Introduction to Precious Metals

 

Mokume Gane, Meteorite, and Damascus Stainless Steel rings by Chris Ploof Designs Designs can be paired with a variety of precious metal alloys.

 

FYI: Alloy: a homogeneous mixture of two or more metals, where the resulting material has specific properties and characteristics (e.g., higher hardness, corrosion-resistance) that are more desirable than those of the pure, elemental metals.

Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium are rare metallic elements. These precious metals are durable, extremely corrosion- and oxidation-resistant, and have high economic value.

  • Silver (Ag) is a lustrous, malleable white metal.
  • Gold (Au) is a soft metal with a characteristic yellowish color and sheen.
  • Palladium (Pd) is a lustrous, silver-white metal.
  • Platinum (Pt) is a silvery-white metal that is both malleable and ductile.

Although an investment in precious metal wedding, engagement and commitment rings may seem expensive, their value as a symbol of your love will endure for a lifetime. Chris Ploof Designs is proud to offer a wide selection of precious metal alloys for use in designing your unique Mokume Gane or Damascus Stainless Steel ring. By selecting precious metal alloy channels, liners, edges, or gemstone settings in your ring design, you are able to frame the Mokume Gane or Damascus Stainless Steel bands to either subtle or striking effect. In addition, our Mokume Gane color compositions incorporate carefully selected combinations of precious metal alloys that range from vibrant to subtle and elegant to modern.

 

GOLD

Gold is malleable, durable, hypoallergenic, and tarnish-resistant. 24 karat is the gold standard and represents gold in its purest form (99.9+% pure gold). Although pure gold possesses a highly desirable deep, full yellow color, it is too soft to effectively be used for making rings. Therefore, alloying pure gold with other metals improves its mechanical properties such as strength and durability. Typically, 18K gold is composed of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals while 14K gold contains 58.33% pure gold and 41.67% other metals. Palladium, nickel, silver, and copper are alloyed with pure gold to create a variety of colored golds. For example, adding copper imparts a reddish, pink hue while adding silver results in a greener shade of yellow. Alloying not only changes the properties and color of gold, but also the cost. Generally, using lower cost alloying metals results in lower pure gold content and, thus, lower overall cost. Chris Ploof Designs offers 18K yellow gold, 18K palladium white gold, as well as 14K red gold.

 

YELLOW GOLD (RY-GOLD)

18K gold is considered the industry standard for high-quality jewelry and is favored by European jewelers. Chris Ploof Designs offers 18K yellow gold. Our 18K gold, known as Royal Yellow, exhibits a rich yellow color.

 

PALLADIUM WHITE GOLD (PW-GOLD)

White gold is an alloy made by adding at least one white metal such as nickel, palladium, or silver to pure gold. 18K white gold is mix of 75% pure gold and 25% white metal. Chris Ploof Designs offers both 14K and 18K white gold alloyed with palladium. The 14K palladium white gold provides a cool, gray tint, whereas 18K palladium white gold appears lighter, whiter. Palladium white gold alloys are soft and pliable. Compared to nickel white gold, palladium white gold is hypoallergenic and holds its white color better. Palladium white gold is a good choice for white gold gemstone settings.

 

RED GOLD (R-GOLD)

Red gold is a gold and copper alloy with a distinctive reddish color. It is also known as pink or rose gold. Typically, 18K red gold is composed of 75% pure gold, 21% copper, and 4% pure silver while 14K red gold contains 58.33% pure gold and 41.67% copper. Higher karat red gold alloys (18K or higher) are lighter in color than lower karat alloys (14K) because there is more pure gold (yellow) than copper (red). In other words, the higher the copper content, the deeper and richer the red hue. Chris Ploof Designs offers 18K red gold. Red gold can be used to complement colored diamonds. From a price perspective, red gold is similar to the more traditional and common yellow gold.

 

PLATINUM (PT)

Platinum (Pt) possesses a brilliant white luster. Platinum will not tarnish and is extremely durable. Platinum is a neutral metal and is an alternative for those who have skin sensitivities to other metals. Platinum purity is given relative to 1000 parts. Thus 950 platinum contains 950 parts platinum out of 1000; it is 95% pure platinum with either iridium or ruthenium added to impart hardness. Lower purity platinum alloys (90% and below) may change the color of the platinum or lower its durability. Platinum and white gold are similar in color. However, platinum is more durable and lightweight than white gold and has a higher resistance to tarnish and scratches. Platinum will scratch, but no material is lost as is the case with gold. More importantly, over time, platinum will not wear away or wear down, as does gold. For engagement rings, platinum’s luster is a perfect complement to the brilliance of a diamond. As a gemstone setting, platinum does not wear away and holds gemstones firmly and securely.

 

PALLADIUM (PD)

Palladium (Pd) is a member of the platinum group. Palladium is lightweight, durable, hypoallergenic, and resists tarnishing. Palladium is considered a white metal, although it appears light gray in color compared to sterling silver or 14K white gold. Chris Ploof Designs uses two types of Palladium: 950 Palladium (950 Pd) and Palladium 500 (Pd500). The 950 palladium alloy is a mixture of pure palladium (95%) and another platinum group metal, ruthenium (5%). Palladium 500 is an alloy comprised of 50% Palladium with the remainder being Silver and Copper. Palladium can be used as a replacement for platinum or white gold. Compared to platinum, palladium is lighter in weight, harder, and much less expensive. Palladium, like platinum, is much more durable than white gold.

 

STERLING SILVER (SS)

Because fine silver (99.9% pure) is so soft and malleable, it is rarely used for jewelry. By mixing silver with other metals, the resulting alloy is stronger while preserving both the ductility of the silver as well as the high precious metal content. Common sterling silver is made from a mixture of fine silver (92.5%) and copper (7.5%). Aesthetically, sterling silver has the bright white look of white gold, but at a fraction of the cost. Compared to white gold or platinum, palladium-enhanced sterling silver is a more affordable alternative for channels or liners on rings by Chris Ploof Designs.

 

MOKUME GANE

Chris Ploof Designs offers distinctive precious metals Mokume Gane compositions that are made and patterned by Chris in our studio. The two- and three-tone color combinations represent a carefully selected variety of contrasting and subtle colors that are certain to meet both the personal style and taste of the most discerning wedding, engagement and commitment ring customers. Contrasts can be seen in the Mokume Gane compositions that showcase yellow and red golds against more monochromatic colors.

 

COLOR SCALE FOR WHITE METALS

The properties and qualities of these metal alloys have been provided in previous sections above. When designing your ring, it is helpful for you to visualize how the metals compare with each other within the white color range. A comparative color scale of the white metal alloys is provided below:

  • Sterling Silver [lightest/whitest]
  • 14K White Gold
  • 950 Platinum
  • 950 Palladium
  • 18K Palladium White Gold
  • 14K Palladium White Gold
  • Palladium 500 [rich/cool gray]
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