Precious Metals | Platinum, Palladium and Gold Jewellery
Learn more about precious metals that are used in jewellery. This includes gold jewellery, platinum jewellery, and palladium jewellery.
Gold is by far the most popular of precious metals for the making of fine jewellery. This metal has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history. In the past, the Gold standard has been implemented as a monetary policy, but it was widely supplanted by fiat currency starting in the 1930s. The last gold certificate and gold coin currencies were issued in the U.S. in 1932. In Europe, most countries left the gold standard with the start of World War I in 1914 and, with huge war debts, did not return to gold as a medium of exchange. The value of gold is rooted in its medium rarity, easy handling, easy smelting, non-corrosiveness, distinct color and non-reactiveness to other elements; qualities most other metals lack.
A total of only 175,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history. This is roughly equivalent to 5.6 billion troy ounces or, in terms of volume, about 9261 m3, or a cube 21.0 m on a side that would sit comfortably under the base of the Eiffel Tower. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.
Pure gold is relatively soft and dulls easily therefore for jewellery it is almost always alloyed with other metals. This makes it harder wearing and more pleasingly polished. In the case of 18 carat gold the alloy is 75% pure gold and in 9 carat gold just 37.5% pure gold. 18 carat gold is heavier and more buttery in colour whist 9 carat is lighter and somewhat brassy.
Gold and gold jewellery are always naturally yellow in colour. To create white gold it is alloyed with whiter metals and then rhodium plated to give a bright and highly polished finish. The Rhodium plating will wear off over time dependent on its treatment. The plating can be easily refreshed in our workshops.
Platinum is a truly solid “white” precious metal used in jewellery production. It is also very dense and heavy so it feels good to wear too. It is both a very rare metal and in high demand for industrial uses which makes it expensive.
Of the 245 tonnes of platinum sold in 2010, 113 tonnes were used for vehicle emissions control devices (46%), 76 tonnes for jewelry (31%). The remaining 35.5 tonnes went to various other minor applications, such as investment, electrodes, anticancer drugs, oxygen sensors, spark plugs and turbine engines.
During periods of sustained economic stability and growth, the price of platinum tends to be as much as twice the price of gold, whereas during periods of economic uncertainty, the price of platinum tends to decrease due to reduced industrial demand, falling below the price of gold. Gold prices are more stable in slow economic times, as gold is considered a safe haven and gold demand is not driven by industrial uses. Gold may therefore be considered a safer long term investment.
Palladium is also a naturally white precious metal. It has recently become more popular due to the expense of Platinum. It doesn’t have the weight of platinum but a very similar appearance.
In January 2010, hallmarks for palladium were introduced by assay offices in the United Kingdom, and it became a legal requirement to hallmark all articles of jewellery described as being wholly or partly made of palladium.