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All About Precious Metals

How is the purity of gold measured?

The purity of gold is measured using the karat system of measurement. Very simply, gold is usually alloyed (mixed) with other metals, such as copper or nickel. This makes the gold more durable for jewelry use by hardening the gold. In it's purest form, gold is 24KT. This is the highest purity measurement for gold. Most jewelry in the U.S. is sold in either 18KT, 14KT or 10KT purity. This means that the gold is mixed with other metals, usually copper or nickel. As an example, 14KT gold jewelry is about 58.5% pure, meaning 58.5% of the piece is pure gold, and the rest is the alloy. All companies pay based on the karat purity weight of the gold.

What is the difference between sterling silver and pure silver?

The biggest difference is that sterling is usually alloyed (mixed) with another metal, such as nickel or zinc to harden the silver for everyday use. Most sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver, while pure silver is 99.9% or 99.5% pure. Sterling is used in a variety of flatware and decorative candelabras, as well as everyday sterling silver jewelry. All companies pay based on the silver purity and weight of the silver item. A common hallmark you will find on sterling silver jewelry is '925'.

What are platinum and palladium?

Both platinum and palladium are part of the platinum precious metals groups. These are also considered to be precious metals, based on their rarity. Both are considered hard precious metals, so they are usually only alloyed 5-10%. Both metals are also naturally white in appearance. Jewelry made in platinum will be hallmarked with 'PLAT' or 'PLT' or '950'. Palladium jewelry is usually hallmarked 'PLD' or 'PALL'.

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