Guide to metals

PLATINUM

Platinum comes from the Spanish term 'platinadel Pinto', which translates to 'little silver of the Pinto River'. Platinum is the rarest & heaviest of the precious metals. It is thought that if all the platinum in the world was poured into an Olympic size swimming pool it would scarcely be deep enough to cover your ankles. How somebody sat & worked that out though, I will never know! Platinum is used in a 95% purity & is never plated as white gold often is. It's naturally white colour makes it a superb neutral background for any gem stone be it coloured or white.

WHITE GOLD

Many people ask what the difference is between white gold & platinum. This is understandable because when they are in a jeweller's window they look the same. What is rarely mentioned though, is that white gold is usually 'rhodium plated'. The natural colour of white gold varies from shop to shop so most jewellers plate the white gold with a metal that looks like platinum. This is called 'rhodium'. The reason they do this is not to protect it, it is purely cosmetic. All colours of gold contain yellow gold which gives them a warm hue. It is the alloys used in white gold that determine the final colour. Some less expensive alloys leave the white gold looking surprisingly yellowy & that is why most shops use rhodium plating. The dilemma is that the plating wears off quite quickly & this means that customers have to pay to re-plate their jewellery every few months for the rest of their life! At RING jewellers though, we do not plate our white gold. We use more of a precious metal called 'palladium' (see below) as an alloy in our white gold. This naturally whitens it at the molten stage without the need for plating. If a customer does request rhodium plating we can apply it in our workshops in just 2 hours. If they do not however, we will make their jewellery in 'natural' white gold which will never change colour ? ever!

PALLADIUM

Named after Pallas the Greek goddess of philosophy (aka Athena), palladium is from the platinum group of elements. Palladium looks & wears the same as platinum but is a much more affordable alternative. This is partly because of its weight. Palladium is slightly lighter than platinum so if you make the same piece of jewellery twice from each metal the platinum version will not only cost more per gram, but it will be a heavier item. Palladium is used in a 95% purity & is never plated as white gold often is. Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewellery since 1939, but it only received its own official British hallmark in 2009. The steep rise in precious metal prices means that palladium has become a welcome alternative to platinum, which is why we include palladium wedding rings in our collection.

TITANIUM

Named after the Titans of Greek mythology titanium was discovered in Great Britain (Cornwall) in 1791. Titanium has the highest weight to strength ratio of any metal. This means that is it surprisingly light, but incredibly strong. Titanium is not technically a precious metal so when it comes to jewellery the value is more in the labour it takes to make it. This results in the unusual situation where a very wide gents ring in a large finger size costs the same as a smaller delicate ladies band. The unique properties of titanium mean that you cannot be allergic to it. It is for this reason that it has less glamorous uses like hip replacements! Titanium can also be anodised resulting in vivid coloured finishes like blue, green, bronze & yellow. There are many myths about titanium like 'it cannot be cut off if you hurt yourself' & 'it cannot be re-sized'. These are nonsense! At RING jewellers we have perfected a grade that we can drill to set diamonds in, size & even cut off if need be!

GOLD

24ct gold (pure gold) is extremely soft & is rarely used in jewellery in this form. To strengthen gold it gold is usually alloyed with other metals like copper, silver & palladium. The higher the carat, the softer the gold but anything below 22ct is suitable for every day wear. In the UK we use 9ct, 18ct & 22ct gold but other imported jewellery can be made from 10ct or 14ct. The purity of the different carats of gold are as follows: 24ct = 100%, 22ct = 91.6%, 18ct = 75%, 14ct = 58.5%, 10ct = 41.6%, 9ct = 37.5%

ROSE GOLD

Also referred to as 'red gold', rose gold is used in the same carats (purities) as yellow gold. What makes rose gold different from other gold's is its warm colouration. This colour is achieved by using copper as an alloy. Although copper is used within yellow gold, it is usually at a lower percentage. Using a little more gives rose gold its distinct red appearance. 9ct rose gold tends to look very coppery, whilst 18ct rose has a warm, golden hue. Rose gold is ideal for making reproduction jewellery that appears antique but is actually a new, hand-made piece.