metals guide

 

gold | Au

Copper and gold are the only metals on earth which are not white or have any variations of grey in their colour. This then means that gold is the only precious metal on earth which is non-white. Fine gold (24ct) must be alloyed with other metals as it is too soft to work with or wear as jewellery on its own. Being alloyed with other metals will make it harder, denser and more durable. An alloy can be described as a mixture of two or more metals. In the field of jewellery, one refers to the other types of metals which are added to the “fine” metal as the alloy. Precious metals are alloyed for various reasons: Gold is alloyed for three reasons, to change the working properties and colour of the gold and to lower the cost of the metal. According to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), only four types of gold alloys are recognised within the country. These alloys include 9ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct.

Note: Don’t be confused with the word ‘carat’ being thrown around in the jewellery industry, the word has two different meanings. Carat can refer to the unit of measurement which indicates the weight of the gemstone or can indicate the proportion (by weight) of fine gold which is present in a specific alloy. The different colour gold will not be specified on your item but will be hallmarked with the following stamp.

9ct | 375   14ct | 585   18ct | 750

rose gold

Red and rose / pink colours in gold can only be achieved by adding silver and copper to the alloy (the only other non-white pure metal on earth).

yellow gold

In yellow gold alloys, the alloy added should preferably not have a big impact on the actual colour of the metal. The metal should stay as yellow as possible therefore are usually the combination of gold, copper and silver.

white gold

Within white gold alloys, the alloy added should preferably be as white as possible. A strong “bleaching” effect should be present on the yellow colour of the gold. White gold will be alloyed with Palladium and in some cases silver and Zinc. Nickel can also be used however many people are allergic to nickel, and although it is a very effective bleach, it is not often being used in white gold alloys anymore.

platinum | Pt

Platinum is a rare and expensive metal with properties that make it especially suitable for jewellery. It is a highly malleable, silvery-white metal, which is extremely resistant to oxidation and corrosion. It is also a very dense metal which makes the item 30% heavier than the same item in gold. The reason platinum is so expensive is because of the base metal price usually being more than gold (its density also adds to the price and this is due to the platinum used in jewellery is 95% pure whereas in gold it’s only 75% pure). Platinum gets hallmark either with its chemical element symbol or with the purity percentage quality that is used.

Pd | 950 | 999 | PLAT

palladium | Pd

Palladium is part of the platinum group metals and is a non-allergenic white gold alloy. Palladium was first used in jewellery when platinum was reserved for military use in the WW II in the 21st century.

Pd | 950 | 999

Silver | Ag

Silver is the most common of precious metals and has working qualities simular to gold. Silver is a soft metal that scratches easily and oxidises over time. Being soft, it is not used when setting diamonds. Silver is a natural white metal and cost effective therefore a fun and easy metal to work with. The silver used in jewellery is mostly referred to as sterling silver

Sil | Sterling | 925

titanium | Ti

Titanium is versatile, lightweight and strong, with a silvery‐white metallic colour. This metal is as strong as steel but is 45% lighter in weight, and is similar to platinum in its resistance to tarnishing. This metal has many uses ranging from armour plating, spacecraft and aircraft parts, to jewellery design. Titanium’s strength, durability, and lustrous beauty make it an ideal choice for gents jewellery, especially for rings and cufflinks that are subject to daily wear.

Each metal has its pros and cons, when it comes to gents rings most couples are hesitant to choose titanium due to its bad reputation of being difficult to cut open if something should happen to your finger. Though this is a con, the advantage of this metal is that it is very sturdy and strong that if your finger happens to be slammed in a door the strong nature of the metal would protect your finger, whereas with gold it will bend with ease and with tungsten the ring will break.

Ti | Titanium

tungsten | W

The name of this metal is derived from the Swedish words “tung sten” meaning “heavy stone.” Tungsten is very heavy with a steel grey to tin‐white colour and a lustrous finish. This metal has the highest melting point and the most tensile strength of all metals. Due to the hardness of this metal, the shine is not apt to fade as with other metals that must be polished. Tungsten also has natural hypoallergenic properties that make it perfect for use in jewellery making. These rings are usually hallmarked by its full name.

Tungsten | Tungsten Carbide