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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.
Jewelry metals are very much on the minds of
jewelry makers and buyers right now. Specifically, the price of gold, platinum,
Jewelry metals have been climbing in cost for a few years
now. This, of course, can reduce peoples ability and desire to buy jewelry.
Gold is a prime example. The spot price of
"pure" (9999 fine) gold on the last day of January, 2008, was more
than $925 per troy ounce, or almost $30 per gram.
(A troy ounce is equal to 31.1
grams. A troy ounce is about 10% heavier than a US (avoirdupois
measure of weight) ounce. We could devote an entire Newsletter edition to a
discussion of the troy ounce, avoirdupois
ounce, and fluid ounce.)
The chart below from Kitco Inc.
depicts the rise in gold prices between the year 2000 and now.
The saving grace for gold is...
Eighteen karat gold is 75% gold by weight, and
25% other material, such as silver, zinc, and nickel, depending
on the color of gold (yellow, rose, white, and so on).
gold = 58% gold content, 12 karat = 50% gold, and 10 karat =
41.6% gold content. Alloying reduces cost and improves
durability of gold jewelry.
Regulations have established 10
karat as the lowest that can be labeled "gold" in the
USA. Below that, we get into gold filled, gold plated, gold
overlay, and similar trade terms.
Platinum has also undergone
a price increase in recent years. The current spot price is
above $1730 per ounce. Ten years ago, it was below $400.
Rhodium is even more
amazing. The price has risen from $380 to more than $7210 in
the past five years.
Palladium is a
real bargain. After spiking to almost $1000 a few years ago, it
is now at less than $400 per ounce.
Although all of these metals are used in some jewelry
making, they do not seem to help us in a quest to moderate the
cost of jewelry.
Silver is at only $16.50 per ounce! That's 16 dollars
and 50 cents. Now that is moderate.
Sterling silver (92.5% pure, often stamped 925), and fine
silver (999) are most often used in modern silver jewelry sold
in the USA, even Southwestern "Indian" Jewelry.
Many years ago (before the native artisans had the equipment
to melt silver) this jewelry was made from US or Mexican silver
coins. To thin and enlarge the disks, the artisan would lay the
coins on the railroad tracks and let a passing train do the
heavy work. Truly old and authentic Indian Jewelry often shows
the coin image on the back of the silver disks.
Jewelry metals can also be less traditional, and more
challenging for the small-shop jewelry maker.
Vermeil is another moderately priced
alternative. Vermeil consists
of a base of sterling silver, plated on all significant
surfaces with gold, or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat.
is 90% Grade A Tin, with the remainder composed of
metals appropriate for use in pewter.
Brass, copper, titanium, steel, and
other base metals also are used by some makers. Titanium and
steel are more easily used in larger scale manufacturing
operations. Surgical steel is popular in body piercing jewelry,
while stainless steel and titanium are popular for watch cases
Click on the box...
and have Google start putting money in your bank account!
jewelry metals is a keyword search phrase that returns a number of
internet listings and ads... but none that invite you to Make
Gem Industry News...
Gem Shows Coming Soon
It's February and time for the Tucson Gem Shows.
I count 42 shows this year. They're scattered all over town
The dealer-to-dealer unofficial trading known as Jump
Start has been going on for several days. Official show
openings begin February 1. The shows that we concentrate on
open February 6.