Home > Rants > Jewelry Facts (list #1)

Jewelry Facts (list #1)

…since so few people know about this stuff….

1. There’s carat and there’s karat. Carat is a unit of weight used to describe gemstones, while karat is a measurement of purity in gold.

2. Karat gold is an alloy of pure gold. Only 24 karat gold is pure. To figure out percentages of purity, take 18 karat gold, for example. 18 divided by 24 is 0.75. This means 18 karat gold is 75% pure gold, and the rest is composed of base metals like copper an nickel.

3. Sapphire and ruby are the same stone, just different colors. The mineral is corrundum. You get blue sapphire from titanium and iron oxides. Ruby is corrundum colored by chromium. “Fancy colored” sapphires like yellow and orange sapphire get their colors from combinations of other trace minerals.

4. Same goes with emerald and aquamarine. They’re both part of the beryl family.

5. Gold is naturally yellow. To make it white, most companies add nickel as the main alloying element. Others will use platinum or palladium, but it’s most commonly nickel. It then gets coated with rhodium to keep it white/silver. As with all things in life, this is not permanent. If you’re a white gold buyer, expect to have your white gold jewelry re-dipped in rhodium every 3-5 years, depending on your body chemistry. It’s been my experience (especially in the case of rings), that people who sweat a lot will need to do this more frequently. Also, if you scratch your white gold jewelry, the ONLY way to elimate the scratches is to have it re-dipped in rhodium. If we buff it, all we’ll end up doing is removing the rhodium and turning it yellow again.

6. Roughly 13% of American women are allergic to nickel, and, believe me, it sucks if you’re part of that percentage, because white gold is in right now.

7. The only precious metal considered “hypo-allergenic” is platinum. Palladium counts, too, as a member of the platinum family, though some people still find that it’s gotta be platinum or nothing.

8. Silver is the most lusterous of the precious metals. Nothing else shines like it does when polished. Sterling silver is a silver alloy, since pure silver isn’t particularly useful in jewelry. Often times you’ll see a stamp on sterling jewelry that says, “925.” Sterling silver is, by definition, 92.5% pure silver, and the rest is base metal–usually copper.

9. It’s the base metals in precious metal alloys that tarnish, not the precious metals themselves.

10. “Nickel silver” jewelry is NOT sterling jewelry at all. It is, in fact, a compilation of base metals, none of which mesh with human skin very well. It usually gets coated with laquer or other cheap materials. Occasionally, it will get coated in rhodium, which as a member of the platinum family is valuable, but that’s usually not enough to keep your skin from turning colors.

11. It’s illegal in the U.S. to market any gold alloy lower than 10 karat as “gold.” Most gold-toned costume jewelry that isn’t nickel silver will be 9 karat (or less) gold.

12. When looking at prices of colored gemstones, the main value factor is, of course, color. Rarity comes in as a close second, followed by carat weight and cut. However, cut is usually considered the least important if you’re dealing with an especially dazzling gemstone.

13. Conversely, when looking at prices of diamonds, the main value factor is rarity. Color, carat weight and cut are also considered as value factors. The most rare diamonds are graded in the “flawless” category, with no surface blemishes or internal inclusions (such as crystals, fractures, clouds, etc.). They’ll also be completely colorless.

14. Most diamonds are either slightly yellow or slightly brown. They also come in “fancy” colors like pink, blue and bright yellow, but those are very rare finds.

15. Quartz is composed of silicon and oxygen. It’s one of the most common minerals on the planet, and it comes in many, many varieties, including (but not limited to) citrine, rose, green, amethyst, rutillated, smokey and lemon.

16. “Green amethyst” is a term that was made up by home shopping networks in an attempt to push green quartz sales. When people talk about green amethyst, all they’re talking about is QVC’s version of green quartz.

17. Smokey quartz gets referred to as “smokey topaz” so often my forehead is permanently in pain from all the times I slap it. Topaz is its very own mineral group. I suspect, though I’m not completely certain, that “smokey topaz” is like “green amethyst.” Given that quartz is so common, it makes sense that people would try to market it as something more rare, and therefore more valuable.

18. Just about all colored gemstones you see in a jewlery store’s cases have had some kind of treatment. Usually, it’s just heating, which is a permanent treatment, and it’s considered, “finishing what Mother Nature started.” For example, most tanzanite comes out of the ground an unattractive brown color. When cooked in an oven for a number of hours, the tanzanite will come out that pretty purple/blue color with which the average consumer is familiar.

19. People have been treating gemstones since as early as 200 B.C. E. A prime example of this is an Egyptian manuscript entitled, “Dyeing.” It describes multiple ways of altering gemstones (many processes having to do with heat), as well as gemstone care and cleaning.

20. Australia is the world’s greatest diamond producer by volume. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of their production is considered gemstone-quality, so most of it goes into industrial uses like, for example, dentist drills.

…and stay tuned in for more! πŸ˜›

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Categories: Rants
  1. Kasie
    August 11, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Great Post! This is so interesting! I’ve always wanted to learn more on the subject of jewelry. πŸ™‚

  2. August 11, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Interesting and lovely photos! I hesitate to ask about the chicken….

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