The history of yellow gold dates back to many millennia. It was found in its purest raw form on riverbanks all over the world and was the first metal to be discovered by early humans. Because of it’s brilliance, bright yellow colour, luster and malleability, it formed part of every culture. Gold’s use in jewellery and adornment date back to 6000 years. Gold in its purest form is deep yellow in colour and referred to as 24 carat gold. In this state it is considered too malleable (bendable and soft) for uses in most jewellery. Pure gold is combined with other stronger metals like silver to create a tougher alloy. This is what’s known today as 18ct, 14ct and 9ct gold. Where 18ct has the highest ratio of gold to silver mix and therefore the most valuable. Because of the workability of gold it can be used in many creative designs.
White gold is an alloy of yellow gold mixed with another white metal. The other metals usually used are nickel, manganese or palladium. White gold is a more affordable choice than platinum and does not tarnish. The bright white colour of white gold is enhanced by Rhodium plating, giving it a polished shiny finish. With the day-to-day wear of any jewellery, the rhodium plating can become worn. The lustre of the jewellery piece can easily be improved by re-plating. It is also hallmarked in the same way as yellow gold ensuring its purity.
Pink gold also referred to as rose gold and red gold is an alloy formed by mixing yellow gold and copper. Since copper has a distinct pink-orange colour, when mixed with yellow gold, it forms the elegant pink colour. Pink gold is fast becoming a contemporary trend in jewellery fashion industry. Along with the other types of gold, Pink gold is also hallmarked to ensure the purity of the gold.
Platinum is a metal in its purist form, which is not mixed with other metals to form an alloy. This interestingly makes it hypoallergenic. The popularity of platinum stems from the fact that is very tough and durable and most importantly, does not tarnish. Because of the natural hardness of platinum, it is the ideal setting for diamonds. Unlike its gold and silver counterparts, platinum does not chip but rather scratch the surface and can be easily polished away. Platinum is also hallmarked with 950 representing its purity. Meaning it contains 95% of the metal. Because of the rarity of platinum of and its qualities many people invest in it as an heirloom.
Silver is very versatile in its uses because of the malleability. It can be easily formed into many shapes and structures and therefore create many interesting designs. Silver is the brightest of all white metals and has been used in jewellery making for millennia. Sterling Silver is hallmarked 925, which is an alloy of 92.5% silver. This alloy is harder and more durable than pure silver and hence its use in modern jewellery. Less common is Britannia Silver which is an alloy of silver and copper containing 95.8% silver and hallmarked 958.