Choosing your precious metal
Whether your priority is colour, durability, or a request to match your skintone or clothing, David Law will advise on the perfect precious metal that is right for you.
Platinum is a rare precious metal that’s durable and heavyweight. This means it won’t wear away with constant use, and holds gemstones in place for the lifetime of the jewellery.
With a natural white lustre, platinum brings the best out of diamonds. It’s equally elegant when used to create a piece of jewellery by itself.
Pure platinum contains at least 950 parts of platinum per thousand.
24ct gold is pure gold. However, pure gold is too soft to be used for jewellery, so other metals are nearly always added to strengthen it.
18ct gold is an alloy that contains 18 parts gold and six parts of other metals (usually copper), making it 75% gold.
White gold is created by mixing other metals with gold to create a white or grey colour. It’s then coated with rhodium to keep its colour.
One option is to add nickel, but this can cause dermatitis in people who are sensitive to nickel. The other option is to add palladium, which is more expensive but less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Rose and pink gold
Gold-coloured alloys are created by the addition of copper. Rose and pink gold are created by adding extra copper – the more copper, the deeper the effect.
Palladium is an affordable alternative to platinum. It comes from the same family of metals, but is currently priced between a quarter and half the cost. Unlike white gold, palladium doesn’t need to be coated with rhodium, and will retain its natural white colour.
Like platinum, the hallmark added by the assay office might read 950 – but for platinum the surrounding stamp is the shape of a house, while for palladium, the surround is shaped like a roof or circle.
Palladium is an increasingly popular option. In fact, more than one-fifth of the world’s supply of palladium now goes into jewellery production.
Pure silver is too soft to create durable jewellery, so 7.5% of other metals are added to improve performance. The most common metal that’s added is copper. This does make the silver harder, but also gives it a tendency to tarnish.
If you wear sterling silver jewellery continually, it often develops a lovely patina – a kind of glow combined with darkened areas. Many people like this look. If, however, you prefer your sterling silver to be bright and shiny, you can restore its original appearance by polishing it with a cloth.
Sterling silver is both beautiful and affordable, putting sterling silver jewellery within the range of almost any budget.