PRECIOUS METALS


    Do you know these terms?  Most people are not familiar with the precious metal industry, let alone know the different weights.   Most Weight and Measure tables do not describe these two unrelated weights.  Anyone  trading in precious metals should at least recognize the difference.   

    TROY WEIGHT IS THE GOLD STANDARD.  12 troy ounces to a gold pound.  31+ metric grams is equivalent  to 20 US pennyweight (DWT) per troy ounce.   

One DWT contains 1.553+ metric grams.   One metric gram weighs .643+ of a DWT.  A gold metric gram will weigh about 2/3 of a DWT.   

    This weighing system confused early Gold miners who couldn't read nor write.  During the California strike some of the literate ones began to question the assayers.  An honest trader finally broke the scam by showing the miners how 20 large US pennies nearly matched a TROY ounce of gold.  Each miner finally had a way to balance the scales against the GRAM SCAM.

    AVOIRDUPOIS weight is based on the standard 2000 pound ton: 16 ounces to a pound, 28+ metric grams to an avoirdupois ounce.  All living things are weighed using this formula. 

     A quick calculation reveals a buying and selling dilemma.  Sly gold buyers would pay TROY to the miners then sell  AVOIRDUPOIS to the seamen hauling the bullion around the horn.   To confuse the game even more, Gold in 1865 was trading for 12 to 16 dollars a TROY ounce.    

                                         Why use precious metals?  Stainless Steel with it's tremendous strength -- is inert and resists rust.  In jewelry those qualities are not enough.  Steel is COLD to the touch and brittle.

Silver, Gold and Platinum dominate the jewelry world.  Historically each has attained a traditional place.  In their pure form precious metals are not very durable -- although they are relatively warm.    

    Silver is predominately used for coinage, tableware and inexpensive jewelry.   Sterling Silver is blended with copper to increase durability and polish.  A single micron of white Rhodium plays an intricate part in keeping silver shiny.  Tarnish and softness are the undesirable qualities of silver.  Silver is very malleable and melts at a reasonable temperature.   Sterling Silver castings retain porosity (air bubbles), which weakens the finished article.  

    Die-struck silver coins are very tough.  Most fine silver products are die-struck (stamped cold) or fabricated from rolled mill stock.  Practically all silver 'gemstone' mountings contain pre-fabricated bezel settings.  Sterling silver is the softest precious metal used in the manufacturing of Jewelry.   

The average price of an ounce of Sterling Silver this year (2008) is  $17.00.    Sterling Silver is .925 pure silver and .075 copper.   

  Pure 24 Karat Gold is .999.9 fine.  Gold coinage is die-struck 21+ Karat.  Tough gold jewelry is 9K.  10K Class rings are very durable.

Most jewelry manufacturers depend on 14K  to retain a rich color and the inert qualities.  Like the old saying -- "14k won't turn your finger green."   

18K holds a prestigious position because of a richer color.  Through out India and China hammered 'THIN' 21 and 22 Karat are traditionally worn as status symbols.  The Brides of India own their golden dowries. 

    'Trading Gold' is quite common throughout the far East.     

     Platinum -- the Royal metal is the toughest and gray in color.  When influenced by a small amount (10%) of iridium this rarest of natural metals turns a startling white.  Platinum requires an intense white heat (3800F) to flow.  Platinum is usually fabricated or die-struck.  Because of rarity Platinum Smiths strive for perfection to reduce waste.  Platinum adheres to Diamonds like no other metal.  White gold and Platinum are once again climbing in popularity.       Through out the world precious metals trade for the same price per Troy ounce.  Each day the commodity markets in eight different locations around the world FIX their prices.  

One fact remains constant -- Precious metal owners hold the most durable wealth in the world.           

    There seems to be a ready supply of desirable mountings.  The question of COST plays a very small part when it comes to selecting a secure mounting to hold a rare precious stone.   

    Security, Stability, Structure and Style, the four 'S's to a successful design, should last for generations. 


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