Precious Metal Guide
When deciding on a precious metal for your accessories, such as silver jewellery, it’s important to consult our online precious metal guide. This will help you decide which metal is best for your needs. You can learn the difference between 9kt and 18kt gold and how these compare to platinum or silver. Should you have further questions, please do contact us and we will be glad to assist you with any query.
Karats, noted by a number followed by "kt", indicates purity and is a measure of the percentage of gold to alloy contained in the jewellery. It is mixed with composites for extra strength. Metal stamped 24kt for example, meaning 24-karat, is considered pure and too soft to be used for jewellery. The more commonly used 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold. In South Africa the most common marks are 9kt or 18kt. However, in overseas regions 10kt and 14kt are very popular.
Yellow gold, capturing the metal's classic natural colour, is by far a favourite. Copper and silver are the alloys mostly used with it. You can essentially get yellow gold, white gold or both. The two are similar in strength and malleability, making them perfect for jewellery that is worn daily.
White gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc. While it looks similar to platinum, it has vastly different properties. If it is rose-coloured, it is alloyed with copper and is often used to accent white or yellow. The saturation of colour varies from piece to piece and according to the content.
The value of gold jewellery is based on several factors: fineness or karat count, weight in grams and the workmanship reflected in the piece. To keep it in good condition, store it away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine and cleaning fluids. This will reduce daily abrasions and prolong the metal’s lustre.
To clean gold jewellery, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap and wash gently with a soft-bristled brush (a dull tooth brush works well). Store pieces separately in soft cloth bags or original boxes to protect them from exposure to harsh elements.
Platinum is the most durable of fine metals. It does not chip or splinter easily, making it perfect for diamond and gemstone settings. It is similar in colour to white gold but, compared side by side, the difference is clear. It is usually 95% pure with the rest being 5% iridium or palladium alloy.
To care for this jewellery, soak it in a mild solution of soap and warm water. Gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal's lustre.
Pure silver is soft and easily damaged. To give it more durability when creating jewellery, it is combined with copper, which makes it sterling. This kind of metal is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, but this alloy does not have an effect on its value. Instead, the price is affected by the labour involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.
To minimise scratches and damage, store your silver either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewellery box. Avoid exposing it to your household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage the metal.
Silver tends to tarnish, as it reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the air. Cleaning and wearing it regularly will help maintain its shine and prevent this from happening. Immediately upon noticing discolouration, use a polish made specifically for removing blemishes.
This metal is light in weight (roughly a third the weight of gold) while at the same time being extremely hard, resistant to corrosion and hypoallergenic. It has only recently been used to manufacture jewellery, as opposed to its traditional usage in industry. Due to its strength, it is manufactured out of a block of solid metal and can therefore not be resized.
Titanium is available in many grades, sometimes alloyed with other metals for even greater strength. It is incredibly strong, but it may still show slight scratches. It can, however, be easily polished to keep it looking new.