Once you have decided upon the design of your bespoke piece of jewellery, the next stage is to choose the precious metal that you want to have it made in. We have put together this guide to give you lots of information and help you make the right choice for you.
There are four recognised precious metals which require hallmarking to guarantee them for sale in the UK. Along with selecting the precious stones that you may want to have set in your design, this will form the basis of your final quotation so it is important that you are aware of the choices available and their properties.
In this article you will find out more about Platinum, White Gold and Yellow Gold, Palladium and Silver. Form Bespoke Jewellers are experts in working with all these precious metals.
Hallmarking precious metals
Before we go into the details of each of the four metals, it is a legal requirement that all precious metals in the UK are hallmarked. As precious metals are too soft to be used in their pure form platinum gold, palladium and silver are always alloyed with copper or other metals to create an alloy that is more suitable to the requirements of the jeweller. Such an alloy needs to be strong, workable, yet still attractive. The hallmark ensures that the alloy contains the correct amount of precious metal; this is worked out in parts of 1000. In addition to this mark your jewellery will be marked with Form Bespoke Jewellers sponsor mark as well as the Assay Office where the hallmark was applied
Platinum is a naturally white precious metal that will never lose its brilliant lustre or tarnish, appreciated for its beauty and durability. Deposits of platinum are concentrated to a few areas of the world mainly South Africa and Russia and it is rare and therefore expensive. Platinum is one of the densest and heaviest metals and it is known as one of the most precious metals, the price of platinum changes on a daily basis. To ensure strength and workability it is 950 parts out of 1000 parts pure and is hallmarked with the 950 mark. Platinum continues to be one of Form Bespoke Jewellers customers most popular choices for engagement and wedding rings as it retains its white colour and strength. Gold and silver jewellery will wear down when worn against a platinum item.
18ct and 9ct Yellow Gold
Gold is a naturally yellow precious metal that will never loose its glowing lustre or tarnish. Gold is mined in every continent except for Antarctica and is traditionally used as a backing for paper currency and its price changes on a daily basis. In its pure form (24ct) it is extremely soft and is therefore mixed with other metals such as copper to increase its strength and workability. In the UK the most popular carats are 18ct, which is made up of 750 parts pure gold out of 1000 parts (hallmarked 750) and 9ct which is made up of 375 parts pure gold out of 1000 parts (hallmarked 375). As 9ct gold has a greater content of other metals it is therefore harder and less expensive than 18ct gold.
18ct and 9ct White Gold
White gold is an alloy created using yellow gold - it does not occur naturally in its own right. To gain a white look the yellow gold is mixed with other white metals which also add to the strength and workability. As with yellow gold, white gold is most popular in the UK in 18ct and 9ct and is hallmarked in the same way. To ensure a brilliant white finish white gold is finished with a plate of rhodium which in many cases may need to be replated over time to maintain its white colour, adding additional expense. At Form Bespoke Jewellers both our 18ct and 9ct white gold contains a high palladium alloy which makes the gold whiter, avoiding the problem of the yellow gold wearing through, plus the after sales service you receive from Form Bespoke Jewellers means we will clean, polish and check over your jewellery as well as replate for a back to new finish, completely free of charge! At Form Bespoke Jewellers white coloured metal continues to be the most requested by our customers and 18ct and 9ct white gold is a more affordable option to platinum, it will however wear if worn next to platinum.
Palladium is a naturally white precious metal with a silver white lustre that does not tarnish and is durable. Although palladium has only been recognised as a precious metal requiring hallmark in the UK from January 2010, it is not a new metal and has been used in jewellery since the 1800's. Palladium is the least dense of the platinum metals group and is found in only a few areas of the world, mainly South Africa and Russia and is therefore rare however the current market price is much lower than platinum. To ensure strength and workability palladium is 950 parts out of 1000 pure and is marked 950 by the Assay Office. Recent increases in platinum and gold prices has led to palladium growing in demand and is a popular choice for Form Bespoke Jewellers customers, especially for heavier gent's wedding rings. We would not recommend if is worn next to platinum or gold.
Silver is a naturally white, long recognised precious metal with a brilliant white lustre which will tarnish. Common sources of silver are Peru, Mexico, China and Australia. Silver is cheaper than gold, though still valuable and is frequently used in more artistically creative jewellery pieces. To ensure strength and workability silver is 925 parts out of 1000 pure and is marked 925 by the Assay Office. Due to the tarnishing silver is not as durable as other precious metals and Form Bespoke Jewellers would not recommend its use for engagement or wedding rings.
Something else to consider
All the above precious metals can be finished with a highly polished surface or a variety of brushed textures, as well as detail engraving which can further enhance your design.
Form Bespoke Jewellers will happily prepare a selection of quotations across precious metal and precious stone options so you can tailor-make your bespoke jewellery design to fit your individual budget.
If you require any further information or would like to discuss a design that you have in mind then please contact us to see what we can make for you.