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Introduction to Gold and Platinum

Without gold, it is said, there would be no jewelry. For thousands of years, men have fought, sailed oceans, braved jungles and moved mountains for gold. Every great civilization has left a legacy of gold jewelry that unfailingly dazzles the modern eye.

Too soft for tools or weapons, gold was thought to be the metal of the sun, coveted for its natural beauty and worshiped for its mystical powers. Today, gold is cherished not just as a rare precious metal. Its physical properties are unrivaled for creating fine jewelry.

Stretch an ounce of gold into 50 miles of fine wire. Hammer an ounce into a square, 100 feet wide. It resists tarnish and rust. It is immune to corrosion, oxidation and acids. Gold’s value comes from both its beauty and scarcity. All of the gold mined in the past 6,000 years would fit into a cube 60 feet tall.

What are Karats?
Karats are a measure of the percentage of gold to alloy contained in gold jewelry. Gold is mixed with alloy for strength. Metal stamped 24K, meaning 24-karat gold, is considered pure gold and too soft be used for jewelry. More common 18K gold contains 75% pure gold. Jewelry marked 14K appears the most widely. Anything under 10K cannot be labeled or sold as gold.

Yellow gold, capturing the metal’s classic natural color, is by far the favorite. Copper and silver are the alloys used most with yellow gold. For the fashion-conscious, white gold is hot and trendy.

The value of gold jewelry is based on several factors: fineness or karat count, weight in grams and the workmanship reflected in the piece.

Platinum The Royal Metal
From ancient Egypt to pre-Columbian South America, platinum plays a leading role in the creation of exquisitely fine jewelry. Not until the 18th century did it begin to appear in the jewelry of Western Europe. It soon became the metal of royalty.

Platinum ranks among the rarest of metals. Ten tons of ore yield one ounce of platinum. For every 15 to 20 ounces of gold extracted, only a single ounce of palladium is mined. Mountains of rock must be crushed to meet world demand and the refining process takes nearly a half-year. Unlike gold, which doesn’t work well in its purest form, platinum is used in jewelry at 90-95% purity. Platinum of this fineness is stamped 900Pt, 950 Plat or just Plat. Even in this pure state, platinum contains five other metals -- iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium. Like gold, it is tarnish and rust resistant.

Safekeeping Gold and Platinum Jewelry
Many of us treasure the gold and platinum jewelry pieces that have become family heirlooms. Proper care protected the jewelry as it passed from generation to generation. When you purchase gold or platinum jewelry from ICE, we hope you will follow a few simple rules for its care and safekeeping. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasives. Don’t wear rings, bracelets and other jewelry while working with power tools. Store each piece separately in a soft cloth pouch or in the separate compartments of a jewelry case. Check that gem settings are secure. If not, ask a professional jeweler to re-set them.

 

Introduction to Pearls
The magical luster of pearls has fascinated women and men alike for thousands of years. Pearls conjure up visions of tropical South Sea islands and beautiful waters. Where pearls were first discovered is unknown. Bits of irritating debris, perhaps a grain of sand, causes oysters to transform them, layer by layer, into objects of great beauty, prized throughout history.

We know pearl divers risked their lives to bring these treasures to the surface. The Middle East, India and China are thought to be among the earliest civilizations recognizing the attraction of pearls. The finest of all pearls come from the Persian Gulf. The Chinese believed pearls poured from the mouth of their rain god. The Romans used pearls in love potions. Caesar may have invaded Britain for pearls.

How are Natural Pearls Created
Natural pearls occur when an oyster seeks to protect itself from a tiny intruder that gets inside its shell. Intruders in the form of sand or pieces of shell are layered over with nacre. Nacre, a secretion of mother-of-pearl, builds up over time to form a spherical pearl. The luster created by the accumulation of nacre is highly prized and an essential quality of fine, natural pearls. Natural pearl-bearing oysters live along coasts at a depth of 50 feet. The Persian Gulf has yielded some of the most lustrous pearls since antiquity. They are renowned for their red and creamy white sheen. Smaller, seed pearls - mainly pinky red and soft yellow - are found in beds in the Gulf of Manaar, between India and Sri Lanka.

A tour of other natural pearl beds leads to the waters off Japan, the South Pacific Islands off northern Australia and the Gulf of California. The coasts of Panama and Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea, are also rich birthplaces of natural pearls. Fishing for natural pearls has declined, as cultured pearls have grown to account for some 90 percent of the pearl trade.

How are Cultures Pearls Created
Cultured pearls are cultivated by inserting a mother of pearl bead inside the oyster. In response, the oyster deposits the pearlescent nacre around the bead. When the process begins with man’s help, the intruding bead is typically much larger than a grain of sand. Creating a cultured pearl takes much less time than for a natural pearl, but three years is typical. Cultured pearls require only a single layer of nacre to develop an attractive luster. Japanese and Australian coastal waters are the main sources of cultured pearls. Careful cultivation produces pearls of fine color and iridescent luster. Non-round, irregularly shaped pearls have grown in favor with pearl lovers and jewelry designers alike. The largest of all cultured pearls thrives in the warm coastal seas of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Called South Sea pearls, they come in many colors, from various whites and white pinks, through golds to blue gray.

 



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