- Precious Metals
Jewelry and silverware are traditionally made from sterling silver (standard silver), an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. In the US, only an alloy consisting of at least 90.0% fine silver can be marketed as "silver" (thus frequently stamped 900). Sterling silver (stamped 925) is harder than pure silver, and has a lower melting point (893°C) than either pure silver or pure copper.
While silversmiths specialize in, and principally work silver, they also work with other metals, such as gold, copper, steel, and brass. They make jewelry, silverware, armor, vases, and other artistic items. Because silver is such a malleable metal, silversmiths have a large range of choices with how they prefer to work the metal. Historically, silversmiths are mostly referred to as goldsmiths, which was usually the same guild. In the western Canadian silversmith tradition, guilds do not exist; however, mentoring through colleagues becomes a method of professional learning within a community of craftspeople. Traditionally, silversmiths mostly made "silverware" (cutlery, tableware, bowls, candlesticks and such). Only in more recent times has silversmithing become mainly work in jewelry, as much less solid silver tableware is now handmade.
Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth - and it’s been a staple of fine jewelry for thousands of years. From Egypt and Ancient Greece as well as the Roman empire Gold has not only been used as the main metal in jewelry, decorative art such as sculptures but also as the most common measure of monnetary worth for trade.
Gold is the most soft and malleable of all the precious metals that a jeweler could work with. Gold jewelry may mixed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel and even palladium easily. These alloys work to increase the item’s overall strength, durability and to change the color. Gold purity is measured in karats. The purest gold is referred to as 24-K gold.
Additionally, gold is measured in 24 parts, which can help the consumer determine just how much gold is present in their jewelry. Following this unit of measurement, 18K gold is comprised of 18 parts gold and six parts other metals. This means that the piece of jewelry is 75% gold.
Platinum is one of the few precious metals that can be made into jewelry with a majority of its natural form; in fact, most platinum jewelry is made up of 95% and 90% platinum. Unlike white gold and traditional yellow gold, platinum is a strong and durable metal mainly because of it density. Which means it doesn’t need to be mixed with other alloys to strengthen it.
Additionally, platinum jewelry doesn’t need to be plated with rhodium (like wghite gold) materials to give it its beautiful silver appearance. Platinum is an extremely difficult metal for jewelers to work with and will feel much denser on the finger. For these reasons, platinum is much more expensive than yellow gold or white gold jewelry. It is hypoallergenic, which means that consumers with nickel allergies won’t have to worry about an allergic reaction.