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White Gold Engagement Rings

White Gold Jewelry and Rhodium Plating

One of the most popular ongoing trends for engagement rings is that of white diamonds set into bright white metal. This white jewelry look is very modern and clean and has maintained its popularity for quite some time now. To achieve this all-white effect, diamonds are set into either platinum or white gold. Platinum is naturally a very white metal, but is the heavier and more expensive option. White gold is less costly and a lighter metal, but isn’t naturally a bright white colour. Therefore, white gold jewelry is almost always plated with a rhodium coating as standard practise in the industry.

Gold Alloys

Pure 24K gold is only found in one colour, and that is yellow. However, 24K gold is extremely soft and unsuitable for jewelry purposes, so the pure gold is mixed with other metals to create better working properties. This process is called alloying, and it can also be used to change the colour of the gold. White gold is created when pure gold is mixed with at least one other white metal, such as palladium, manganese, nickel, silver or zinc. 14K white gold is 58.3% pure gold while 18K white gold is 75% pure, with the remainder being a white metal. Although white gold is much whiter than yellow gold, it still has a slight shade of yellow or gray. It gained its popularity for jewelry use in the 1920s as a less costly alternative to platinum.

Rhodium and Electroplating

In the 1930s silversmiths began rhodium plating sterling silverware as they found this reduced the tarnishing and therefore the constant need to polish. This was then applied to white gold as well, as it made the jewelry look much whiter and similar to platinum.

Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is quite rare and expensive. It is hypo-allergenic, highly resistant to wear, tarnish and corrosion and it has high light reflection. Solid rhodium is rarely used in jewelry as it is extremely expensive and is a very brittle metal. It is much more cost effective and practical to use it as a plating. The official name of this process is called electroplating, where the piece of jewelry is submerged in a heated bath of rhodium solution and then an electric current is run through the bath using the jewelry as a cathode. This causes the rhodium in the solution to bond onto the jewelry. The solution is a mix of sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid or a combination of both, mixed with rhodium and water. A relatively small amount of rhodium can be used to plate many jewelry pieces, keeping the cost of the process down.

Care of Rhodium Plated Jewelry

The one drawback of rhodium plating is that it will wear off over time. The length of time depends on a few factors, such as the amount of wear and roughness the ring receives, its exposure to environmental factors and the wearer’s own body chemistry. Some people can wear a rhodium plated ring for three years before needing a re-plating, while others will need it re-plated more frequently. It is not wise to re-plate more than once a year because, while the rhodium plating doesn’t affect the jewelry, the jewelry does needs to be thoroughly cleaned and re-polished to remove all the old plating and re-polishing removes trace amounts of metal. This won’t affect your jewelry, provided it is not done too frequently, although over-polishing will eventually impact durability. The plating does not affect any diamonds or gemstones which are set into the metal, although it could affect some natural materials such as pearls.

At Kimberfire we provide complimentary cleaning and re-plating up to once a year for any of our white gold jewelry pieces, to ensure they maintain their bright white colour. Whenever you are purchasing white gold jewelry you should ask the jeweller about rhodium plating and if they include re-plating in their care policy, as it is important to know all the costs to be incurred in properly maintaining your purchase. White gold jewelry is both beautiful and popular and it is essential to know how to keep it looking its best throughout the years.

Platinum and Gold Rings

A Class on Gold vs. Platinum Jewelry

September is here, summer is coming to a close (sadly) and the kids are heading back to school. Whether starting kindergarten or first year at university, September is the month in which education is front and center. It is with that in mind that we will continue the learning process with a short course on the differences between yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum. While we can easily see the colour difference between the golds, what is it that makes them different? What do the different karats of gold mean? Is white gold or platinum better for a ring? We will provide you with all the information you will need to make a confident and knowledgeable jewelry purchase.

Pure Gold

Let’s begin by taking a look at gold. Gold is a chemical element from our earth that has been prized for its beauty throughout human history. Pure gold does not come in different colours such as pink or white, it is always only yellow. Gold metal is soft, malleable, has good tension and torsion strength and does not oxidize. The purity of gold is measured in karats which are measured out of a total of 24 parts, meaning pure gold is 24 karat gold. However 24K gold is extremely soft and unsuitable for jewelry, as it will bend and dent very easily. The solution for this is to mix the pure gold with other metals, a process called alloying.

Alloy Me to Explain

Pure gold is alloyed to change its working properties (such as hardness), change its colour or to reduce the cost of the material. Gold is commonly alloyed with copper, silver, zinc, palladium and/or nickel. Gold can be alloyed in 22K, 19K, 18K, 14K and 10K. 22K gold is not common in Europe and North America because it is still extremely soft, although it can be found in many Eastern countries. 19K gold is relatively new to the market, and therefore cannot be found everywhere. 19K gold is 79.2% pure gold with the remainder being other metals. 18K gold is a very common alloy and is 75% pure gold. The other most common karat is 14K which is 58.5% pure gold. 10K gold is a cheaper and harder gold alloy that is only 41.7% pure gold. For important jewelry pieces such as wedding and engagement rings we would suggest 19K, 18K, or 14K. An understanding of alloying explains how pure yellow gold is made into various colours.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is the traditional colour of jewelry and has a beautiful warm hue. Yellow gold is usually alloyed with a mix of silver, copper and zinc. If you have diamonds which are lower in colour it is best to set them into yellow gold as a white metal will show the yellow in the diamond more.

Rose Gold

Rose gold or pink gold was popular in the early 1900’s especially in Russia, and it was often referred to as Russian gold. After falling out of favour for many years rose gold has made a comeback and is now a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. It is a feminine metal that compliments all different skin tones. Rose gold is alloyed with copper and sometimes a small amount of silver or zinc. The colour can vary between a pale pink to almost a red depending on the amount of copper in the alloy.

White Gold

White gold first became popular in WWII as a substitute to platinum, as platinum was being put towards the war effort and its use in jewelry was prohibited. White gold is made by mixing pure gold with at least one white metal, such as palladium, manganese, nickel, silver or zinc. The one downside of alloying with nickel is that it can cause allergic reactions in some people. There are white gold alloys that don’t contain nickel and you can always ask your jeweller what alloy they use. White gold is not a pure white colour and has a slight shade of yellow or gray. To achieve that bright white colour the white gold is plated with rhodium, which is very similar to platinum but even harder and whiter. Rhodium plating will wear down over time and will have to be re-plated every few years.

Platinum

Platinum is also a chemical element from the earth. It was first used for jewelry by ancient South Americans in about 100AD, but their methods of working with platinum were lost with their culture. When platinum was re-discovered by the Spanish conquistadors they thought it was a lesser metal, and couldn’t work with it as it wouldn’t melt. Platinum has such a high melting temperature that its jewelry uses were very limited until the invention of the oxyhydrogen torch in the mid 1800’s. By the late 1800’s platinum jewelry was all the rage and was especially valued for diamond settings. Platinum was one of the most popular choices for jewelry until WWII when it was banned for all non-military uses. Yellow gold or white gold was the prevalent metal used for jewelry until platinum made its comeback in the 1990’s. Platinum is a dense, malleable, ductile, unreactive grey-white metal. In jewelry it is used in an almost pure form, usually 90-95% platinum. It is alloyed with a small amount of iridium or ruthenium, which are metals similar to platinum, which help make the metal easier to work with. Platinum is a very dense metal which means a platinum ring will be heavier than a gold ring. Platinum is also more expensive than gold because it weighs more and because it is a rarer metal. Platinum is very durable and doesn’t bend easily making it perfect for gem setting. Platinum does scratch easier than gold alloys, however when gold is scratched it is actually losing metal, while in platinum the metal is just being displaced. This leads to the patina finish seen in antique rings. To keep your platinum rings high polish they will have to be re-polished by a goldsmith on a yearly basis.

So Which Metal to Choose for Your Jewelry?

There is no right or wrong choice when deciding on a metal. Yellow and rose gold are chosen primarily for their colour and are an excellent choice for someone who likes a warm metal hue against their skin. For those looking for the white metal look that is extremely popular these days, the choice is between white gold or platinum. One is no better that the other, they each merely have different pros and cons. White gold is less expensive and lighter than platinum and is a strong alloy. However when it is scratched there will be some metal loss and it needs to be re-plated with rhodium every few years. Platinum is very pure and strong and perfect for setting stones. It has very minimal metal loss and can develop a beautiful antique look. It is heavier and more expensive than white gold. It does scratch more easily than gold and if a perfect high polished look is what you are after, it will have to be re-polished on a yearly basis.

Class Dismissed

Even though many of us aren’t back at school it is important to keep learning all the time. This short course was meant to help explain terms that we always hear about but perhaps weren’t really sure what they meant. This knowledge can help make the jewelry buying process much easier and you can be confident that you have made an informed decision. Class dismissed!

Diamond and Gold Jewelry on a Toothbrush

How to Clean Diamond Jewelry at Home

All that glitters is your gold… When you take the proper care.

The diamond is the best known gemstone in the world. Clean diamonds sparkle because the maximum amount of light can enter the stone and return to your eyes in a (Kimber) firey brilliance.

Diamonds and jewelry are designed and crafted to last you a lifetime, however, proper care is important in order to maintain the lasting qualities.

How to clean and care for your carbon crystals.

Some pieces, such as diamond engagement and wedding rings are often worn around the clock. If this sounds like you, learning how to properly care for them will go a long way.

Soap scum, hair conditioner, and dirty dishes, oh my! While diamonds are durable, they can easily become smudged, soiled and dusty thanks to lotions, powders, soaps and even the natural oils from our skin. All can create a film on your jewelry, cutting down on your sparkle potential.

Do not clean your jewelry with chemicals such as ammonia or bleach. These chemicals can wreak havoc on your jewelry, from discoloring bands, to dulling stones, to even eroding enamel or glue.

Do-it-yourself guide to cleaning your diamond jewelry.

I recently decided that it was time for me to keep calm, and for my jewelry items to sparkle on; so in true DIY fashion, I grabbed some gloves, an old toothbrush and some dish soap and got to work.

You can clean your diamonds regularly using a commercial jewelry cleaner, or use a mild detergent such as Palmolive dish soap like I did. I chose the Palmolive with the added citrus scent. This made for a very refreshing DIY experience.

Before you start cleaning, I recommend that you collect the following materials:

Latex gloves; small bowl; dish soap or alternate mild detergent; old (clean) soft-bristle toothbrush; lint-free cloth.

In a small bowl, create a mix of warm water and a mild detergent. The warm water will loosen up any oils on the stones. Then, place your jewelry in the bowl.

Soak your jewelry for a few minutes and then scrub with the toothbrush. Make sure to get under the stone as dirt and oil can easily gather there.

You can use a strainer to rinse the diamond jewelry, and then lay it flat to dry on a soft, lint-free cloth.

I guess I don’t need a new diamond ring after all…

Keep calm and sparkle on.

I am now a believer that with proper care and maintenance of your jewelry items, you will be delighted to see that your diamond really can sparkle and last a lifetime.

Now that your jewelry is at its sparkling potential, thanks to your time and efforts… what is the best way to properly store it?

I’ll be touching on this in my next article so make sure to check back for a very fun way of keeping your jewelry both safe AND readily available!

How did this process work out for you and your jewelry? Let me know in the comments below!