A Guide to Precious Metals – What You Need To Know
By definition, precious metals are those that are considered to be rare and/or have a high economic value. Precious metals include, but are not limited to: gold, silver, platinum, iridium, rhodium and palladium. Global prices change frequently according to complex market forces and value depends on current market price.
(Kitco.com is an internationally recognized website for gold news and market information.)
Our Precious Metals: Gold, Silver & Platinum
Paradigm Experts buys and sells gold, silver and platinum in any form or purity. We are available for appointments all over the country but specifically in the Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland area. Below are some interesting facts about each metal:
Pure gold is bright yellow in color and its purity is measured in karats (k), with pure being 24k. Since pure gold is too soft to use for jewelry, it is alloyed with a variety of other metals to give it strength and durability.
Gold can be alloyed to any karat, which simply indicates the percentage of pure gold in the mix. 10k and 14k are most commonly used in the U.S., while 18k is the European standard. One exception is that British gold is typically 9k or 12k.
See the table below for the common percentages.
|Karat||% Gold||% Other Metals|
The bright yellow color of pure gold is changed when other metals are in the mix. Here are some typical gold “colors” and their compositions:
- Yellow gold is an alloy of gold, silver and copper.
- White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one silver-colored metal, usually nickel or zinc.
- Rose, red, and pink gold are all gold and copper alloys. The higher the copper content, the darker the red color.
- Green gold is an alloy of gold and silver, though, for rings, harder metals like nickel and zinc are often added for strength.
Pure silver is relatively soft and malleable so it is typically combined with other metals to give it strength and durability. The most common silver alloy is Sterling silver, which is 92.5% pure. The other 7.5% can be any other metal, but copper is the norm because it lends hardness and durability without affecting the silver color.
To determine if your flatware, serving pieces or tea services are Sterling silver or some other alloy, check the back of the piece for markings.
- If you see the word Sterling or the number 925, it is Sterling silver. Depending on where the pieces were purchased, you could see other numbers (735, 850, 900), which typically indicates the percentage of pure silver, though the pieces should be tested to confirm.
- British silver is interesting because it is marked with lions. If the lion has:
o Four paws down = 95% pure Silver
o One paw up = 92.5% pure (Sterling)
o Two paws up = Silver plate
If your silver is not marked with any of the previously mentioned markings, it is most likely silver plate, which has only trace amounts of silver. Let our experts determine the value of your silver and silver plate.
Platinum is the most precious metal commonly used in jewelry. It is more durable than gold, and highly resistant to corrosion. Platinum lends itself well to jewelry because of its strength and resistance to tarnish, both of which make it the ideal setting for diamonds and other gemstones. Most platinum jewelry is 90% pure, and, because of its purity, is less likely to cause an allergic reaction like some of the other alloys. Like white gold, it is very popular because it accentuates the brightness of diamonds.
In addition to jewelry, platinum is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, thermometers, and dentistry equipment.