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Silver – Sterling 925, Britannia 958. Softer than gold, silver is often use by smaller designers to create more intricate and interesting designs. Often seen in large pieces as “silverware” or models and sculptures. Antique jewellery often see’s precious gemstones set in silver on gold bands.
Yellow Gold – 9, 14, 15 (pre 1932), 18, 22, 24ct: The natural colour of this glorious element, it is still the most widely used metal today. Mixed with other metals to create different carats and colours, gold has not only been used for jewellery, but over the centuries has been incorporated in to weapons, burial masks, regalia and even clothing. Until 1932 15ct was commonly used, but this was removed and replaced by 14ct, which today is more commonly seen in jewellery manufactured abroad.
White Gold – 9, 14 or 18ct. An alloy of at least one white metal in to gold. Nickel, palladium or manganese are favoured for the mix. The resulting colour is creamy yellow, so to offer a polished, finished look, the product is plated with a white metal called rhodium. Over time, general every day wear can affect the plate, but white gold jewellery can generally be brought back to life with a fresh coating of the plate (see “Jewellery Care Guide”). As it is a more malleable metal than platinum, often you will see the most prestigious and complex jewels crafted in 18ct white gold.
Rose Gold – 9, 15 (pre 1932), 14 or 18ct: An alloy mix of gold and copper. Sometimes known as red or pink gold, this was the most common colour of gold used in antiquity. Today it is coming back in to fashion as it offers a slightly vintage feel to modern styles.
Platinum – 900 or 950: Jewellery has seen the incorporation of platinum for many years. In the UK, 950 is the accepted and common standard. The modern all platinum designs were simply not feasible in the past, due to the hardness of the metal and the expense. Even today, new manufacturers struggle with the initial set up of all platinum designs. Some designs enjoy a slightly unusual mix of an 18ct gold, with the bright platinum setting, instead of using the white gold equivalent.
Palladium – 900 or 950: In 2010, new legislation made it compulsory to hallmark palladium. Unknowingly by most, palladium has actually been used in jewellery for years. The accepted standard for modern jewellery in the UK is 950.
For words of advice of maintain any of the above metals, please see our Jewellery Care Guide.