Precious Metal Guide
In its pure form, gold is far too soft a metal to be used in jewellery manufacturing. Generally, basic metals are added to pure gold to produce the hardness and purity needed to make jewellery. Other metals, like silver, copper, palladium and platinum are often added. The resulting mix is then known as an alloy, gold purity is then described in carats. Many people are familiar: 9ct, 14ct, 18ct, or 22ct. Pure gold is 24 carat. The closer the number is to 24ct, the higher the gold content. In the UK we mainly use 9ct and 18ct. 9ct is hallmarked 375, which means the alloy contains 375 parts of gold per 1000, and 18ct is hallmarked 750 and contains 750 parts gold per 1000 (twice as much). 18ct is the most common alloy used for wedding rings in the UK. 18ct gold is not as hard as 9ct gold and will be more prone to scratching.
Gold is naturally yellow in colour. There is no such thing as natural white gold, so adding white metals to the gold alloy bleaches its colour. In practice, silver, palladium and platinum are strong bleachers of gold and are used in the production of white gold. It is common for white gold to be electro plated with rhodium, giving it a high white and bright finish. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family and one of the most expensive precious metals in the world. White gold will usually need to be re rhodium plated from time to time.
The rarest of the precious metals, 30 times rarer than gold. It is naturally white and as such will not cast any of its own colour into a diamond and provides a very secure setting for precious diamonds. Platinum never fades or tarnishes but keeps its natural white colour for a lifetime. Platinum is so pure, it is naturally hypo-allergenic and ideal for those with sensitive skin.
This alloy is a member of the platinum group metals and was recently awarded with it’s own precious metal hallmark. Palladium brings with it many of the qualities of its better known sibling. It is both hard wearing, retains its colour but is a lot lighter than platinum One of the main benefits of choosing this precious metal is that it currently costs about one third of the price of platinum and it is very difficult to differentiate between platinum and palladium with the naked eye. Palladium is available in two alloy qualities, the highest being hallmarked 950 (950 parts per 1000) and the later hallmarked 500 (500 parts per 1000). Palladium 500 looks the same as its 950 counterpart, but is lighter and incredibly hardwearing, ideal for those on a budget employed in manual work.
“The Four C’s” is the most common way of grading a diamond.
- C = Carat or weight
- C = Colour
- C = Clarity
- C = Cut
Let’s explain what each of these terms mean when applied to diamond grading. The 4 C’s is the standard method used by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and is probably the most widely used system for grading diamonds in the world today. Every factor has an effect on the value of a diamond.
C = Carat
Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats: one carat being equal to 0.2 grams.
Just as a £1 is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 40-point diamond weighs 0.40 carats, however two diamonds of the same weight can have very different values depending on the other factors of the four C’s: clarity, colour and cut.
A 1ct diamond with a poor colour, clarity and cut will not have the same monetary value as one with good colour, poor clarity and cut. So from this we can see that size is not everything!
C = Colour
The colour grading scale starts with D being colourless and the most expensive you can buy. Grades D, E & F are regarded as colourless. Grades G, H, I & J are described as near colourless and are perfect trade off between expense and quality.
The normal colour grade set in our wedding bands are near colourless H or I. As the diamonds in wedding rings tend to be quite small compared to those in say an engagement ring, these diamonds offer excellent value for money.
C = Clarity
Because diamonds are formed deep within the earth and under extreme heat and pressure, they often contain unique marks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).
The internal marks are graded under the heading of Clarity as detailed below by the GIA.
- Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are clearly visible under 10× magnification but can be characterized as minor
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
C = Cut
Cut is the factor that provides a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance.
A round traditional brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets, each precisely cut and defined, the brilliance and fire of a diamond depends on the quality of the cut more than anything else.
Wedding Ring Guide
The classic court profile is curved on the inside for unparalleled comfort and styled with matching curve on the outside.
Flat Court Profile
Curved on the inside as the classic court, but flat on the outside. This is the heaviest of all the profiles.
The opposite profile to the flat court. Curved on the outside as the classic court, but flat on the inside.
A ring that is flat on both the inside and outside, rectangular in section.