Whether we’re buying jewelry as a gift or enjoy investing in our own piece from time to time, the whole experience might seem like torture if we don’t know what we’re looking for. Today, the market offers a lot of expensive looking jewelry made out of artificial materials. So in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, let’s arm ourselves with some helpful facts.
When buying precious metal jewelry, we should look for several things: purity of metal, shine, and color.
The first criterion defines the price, especially when it comes to gold.
The purity of gold is, as we all probably know, expressed in carats (K or kt). When made, all precious jewelry gets several stamps on the inside or the clasp, one of them being information about metal purity.
That means that there should be a visible 14K, 18K or 24K stamp. The number tells how many parts (out of 24) of pure metal there are in the alloy. So, the 14K has 14 parts of gold and 10 parts of other metal and so forth.
Most jewelry nowadays is made of 14K gold. Besides having a satisfying hue, it is also a lot more durable than pure gold that’s too soft for jewelry or any other usable objects.
When it comes to silver, we watch for a different (decimal) hallmark: 925. That means that the object is 92.5% pure silver.
It might be good to know that many European countries use the same type of decimal hallmark for gold as well as silver. In that case, there would be a 750 (75,0% pure gold – 18K) or a 585 (58,5% -14K) stamp.
Everything else is optional and depends on personal taste, especially the color of gold. There are many variations nowadays besides the typical white and yellow – pink, green and even brown and black. Of course, the color variation comes from other metals in the gold alloy or the plating.
Nowadays most makers put hallmarks for plating as well. That way we can be sure about what we’re buying.
Shine or Patina?
When it comes to the shine, most silver and white gold jewelry you can find in shops are rhodium plated. That means that they have an additional protective layer that gives them extra shine, as well as prevents any change of color that might occur due to oxidizing.
That being said, there is a large offer of jewelry, especially silver, that isn’t plated. Instead of mirror shine, some people actually prefer the charm that patina gives to their jewelry.
Whether we’re shopping online or in person, we expect to be satisfied with our purchase. Since in online shopping we have to rely on others, it would be wise to look for shops and dealers with a good reputation. That way we’ll most definitely get a precious object that would, with proper care, last us, or our loved one, a lifetime.