Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Guide to Precious Metals in Jewellery


Gold has been used to make jewellery for thousands of years.  It’s an ideal metal to be used in gold as it won’t tarnish, corrode or rust - giving the name ‘noble metal’.  It’s also very easy to work into different shapes making it ideal to make incredibly intricate and fine jewellery.

The purity of gold is measured by carat, with 24 carat being the most pure and yellow coloured in its pure form. Gold is a soft metal so when being made into jewellery is mixed with other materials to make it harder and more suitable for wear. When doing so it can then be used to make fine antique jewellery from gold earrings to gold necklaces.

White Gold

White gold is made by mixing pure gold with other metals and then giving the jewellery a rhodium plating which gives it a hard white surface.  When it comes to white gold rings the metal mixed to make the item can make it either hard which is ideal for wedding bands, or can be softer making them more suited to gemstones.

White gold is becoming more popular, a possible explanation for this is the popularity of gemstone set jewellery which white gold can be more suited to than yellow gold, which can affect the colour of the stone.


Similarly to gold, silver has been used to make jewellery for thousands of years and is often mixed with other metals to make it more durable - though purity isn’t measured by carat. Sterling silver is a common variety and is made of 7.5% copper and 92.5% silver. Silver is different from gold in that it can achieve a more brilliant polished finish, making it a very popular choice for antique and vintage jewellery.


Platinum is a grayish-white metal that, like gold, is very resistant to corrosion and tarnishing making it ideal for fine jewellery. Platinum is extremely rare (approximately 30 times rarer than gold) and can command double the price of fine gold jewellery, its price changing with availability. It has been used to make fine jewellery for centuries and its extreme hardness makes it fantastic for setting diamonds.
Palladium is another grayish-white metal and is a good alternative to platinum and white gold. It’s extremely white, meaning unlike white gold it doesn’t need to be plated to produce a lustrous bright finish. Palladium has become more common as an alternative to other precious metals for fine jewellery since it started being used as a core metal by jewellers in the early 20th century. Palladium has continued to rise in popularity with the rise in price of gold and platinum.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own fine jewellery, browse pieces from independent accredited jewellers on Libertons.