Pure gold is too soft for use in jewellery and is typically hardened by alloying with silver, copper or other metals. In the UK the most common fineness of gold is 9ct, 18ct and 22ct. 9ct gold is 37.5 percent pure with the remaining 62.5 percent made up of other metals forming the alloy, whereas 18ct gold is 75 percent pure and 22ct gold is 91.6 percent pure. The alloy makes the gold more resistant to scratching and denting and adds to the overall appearance of the metal for example, 9ct gold looks very yellow compared to 18ct which is a slightly darker colour. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all known metals, a single ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet measuring roughly 5 metres on a side, which is why gold is perfect for jewellery. What carat is most suitable? 18ct is normally preferred for an engagement ring as it holds up to everyday wear better than 9ct gold and looks better over time.
Yellow gold, normally an alloy including silver, copper and zinc to strengthen the metal and enhance the yellow sheen. Historically the metal of choice for jewellery, many people preferring the warmer colour with their skin tone, and for its contrast with precious stones and other metals.
White gold is created by mixing yellow gold with either silver, palladium or platinum to produce the white colour. It’s available in both 9 and 18 carat and looks like a whitish grey colour unlike what you see in the shops today, it is then rhodium plated which produces a whiter and brighter finish to the piece but the plating will need to be replaced every so often to keep its colour and lustre.
The rarest and most precious metal, it is a beautiful white metal, which polishes well and does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold. Platinum will last a lifetime due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear. Where gold is often alloyed with other precious metals, platinum used in jewellery is almost pure (approximately 95% pure) and is very dense and heavy, so a platinum ring will feel even heavier than an 18ct gold ring.
Platinum is an extremely rare metal. This combined with the fact that it is very resistant and doesn’t tarnish, are the reasons for Platinum’s high value. Platinum is not an ancient metal; it wasn’t until relatively modern times that Platinum was regarded as such a valuable commodity. In fact, before the 1700’s, the identity of Platinum was uncertain, and Platinum was often regarded as a lesser form of Silver. The extremely high melting point of Platinum also made it difficult to melt down and fashion into jewellery. This has all changed today, with the popularity and value of Platinum soaring and its usage in high-end rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings that are fashioned in Platinum have helped make it more exclusive.
Platinum Jewellery at Lester and Brown
As jewellery designers, we have watched the rise of platinum and seen it become one of the great success stories of the international jewellery industry. Platinum is the most secure setting for diamonds and precious gemstones, that’s why we would always recommend it. Many of the designs you see on our website and in our showroom are made in platinum, jewellery in platinum adds strength and durability to a piece that will last a lifetime.
Palladium is a white metal and a member of the platinum family, palladium is strong and durable and has a fantastic shine, which allows for bigger and bolder jewellery designs to be created. Palladium is an almost pure metal (approximately 95%) and is excellent for people with sensitive skin, as it is hypoallergenic with similar characteristics to platinum, but at a more affordable price.
Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, and named after the asteroid Pallas, first sighted in 1801. Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal that, together with platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium, form the group of elements known as the platinum group metals.
Even though some Jewellery designers have been creating pieces in Palladium since 1939, palladium was only recently legally recognised with its own hallmark. From the 1st January 2010 the hallmarking of Palladium became compulsory
Palladium is strong and durable. It is low density, which means it weighs less than platinum – allowing bigger and bolder jewelry designs to be created. Palladium is from the same family of precious metals as platinum and shares its strength. Plus, since it’s naturally white, there’s no expensive rhodium plating unlike white gold.
Palladium is fast becoming the metal of choice for a growing number of jewellery designers and is typically less expensive than platinum or gold, making it the preference for savvy shoppers who want affordable luxury. At Lester and Brown we have made many pieces of beautiful palladium jewellery.
Similar to platinum, palladium jewellery is almost pure and less likely to cause allergic reactions. Palladium is pure because it gets its color and luster from nature. Other metals like white gold are not naturally white and are mixed with nickel to appear white – and it’s the nickel that can cause an allergic reaction.
Palladium jewellery at Lester and Brown
Over the last few years we have been designing and creating all host of unique palladium jewellery, many of our customers prefer a naturally white metal and platinum was the only one recognised as precious, however, since palladium gained its hallmarking status, there has been a growing desire for a precious white metal which is affordable. Palladium has similar properties to platinum but is similar in price to 14ct gold, which many of our customers find attractive from a cost point of view when we are designing their jewellery.