Gold is the most malleable and ductile metals of all, meaning that it can be easily shaped. It is resistant to corrosion and will not tarnish, and has no harmful health effects. Gold is desirable in jewelry because of its beautiful bright metallic luster and its warm golden-yellow color that is an excellent counterbalance for beautiful gems.
• Pure Gold
Pure gold, also known as fine gold or 24-karat gold, is too soft for jewelry. It is alloyed (mixed) with other metals to make it harder. The different combinations and amounts of metals create various colors of gold.
• Yellow Gold
Gold alloyed with an even amount of copper and silver.
• Pink Gold
Gold mixed with a higher amount of copper and a small amount of silver.
• Green Gold
Gold mixed with a higher percentage of silver and small amounts of copper.• White GoldAlloyed with white metals such as platinum, palladium, or even nickel, tin or zinc.
The purity of alloyed gold is measured in “karats” (k).24 karat (24k) gold is 100% pure gold. In the form of a fraction, it is 24/2418k gold, or 18/24, is 75% (.750) pure gold14k is 58.3% (.583) pure gold12k is 50% (.500) pure gold10k is 41.7% (.417) pure gold9k is 37.5% (.375) pure gold. In the United States gold must be 10k to be called gold. In Britain, 9k can be called gold. Europe uses a decimal to identify the purity as in the parenthesis above. The karat and decimal amounts describe the percentage of pure gold, but do not identify the alloys.
Contrary to its name, it is not filled with gold, but instead has a gold overlay. A layer of karat gold is bonded to a base metal that is usually copper or brass. It is required by law to be 1/20th by weight layer of karat gold. The layer makes the piece tarnish resistant and it will not peel or flake like gold-plated. The gold layer is usually 50 to 100 times thicker than that on gold-plated jewelry, and under normal circumstances it can last a lifetime. Mai Flores gold-filled jewelry is 14 karat gold-filled.
Gold-plated is a very thin film of gold, only a few microns, usually electroplated over a base metal. It is not a layer of gold as in gold-filled. • VermeilVermeil, pronounced vehr MAY, is gold plating on a sterling silver base.
Mai Flores Vermeil jewelry is 18 karat gold plated.
• Solid Gold
Solid gold means that an item is not hollow, but does not describe the purity of the gold.
Silver is the most reflective of all metals, even more than gold. This quality makes it great to set off gems in jewelry. After gold, it is the most highly malleable and ductile metal. Like gold, pure silver is too soft for use in most jewelry, so it is alloyed with another metal. The most common alloy is sterling silver. Unlike gold, however, silver is susceptible to sulfur in the air, which can make it tarnish. This is why it is important to keep silver jewelry in airtight containers when not being worn.
Sterling silver is made of 92.5% (.925) silver and 7.5% (.075) copper.