Have you ever wondered what are the types of metals that are being used in the jewellery that you purchased? Let's delve into this topic today with our simple guide to one of the precious metals - gold!
Differences Between Precious Metals and Base Metals
Precious metals are considered high end valuables and are mostly used in fine jewellery. The best known precious metals are gold, platinum and silver.
Base metals are non-precious metals such as brass, bronze, copper and nickel. They are cheaper alternatives to precious metals and are usually used in fashion jewellery.
Gold - The Famous Choice of Precious Metal
Gold is a famous choice of precious metal due to its rich colour, luster, rarity, and resistance to corrosion. It is highly workable and can be used for many different styles of jewellery. Gold lasts a long time and at the same time retains its value.
Gold in its purest state is extremely soft and bends easily. However, alloying gold with other metals increases its hardness, making it more suitable for jewellery setting. The term "karat" (K) is used to state gold’s purity, which is based on parts out of 24.
24K gold is the purest form of gold, consisting of 99.9% of gold. It is also referred to as 999 gold.
22K gold consists of 91.6% of gold and is also referred to as 916 gold.
18K gold consists of 75% of gold and is also referred to as 750 gold.
14K gold consists of 58.3% of gold and is also referred to as 583 gold.
Apart from increasing its hardness, alloying gold with other metals also creates different colours of gold. Yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are the 3 commonest gold colours in the market.
Yellow gold is made of gold mixed with copper, silver and zinc.
White gold is made of gold mixed with white metals such as nickel or palladium, copper and zinc.
Rose gold is made of gold mixed with copper and silver.
Plated, Filled and Solid Gold
Although they might look the same, there are huge differences among gold-plated, gold-filled and solid gold jewellery.
Gold plated jewellery is made of base metal coated with a very thin layer of gold/gold alloy. The gold content is usually less than 1% of the total metal weight of the jewellery. While gold plated pieces have the gold appearance, the thin layer of gold often wears off over time. Due to the low content of gold, gold plated jewellery pieces are relatively cheaper compared to those of gold filled or solid gold.
Gold filled jewellery is made of base metal bonded with a thicker layer of gold/gold alloy. The gold content must make up at least 5% of the total metal weight of the jewellery.
Solid gold is made entirely of gold/ gold alloy. Solid gold jewellery pieces are the highest in price and value among the three due to the high content of gold.