Courtesy of ancientcoinstore.com
Jerry C. Jones
FINE SILVER. In its purest form .999 (9999 out of 1000) silver id
called fine silver.
STERLING SILVER. When silver is alloyed with 7.5 % copper it is then called sterling.
MEXICAN SILVER. Mexican craftsmen used to make a low-grade of silver which tarnished easily and the term "Mexican Silver" was synonymous with "cheap or shoddy".. Most Mexican shops now use the proper alloy
of silver and copper and is most often stamped .925 and this has given new respect to Mexican silver.
COIN SILVER. Historically coins have contained as much as 90% and as little as 50%. American coins minted after 1964 contain little or no silver because of the inflationary rise in the silver market. Older
silver U.S. coins are usually worth several times their face value.
GOLD. Gold has a long and extensive history. Gold-mining references appear on Egyptian monuments that date form the Fourth Dynasty (2900 B.C.E.). The amount of gold in each alloy becomes its karat number. Thus "14 karat" simply means there are 14 parts of gold in the 24 karats. Thus "14 karat" signifies 14 parts pure gold to 10 parts of
another metal. Copper is often added as is silver and platinum. The copper gives gold a more reddish color while silver turns it somewhat green and platinum makes gold white and very hard.
GOLD-FILLED. Gold-filled means a layer of karat gold has been
soldered or welded to a base metal such as bronze.
ROLLED-GOLD. Rolled-gold is very much like gold-filled but the gold content is much lower.
GOLD-PLATE. When an extremely thin film of gold is applied , perhaps as thin as 1/100,000 by electroplating then it is called gold-plate. Most jewelry that is gold-plated loses the gold very easily.
PLATINUM. Platinum is a steely grey color and although not as attractive as silver it does resist corrosion and oxidation. Platinum is too soft in its natural state to create jewelry so 10% iridium is
added to make it a good metal for jewelry.
COPPER. Copper is an inexpensive attractive metal that is most often used in industry.
Brass. Brass is an alloy of 65% copper and 35% zinc. It takes a fine polish and can be used whenever gold would not be cost effective. Unlike gold it odes tarnish when exposed to air and rapidly becomes discolored. There are many combinations of brass
alloys and the color depends on the mixture of copper to zinc.
NICKEL. Nickel is sometimes called German silver and is often used as a substitute for silver. It does polish to a high luster and resists corrosion and oxidation.
BRONZE. Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper. Prehistoric man discovered that the melting point of copper could be lowered considerably by the addition of tin and this is what led to the Bronze Age. Bronze was still being melted over pinewood fires in the
16th century. The mixture or tin most often varies form 5 to 20%. It weathers beautifully and oxidizes to the well known deep brown patina.
PEWTER. Pewter is an alloy of tin. Originally pewter contained large amounts of lead until medical science discovered the hazards or lead. A new alloy called Britanniahas replaced the old pewter but does not
oxidize as the old pewter did..
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