Precious elemental metals have been used in jewelry manufacturing for over seven thousand years. Gold (Au) is king amongst all metals. It has been valued the longest and been associated with power and wealth amongst all cultures. Gold is the only yellow metal and the most malleable and ductile. Its rich color, impressive weight and workability will always make it untouchable and therefore will remain "the-go-to" for jewelry and ornamentation.
Silver (Ag) has been adorned since antiquity for its white lustrous appearance. It is second to gold in malleability and ductility. Sterling silver that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper is easy to work with, yet durable for jewelry and ideal for extended use in silverware.
Platinum (Pt) has only made a significant presence in jewelry in the nineteenth century. The platinum family also contains five other metals - palladium, irdium, osmium, rhodium and ruthenium. Platinum is the most common in jewelry. The platinum family is highly resistant to corrosion, except for osmium, and is very workable. It is most prized for its white tarnish free color.
Precious metals are weighed and traded internationally in troy ounces. A troy ounce is 31.103 grams.
Gold and silver in particular are too soft for most jewelry applications. They are melted with other metals to make them harder. The fused metal is then referred to as an alloy. The amount or proportion of gold in an alloy is called the Karat. The Karat system measures golds' purity in twenty four parts. Pure gold is 24K. Alloy of 75% gold is 18K. Alloy of 58.3% gold is 14K.
The fineness of precious metals can also be expressed in parts per thousand, making pure gold 1000 fine. Sterling silver is 925 fine, and 75% platinum is 750 fine. The standard for fine jewelry is 75% precious metal to 25% alloy.
I am a smith through and through, I wield hammers to move and shape metal. My traditional workshop holds antique European tools; key pieces that Gold and Silversmiths have carefully refined over the years. Hand forging is the best way of fabricating jewellery, as the craftsman has control over all aspects of assembling the object. Some jewellery today is marketed as handcrafted; a world apart from hand forged or hand fabricated. I hand forge because I value things that are precisely made by a craftsman, there is then also a personal connection to the object. What makes my work so pleasureable to make is I have direct contact with the metal throughout the bending, rolling, pulling and forging process. The contact remains through soldering and filing, then the final stage of polishing the assembled piece. Unlike jewellery that has been cast from a mold (handcrafted), my jewellery has a higher metal density, therefore less pourous, making it stronger, scratch less and last longer. As there are no rubber molds in hand forged jewellery, there is the satisfaction of knowing that it truly is a one of a kind creation.
Fine jewellery really speaks about who you are and what you value, perhaps even more than your clothes do.
Tap, tap, tap... Each strike of the goldsmiths hammer hardens the metal and changes the shape and size.