Metals

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Gold & Platinum

The term "karat" (usually abbreviated as "k," "K," or "Kt") refers to the relative purity of gold; pure gold is 24 karats. "Karat" is different from "carat," which is a metric unit of weight for gemstones.
14k White and Yellow Gold

14k white and yellow gold are popular and durable precious metals for jewelry.

Pure gold, which measures 24 karats, is too soft for use in jewelry. It is alloyed with other metals--silver, copper, nickel, and zinc--to increase its strength and durability.

14k white gold is not as white as platinum, as it is made from a yellow metal that is turned white mostly through nickel alloys. Most white gold items have a rhodium plating that wears away over time, so the metal may look more yellow with age. Some people prefer the slightly warmer white of white gold over platinum's grayer white.

18k White and Yellow Gold

Due to recent advances in alloy technology, 18k gold is now generally considered to be as durable as 14k gold. Because 18k gold has a higher percentage of pure gold, it has a richer gold color than 14k gold and is slightly heavier. An 18k gold setting can cost approximately 25% to 65% more than the same setting in 14k gold.

 Platinum

Platinum has great durability in holding precious stones. It is 35 times rarer than gold. A platinum jewelry item can cost approximately 60% to 200% more than the same setting in 18k gold, and 100% to 300% more than the same setting in 14k gold.


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Precious Metal Stamps - Hallmarking

Meaning of Precious Metal Stamps

Metal stamp | Minimum percentage of pure metal | Common alloys**


.925 - Also 925 Sterling Silver |  92.5% pure fine silver | Usually copper

10k - Also: 16, 417, 10KP* |   41.6% pure gold (10 parts out of 24) | Usually silver, copper, zinc, and nickel

14k - Also: 583, 585, 14KP* | 58.3% pure gold (14 parts out of 24) | Usually silver, copper, zinc, and nickel

18k - Also: 750, 18KP* | 75% pure gold (18 parts out of 24) | Usually silver, copper, nickel, and palladium (for white gold)

22k - Also: 916, 917* | 91.6% pure gold (22 parts out of 24) | Usually silver and copper

24k - Also: 999* | 100% pure gold (24 parts out of 24) | None

900 Platinum - Also: 900 Plat, Plat 900, Pt900, 900Pt* | 90% pure platinum (900 parts out of 1,000) |    Ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, and other platinum group metals

950 Platinum - Also: PLAT, PT, 950 Plat, Plat 950, Pt950, 950Pt* | 95% pure platinum (950 parts out of 1,000) | Ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, and other platinum group metals

The term "karat" (usually abbreviated as "k," "K," or "Kt") refers to the relative purity of gold; pure gold is 24 karats. "Karat" is different from "carat," which is a metric unit of weight for gemstones.

In the context of gold jewelry, "plumb" is an old-fashioned term that means that the fineness or purity level of the gold content is precisely what is stamped on the item. The word "Plumb" or the letter P still sometimes follows the metal stamp (e.g., "14k Plumb," "14KP").

*Alternate stamp or European hallmark
**May vary depending on desired color, such as white gold or rose gold

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Mokume Gane

In Japan from the late 1600’s to the mid 1800’s the samurai sword transitioned from being a tool for fighting battles into a symbol of the warrior class.

The quality and quantity of decoration on the samurai sword handle and sheath became a symbol of social status and wealth. The level of craftsmanship that samurai sword smiths demonstrated is second to none. The sword smiths used a wide array of techniques to decorate these swords. The traditional technique of mokume gane (moku = wood, me = eye and gane = metal) was one such technique.

Mokume was invented by Denbei Shoami, a 17th century master metalsmith from the Akita prefecture, who used it for the adornment of samurai swords. Using the mokume gane technique the smith would create laminated metal billets that were fused by heat and pressure. The billets, composed of various combinations of gold, silver and copper alloys were forged, carved and finished to produce uniquely patterned metal stock which was then used to fabricate parts for the samurai sword “furniture”.

The beautiful patterns in these pieces for the handle would reflect similar patterns developed in the forging of the sword blade. Mokume gane was and still is a very difficult process to learn. This is partly due to the difficultly of successfully fusing the metals and partly due to the skill required to forge the laminated billet down to useable material without delaminating it.

There are only a few craftsmen in the world that have learned the ancient art of mokume and even fewer who have really perfected it. Michael Daniels Mokume is one of the few commercial enterprises that manufactures beautiful mokume gane for use in jewelry.