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Precious Metals Education and History

Precious metals are rare. They have a high luster and are more malleable than other metals. They can be molded, polished, engraved, and shaped into almost anything. This makes them an ideal choice for creating beautiful handcrafted jewelry. The most common metals used for making jewelry are; silver, gold and platinum. All three of these metals possess a high luster and provide a durable base for any type of fine jewelry.

Throughout the ages precious metals have been crafted into jewelry like handmade rings, earrings and pendants — but they also became a form of currency. There came a time when bartering became too cumbersome and people realized they needed a tangible way to pay one another for goods and services. Soon precious metals like gold and silver were weighed, stamped and given a monetary value. This is how currency came to be. Precious metals were easy to transport, a valuable commodity and something that could easily be used, traded and recognized all over the world – and they still are today.


Pure Silver – or “fine silver” is 99.9% pure. It is a very soft and malleable metal – but not quite as soft as pure gold. It is, however, much too soft to make functional objects out of it. It must be alloyed with another metal to give it strength and durability.

Sterling Silver - is made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy – typically copper. The reason copper is alloyed with silver is - after much experimentation - it was found to be the best compliment to the metal and didn’t diminish silver’s natural color. Other metals are alloyed with silver – sometimes to try to prevent it from tarnishing – but none have stepped up to replace copper as the standard. If something is sterling silver it is usually stamped with 925 or sterling.

Silver is the least expensive of the precious metals because it is much more abundant than platinum and gold. The price of a silver piece – such as jewelry, flatware, tea sets, etc. – is largely determined by the hand engraving, craftsmanship, and time that goes into creating it.

Silver does have a tendency to tarnish when it reacts with hydrogen sulfide or sulfur in the air. This means it must be cleaned regularly to prevent build up. Many times silver is rhodium plated to prevent tarnishing and to give silver a bright white finish

Rhodium – is a very rare metal. It is a brilliantly white and part of the platinum group. Unlike platinum, gold, and silver, it is not malleable. It is actually extremely hard and very difficult to work with, so it is not common to see jewelry or anything else made purely of this metal. It is, however, perfect for plating other metals - such as white gold, silver and even platinum - to give them a bright, white sheen. The rhodium that is used for this is actually a chemical plating solution. It does need to be re-applied every now and then, but it makes the piece look shiny and new once again.


Gold has been the metal of choice used to create some of the world’s most famous jewelry pieces. It is the most ductile and malleable of all the precious metals. It does not tarnish, rust or corrode. It also serves some very practical purposes as well, since it makes a wonderful conductor. In its natural state, gold is always found in the warm, rich, buttery tone we all love but it can be alloyed with other metals to produce other colors such as; white gold, green gold, and rose/pink gold.


Pure gold is extremely soft and must be alloyed with other metals to make it stronger. Some of the most common types of alloys are silver, copper, zinc and nickel. A quality rating - using karats - was developed to help people determine how pure a gold piece is:

24k – 100% pure gold

22k – 91.7% pure gold

18k – 75% pure gold

14k – 58.3% pure gold

12k – 50% pure gold

10k – 41.7% pure gold (this is the lowest combination to legally be considered real gold in the U.S.)


Yellow gold is most often alloyed with copper and silver. The more alloys that are added to the gold – the stronger it is. This means a piece of handmade designer jewelry in 14k gold will be harder than a 22k piece but the 22k item will have a much richer tone to it because it has more pure gold.


Because gold is yellow in its natural state it must be alloyed with white metals to create white gold. To do this gold is commonly alloyed with zinc, silver and palladium. In most cases, white gold is also rhodium plated to give it a bright white finish.


Platinum is the rarest of the three precious metals – it is also the most durable. It will not change shape or wear away like gold and silver do. It is also 95% pure, which makes it an ideal choice for people with metal allergies. It is commonly alloyed with iridium, ruthenium, or palladium. Platinum is also the most expensive of the three precious metals because of its rarity – it is about 30 times more rare than gold.

Most of the handcrafted rings, earrings, and pendants that you will find on Veizman.com are available in 14k yellow gold, 14k white gold with rhodium plating, or 18k yellow gold. Yoni Veizman is also pleased to offer some of his incredible designs in rhodium plated sterling silver as well. 18k white gold is available upon request.