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A Guide to Precious Metals


Gold, silver, palladium, platinum – what is familiar about these? Well, these are the most commonly used precious metals. Anything rare automatically becomes costly, too, due to the demand and supply gap. This economics equation works in the world of metals, as well. And that is how we get the definition that goes like this:

“ A metal rare in occurrence, and quite high in price, useful for ornamental and industrial purposes, is termed as a precious metal.”

Types of precious metals

As mentioned above, precious metals examples are gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. These precious metals help make artistic figurines, jewelry items, and a few industrial products like SIM cards in mobile phones, or teeth caps in dentistry, or catalytic converters in automobiles. It is worth noticing that gold and silver are very soft and need to be amalgamated with some harder metals to create adornment items. Depending upon the percentage of precious metal employed, the purity levels of precious metals change. Due to hefty price tag attached, the sellers of precious metals must mention clearly and correctly their purity level. Let’s look at various sub-grades of precious metals based on their percentage availability in the final alloy.


Purity of precious metals

It is pretty common to find terms like 18k, 22k, etc., written on the gold jewelry items. Similarly, silver is also available in different qualities and you will find the term 925 Sterling silver on silver jewelry products.Similarly platinum always goes by purity 950. Let’s understand and explore the sub-types of precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and palladium.


Gold is one of the most precious metals that form the base metal for luxury jewelry. The jewelry lovers with extravagant taste in their adornments prefer blings made of Gold.

It is a well-known fact that purest gold is very soft, easily breakable, and not capable of withstanding carvings and presses involved in jewelry making. That is why it is mixed with different metals to achieve considerable strength.Depending upon the amount and types of other metals mixed with gold, the following purity levels of these precious metals have been developed.

You must be knowing that the gold purity is measured in Karats. And that one carat is equal to 1/24th part gold. Thus, 24K makes the purest gold, where all 24 parts of the metal are gold and nothing else.

Different purity levels of gold

Since it is impossible to employ gold of 24K purity for ornaments and jewelry, it is mixed with other metals. Thus, according to the gold parts present in the metal, the gold is classified as:

9k Gold
It has 9 parts gold and 15 parts other metals. Thus, the resultant metal is quite strong and offers sturdy jewelry items suitable for daily use. Zinc, palladium, tin, and nickel are the other metals that form 15 parts of the metal.
14k Gold
14K gold is a little higher in purity than 9K gold. It offers sturdy base material for making gold jewelry. The gold and other metal parts are 14 parts gold and 10 parts metal mixture comprising zinc, copper, nickel, silver, and a rhodium plating. 14K gold is 58.3% gold.
18k Gold
18K gold is quite precious and has 75% gold part. 25% part comprises copper, silver, or platinum, and other durable metals. It is in vogue in gold jewelry in Asia and some western countires. 18k Gold is the most preferred metal for diamond jewelry.
22k Gold
It is the highest purity level gold. Since 24K is too soft to mold or carve into jewelry, 22K is considered pure gold for ornamental purposes. It may have copper, silver, or platinum. In Asian countries like India, 22K gold jewelry is considered the most authentic.

So what is White Gold and Rose Gold ?

Gold in its natural form is usually yellow in color but it can be mixed with other alloys to form a white or the now popular pinnk or rose gold. The color just comes from mixing the alloys. The purity of the gold remains the same as explained above.

So lets now talk a but about the other metals.

Silver is another precious metal popularly used for making anklets, nose rings, rings, bracelets, etc. This precious metal is available in the following purity levels: • Fine Silver (.999 Silver) Percentage-wise, it is 99.99% silver. The remaining part is insignificant impurities. This silver is best suited for earrings and necklaces that don’t get bumped much. It is pretty soft silver, and making jewelry out of it is a tad difficult. • Sterling Silver (.925 Silver) It contains 92.5% silver. The Sterling Silver is quite a feasible option for making jewelry pieces of everyday utility and those fit for special occasions. Its sturdiness makes it an ideal base metal for bracelets, rings, necklaces, anklets, armlets, etc.
Platinum can be called the new-found passion of rare jewelry connoisseurs. This metal is more precious than gold and is known for its white, lustrous look. Having the luxury of gold, it surpasses the latter in strength and luster. Earlier, it was impossible to make Platinum jewelry as the metal was not easy to melt and molded into jewelry pieces. With the intervention of better technologies, platinum jewelry has been able to see the light of the day. Currently, the most exquisite and rare jewelry items are designed and carved in Platinum. Its white luster makes it an ideal base metal for gemstone jewelry. Most popularly used in wedding bands, platinum is employed in other rare jewelry items like high-end fashion earrings, rings, bracelets, etc. All platinum jewelry that we see is 95-97% pure platinum. The best part of using platinum is that it does not tarnish like silver or darkens with time. Hence, it is quite a low-maintenance material too.
The fourth most talked-about metal in the league of precious metals is Palladium. It is roaring high on preciousness quotient because of its rare occurrence. Obtained as a by-product of mining and processing platinum and nickel kind of metals, this precious metal is making its place as the raw material for industrial use, dentistry solutions base, and high-end jewelry. Palladium got everybody’s attention with the surge in demand for petrol-run vehicles. The petrol cars employ palladium in catalytic converters, unlike diesel cars that utilized platinum. Advantages of using palladium for making jewelry are its naturally white color offers visual delight and amplifies designs beautifully and the natural white color does not demand rhodium plating, which is the case with silver jewelry. It is mined primarily in Russia and South Africa, but other countries with nickel and platinum reserves are also catching up on production.

Summing up,

Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium are the four most important precious metals visible to us, mainly in the form of jewelry. High price, ability to get carved and molded and social status attached to owning these metals have made these base metals a matter of pride for connoisseurs of classy and rare things.