like all jewellery, gold should be periodically cleaned and checked for wear and breakages. You can clean it yourself with warm, soapy water but your JAA jeweller can repolish it and add that extra sparkle.
Cream and dip liquid polishes will most likely remove oxidation from your jewellery. They will also most certainly remove any decorative oxidation designs and patinas as well. It is best to keep these items free of dirt and grime through proper storage and the use of cleaning cloths.
Gold should be stored in a cool, dry place. Fine jewellery should be stored in separate compartments in a jewellery box or soft pouch. Never store gold jewellery in paper, cardboard or cotton filled boxes. For best result, place the items in a sealed airtight plastic bag or sulphur free tissue paper prior to boxing and wrapping.
Always take your gold jewellery off before applying moisturisers and other skin creams, sun screen, dyes, hairsprays and perfumes. Avoid the jewellery coming into contact with abrasive soaps, chemicals, detergents, bleaches, ammonia or alcohols as these chemicals will cause discolouration and damage.
Gold jewellery should always be removed prior to washing, bathing, doing dishes, household chores, strenuous activities, exercise, sport, swimming (both ocean saltwater or chlorinated pools), to prevent scratching, denting or loss of gemstones. Remove all jewellery before going to bed to avoid kinking or breakage.
“I can’t wear gold… it leaves a black mark”
They call it ‘the mystery of the gold smudge’. Under normal conditions gold won’t tarnish or corrode but there are generations of stories about ‘not being able to wear gold’. Research into the ‘gold smudge’ has revealed five basic reasons why gold can sometimes leave a black mark or a rash.
- Sometimes skin secretion and perspiration contain chemicals which react with the molecules of other metals in the gold alloy. This can happen when changes occur in body chemistry, for example pregnancy.
- Outside chemical influences, such as cosmetics, hairsprays and perfumes may sometimes be to blame for the ‘smudge’ – always allow these products to dry before putting on your jewellery.
- Air pollutants from industry may cause the ‘smudge’ which can rub off onto the skin when jewellery is worn.
- Minute particles of dust or powder may be embedded in the skin which can result in extremely small particles of gold alloy being rubbed off and left on the skin.
- The fifth and least likely cause may be an allergy to gold or one of the other metals in the alloy, such as an allergy to nickel which is commonly used in fashion jewellery and in some white golds.
A World War II favourite, white gold meant patriotism for that era’s marrying couples, when platinum was taken off the market for use in the war effort. Today, white gold offers precious affordability and fashionable fun, along with sturdy durability.
White gold is a more affordable yet still durable and precious alternative to platinum. It doesn’t tarnish like silver. But some rhodium plated white gold can ‘yellow’ over time and may need to be occasionally replated with rhodium.
White gold is yellow gold alloyed with white metals, this gives the metal a whitish appearance. The item is rhodium plated to give a bright, white finish. With any type of plating it will wear off over time. Depending on what the item is, a ring or a pair of earrings, will depend on how quickly the plating wears off. With rings, particularly engagements rings and wedding bands, they come into contact with many surfaces during a day’s wear. Maintenance of white gold is required every 6 to 12 months, again depending on the item and frequency of wear. Keep this in mind when purchasing white gold jewellery, as there are ongoing costs in maintaining the white gold sparkle.
When gold is alloyed with nickel, it can be allergenic to a small percentage of wearers who have skin allergies. In response, many refiners and manufacturers are now offering white gold that doesn’t contain nickel, and others are creating white gold alloys that are white enough to not need rhodium plating. Be sure to ask your jeweller about these newer alloys.
If you’re purchasing a rhodium plated item, inspect the piece to ensure that the plating completely covers it and is even.
White gold holds all the same properties as yellow gold, expect for the colour. Carat stampings are used in the same way for white gold as they are used for yellow gold.
Platinum – Pt / Plat
Pure, rare, eternal – these qualities set platinum apart. A favourite of famous jewellery designer Peter Carl Faberge and the metal of choice for “platinum blondes” in Hollywood’s heyday, this precious metal has enjoyed yet another surge in popularity in recent years, particularly among discriminating bridal buyers.
Platinum’s lustre complements the sparkle of diamonds and gems. Its finish can range from a bright polish to a soft matte texture.
Platinum’s strength assures you that your most precious diamonds and gems will be protected and secured. Platinum’s purity makes it hypoallergenic and thus the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. Platinum’s durability makes it ideal for wearing every day, as it sustains very little metal loss over a lifetime of wear. Some wearers of brightly polished platinum don’t like the “patina” platinum that naturally develops with time, but the shine can be restored with regular repolishing. Others may find platinum’s heaviness doesn’t suit certain styles, such as large earrings.
Silver – 925
Sterling silver consists of 92.5 parts pure silver and the remaining 7.5 parts are made up of alloys such as copper, nickel or zinc.
Sterling silver can tarnish. This is due to a reaction of the metal with sulphur containing oxygen particles in the air or because the item has been in contact with chlorine. Also note that taking certain medications can cause changes in skin acidity and may cause sterling silver jewellery to tarnish. Tarnish on sterling silver starts out as a yellowish/orange tinge and is most easily removed at this stage. Silver tarnish progresses to a blackish purple coating, known as oxidisation, becoming much more difficult to remove. The best way to prevent your sterling silver jewellery from tarnishing is to wear it as much as possible. The gentle friction from wearing and the contact of natural oils on the skin will likely keep your jewellery bright and sparkling. In the event that your sterling silver does tarnish slightly it is easily returned to its sparkling former glory by using warm water with a mild soap, rinsing well and drying thoroughly with a soft cloth or one of the specially designed jewellery cleaners available from your jeweller. Heavy tarnishing will require commercially available polishing creams or dip liquids. Use care with these types of jewellery cleaners, limiting the exposure of gemstones to silver cleaners as they may contain chemicals that can harm certain gemstones. Always rinse and dry jewellery thoroughly. Use a soft cloth to make sure no residual cleaner remains. Prolonged, unprotected storage is generally when tarnish occurs. To prevent sterling silver jewellery from tarnishing whilst being stored, store in a soft pouch in a cool, dry place.
Over time sterling silver will develop what is called ‘oxidation’, which is a result where by heavy tarnish builds up in the fine details of the sterling silver piece, giving it an antique look. Sterling silver jewellery can be purchased with an oxidised, antique look. The best way to preserve and encourage the ‘antique’ look of sterling silver jewellery is to not clean the jewellery and by not wearing jewellery in the shower or bath.
Care and Storage of Sterling Silver
Cream and dip liquid polishes will most likely remove tarnish and oxidation from your jewellery. They will also most certainly remove any decorative oxidation designs and patinas as well. Therefore, it’s best to keep these items free of tarnish through proper storage and the use of cleaning cloths.
Sterling silver should be stored in a cool, dry place. Fine jewellery should be stored in separate compartments in a jewellery box or soft pouch. Never store jewellery in paper, cardboard or cotton filled boxes, as these contain traces of sulphur, which may cause tarnishing. For best result, place the items in a sealed airtight plastic bag or sulphur free tissue paper prior to boxing and wrapping.
Always take your sterling silver jewellery off before applying moisturisers and other skin creams, sun screen, dyes, hairsprays and perfumes. Avoid the jewellery coming into contact with abrasive soaps, chemicals, detergents, bleaches, ammonia or alcohols as these chemicals will cause discolouration and damage. Silver is a relatively soft metal and can scratch so don’t scrub with abrasive cloths or cleansers.
Sterling silver jewellery should always be removed prior to washing, bathing, doing dishes, household chores, strenuous activities, exercise, sport, swimming (both ocean saltwater or chlorinated pools), to prevent scratching, denting or loss of gemstones. Remove all jewellery before going to bed to avoid kinking or breakage.