What defines a precious metal or stone? Whether it’s used in jewellery, coinage or for industrial applications, a precious element is considered rare, difficult to find and requires a process to mine and refine the ore to something usable.
The status of precious materials can change depending on known mining locations, if more sources are found or if the process for mining and refining the specific ore becomes more cost effective or easier. Precious metals can be formed into larger forms called bullions which are valued on their mass and purity, over their equivalent money face value.
Precious stones or gemstones are crafted from larger mineral crystal structures, although not all jewellery stones are mineral based, they are still considered semi-precious stones. While certain gems carry more “value” than others due to their rarity, most common gemstones are used across numerous jewellery price ranges, from designer to high-street.
What Are the Precious Metals Used in Jewellery?
The most common precious metals used in jewellery manufacturing are gold and silver, although you can also find platinum-based jewellery available for a much higher cost. Not only are these metals soft, making them easy to shape into preferred shapes and designs but they take longer to tarnish in the air than other soft, rare metals. You can see some of the types of creative designs that can be made from precious metals by following this link https://www.tateossian.com/tatgbp/cufflinks/gold-and-precious
Gold is naturally a bright yellow metal although when combined with other metals or elements can be coloured in shades of blue, purple, green, grey and black. The most popular colours of gold when used for jewellery are white, yellow and rose golds.
What Are the Precious Stones?
The names precious, semi-precious stones or gemstones covers a huge range of crystals, rocks or organic materials that are used in making jewellery. Specifically, mineral gemstones include Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald – which are considered the best and most expensive of the gemstone variety. You may also see jewellery pieces set with garnets, beryl, amethyst, quartz, moonstone and jasper to name just a few.
Organic materials include peals, jet and amber and are formed in different ways – pearls are created under the sea by oysters, jet is a form of decayed wood created under huge pressures and amber is fossilised tree resin.
The remaining gemstones you are familiar with including lapis lazuli, opal and jade are actually considered rocks, although they are made in drastically different ways. Lapis can be mined as is, hydrated amorphous forms of silica are considered opal, while jade is a compound formed from a rich mixture of elements including calcium and tremolite.
Why Do We Use These Materials for Jewellery?
Jewellery has been used since the dawn of mankind, whether it was used for protection or as a status of rank is still to be determined. However, later on during the Bronze era, gold coins and collars were often buried with the owner, so to accompany them on their journey to the afterlife. In some cultures, gold coins were buried with the deceased so to “pay the ferryman” in their next life.
Over time, jewellery of precious metals became a distinct status symbol for the rich or noble although it wasn’t until the mid-17th century did jewellery start containing gemstones of both mineral and organic varieties.
In modern times, jewellery is still a status symbol, however, has become more affordable for the common buyer, including precious metals and stones. Now we tend to use jewellery as a fashion statement, for instance, bracelets and necklaces. Or adorning our outfits with cufflinks, broaches or pins for attending special events and celebrations. It’s also common to see antique or expensive pieces of jewellery getting passed down family lines.