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Frequently Asked Questions about Precious Metals

How is the purity of gold measured?

The purity of gold is measured using the karat system of measurement. Gold is usually mixed, or alloyed, with other metals, such as copper or nickel. This makes the gold more durable for jewelry use by hardening the gold. Gold in its purest form is 24 Karats, which is the highest purity measurement for gold. Most of the jewelry in the United States is sold in either 18KT, 14KT or 10KT purity. Gold sold in lower Karats means that the gold has been mixed with other metals, such as copper or nickel.
For example, 18KT gold jewelry is about 75% pure, meaning 75% of the piece is pure gold, and the rest is another metal allow. All companies pay based on the karat purity weight of the gold.

What is the difference between sterling silver and pure silver?

Sterling is usually alloyed (mixed) with another metal, such as nickel or zinc to harden the silver, and is typical for everyday use, such as jewelry or flatware. Most sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver, while pure silver is anywhere from 99.5% or 99.9% pure. All companies pay based on the silver purity and weight of the silver item. Many pieces of sterling silver jewelry will contain a ‘925’ marking.

What are platinum and palladium?

Platinum is an extremely rare metal Retailers claim supply estimates of this fine metal, being 30 times rarer than gold, that if all the world’s platinum reservoirs were poured into one Olympic size swimming pool, it would be scarcely deep enough to cover your ankles; whereas gold would fill more than three such pools. Platinum and palladium are part of the platinum precious metals group. They are 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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