Jewelry Metals: Silver, Gold & PlatinumJanuary 28, 2015
I love the word ‘alchemist’ because it conjures up of images of wizened Renaissance men in gaudy coloured clothes hunched over pots of base metals such as tin or lead and perhaps muttering incantations that will magically turn the base metals into gold. In today’s vernacular we might see them as con artists or swindlers perpetrating huge hoaxes on gullible chosen targets.
Or, when you break the word down you have chemist and therefore we might regard the Middle Ages alchemists as forerunners of today’s chemists who know that base metals are used as alloys to stabilize the precious metals of gold and platinum. I know nothing about chemistry or this process so will not attempt to explain it. instead, I want to focus on the so-called ‘noble’ or precious metals that require the addition of the more abundant and therefore much cheaper base metals to make them suitable for jewellery, coin, and other uses.
To many jewellery designers, retailers, and consumers silver has become the new gold. This switch or change of perception in promoting silver as the other luxury metal may be due to the high and ever increasing cost of gold or it may simply be that consumers want beautiful, unique pieces without gold’s high price tag. Price, though, is illusory because higher-end silver jewellery pieces have a price range of a few hundred dollars to several thousand. But silver, regardless of its beauty and the fact that it not only brightens one’s wardrobe and compliments every skin tone, is not for everyone, especially those who have a deep or strongly entrenched love of gold jewellery that they would never abandon for the new gold. I, on the other hand, prefer silver to all other metals because I love the look of it and believe it looks its absolute best when set with emeralds, pearls, a morganite, or even paired with rose gold for a truly stunning effect.
But for silver to lose its runner-up status where it has languished far took long and join the ranks of the precious metals category fashion has to be on board because fashion is the catalyst for change both in clothing and jewellery trends. The best example of which to prove the point was that which occurred during the Edwardian era when the strict colours of mourning dictated by Queen Victoria were replaced by brighter, more attractive pastel colours both in ladies’ fashions and jewellery choices or preferences.
Nowadays, we have choices as to colour whether yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, green gold, and brown gold. While all are beautiful I lean more towards rose gold and white gold – the latter being obvious because of my love of silver – but I must admit to not being sure about brown gold mainly because I’m not fond of brown. But that comment, true as it is, needs clarification because I quite like brown diamonds set on rose gold and, in place of silver, emeralds set on white gold. Brown gold, though, in case you haven’t head of it until now, is unique because it did not come from the earth but was developed or created in an Ottawa lab in 2009 by a smart chemist (like harking back to a Renaissance alchemist).
Its creator promises that this new gold will never lose its colour or wear out because the brown colour was not just applied to the surface but added to and blended with the gold to thoroughly permeate through the entire piece of metal. As well, this new type of gold is said to be suitable for all types of manufacturing, whether jewellery, coins, and/or other metallic objects.
If you’re thinking luxury in a metal you are most definitely thinking of platinum because it is not only breathtakingly beautiful but it rivals and even exceeds the price of gold by about 20%. The purity factor of platinum versus gold is also quite astonishing because platinum is 90-95% pure whereas gold is maximum 75% pure and it is this purity factor that further solidifies or enhances platinum’s luxury label. Not so long ago platinum was out of reach for most people because it was 200% higher than gold with an ounce of the beautiful metal costing a prohibitive $2,252 but in early 2008 market and other forces – e.g. declining demand from the auto industry – sent platinum into a tailspin reducing its price per ounce to approximately half of its former cost.
So now at 20% higher than gold platinum has finally become a metal of choice for engagement and wedding rings mainly because it is the perfect metal for a diamond setting because its pure white colour accentuates the stone’s sparkle and brilliance without reflecting any colour in it. Platinum is also more durable than gold and – my opinion only – a lot more alluring than gold, especially yellow gold. As well, platinum is hypoallergenic meaning almost everyone can wear it even close to the skin without an adverse or allergic reaction.
A word of caution, though, if you’re thinking of platinum jewellery, you need to first talk to Joe or Monika at LL Private Jewellers who know all the pros and cons of platinum and its suitability for certain pieces or which metal to use for a particular purpose and you can trust them to tell you the truth about rhodium electroplating, which is commonly used by many North American jewellery manufacturers to give the metal its attractive white colour.
For more information please contact LL Private Jewellers 604-684-6343