Metals Guide

Platinum

Platinum, the purest of metals at 95%, is a dense, malleable and precious metal resistant to corrosion and is incredibly hardwearing. As platinum is naturally silvery white in appearance, it does not require rhodium plating like white gold. Its wear and tarnish resistant characteristics make it highly suitable for fine jewellery. Platinum weighs over 1/3 more than 18ct Gold and because of its higher tensile strength it makes it difficult to mis-shape and so it is excellent for setting stones. Because of its purity it makes it an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin as it is hypo-allergenic.

Palladium

Palladium is a soft silver white metal that shares many qualities with Platinum. This strong and durable metal is 40% lighter than Platinum and is a naturally white metal meaning it never tarnishes or requires Rhodium plating unlike white Gold. Palladium has a similar price to 14ct Gold.

Yellow Gold

Gold is graded by carats (ct). The carat system for Gold, unlike diamonds, is a method of expressing the proportion of gold to other metals in a particular alloy. Pure Gold is 24ct. 18ct gold contains 18 parts of gold to 6 parts of other metals and is thus 75% pure Gold. 18ct Gold jewellery is hallmarked ‘750’.

White Gold

Gold is graded by carats (ct). The carat system for gold, unlike diamonds, is a measure of the purity of gold by weight. The carat measures the proportion of gold to other metals in a particular alloy. Pure gold is 24ct. 22ct gold contains 22 parts of gold to 2 parts of other metals, while 9ct gold contains 9 parts of gold to 15 parts of other metals.

White gold is achieved by combining pure gold with alloys such as silver and palladium. Traditionally, nickel was used in white gold; however, nickel is no longer used in most white gold today as nickel can cause allergic reactions in some wearers.

As the natural colour of white gold is a greyish colour, almost all white gold jewellery is plated with a metal called Rhodium, which is a member of the Palladium family of metals. Rhodium is used to brighten the colour of white gold. Rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear eventually, particularly on rings. It is a very common practice to have rings re-plated with Rhodium, and most local jewellers will offer this service.

Rose Gold

Gold is graded by carats (ct). The carat system for gold, unlike diamonds, is a method of expressing the proportion of gold to other metals in a particular alloy. Pure gold is 24ct. 22ct gold contains 22 parts of gold to 2 parts of other metals, while 9ct gold contains 9 parts of gold to 15 parts of other metals. Rose gold is the result of varying the proportions of copper and silver in the alloy, which results in a beautiful reddish hue.

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver and other metals, usually copper. Sterling silver is 925 parts per thousand Silver with the remaining 75 parts being other metals. As pure silver is generally too soft for manufacturing into larger objects and for everyday wear, copper is generally used to give it strength while at the same time preserving the ductility of the metal and its beauty.

Vermeil / Gold-plate

Vermeil is a combination of Sterling Silver with a layer of gold on top. To be considered vermeil, the gold must be at least 10ct and be at least 1.5 micrometres thick. Any other metal plated onto Sterling Silver cannot be called vermeil. Vermeil can be produced by fire gilding or electrolysis. Fire gilding is an antiquated process, however, and most vermeil these days is produced by way of electrolysis. Vermeil is a French word, now commonly used in the English language mostly in America. It became a popular term in the 19th century as an alternative to the term silver-gilt.