Metals

Interesting Facts about Platinum

Platinum is the rarest of precious metals (even more rare than gold!). Platinum is used in the production of nearly 20% of all consumer goods. During the last 20 years, however, demand for platinum jewelry has soared. Japan currently accounts for nearly half of platinum jewelry sales, but demand in the U.S. and China has risen quickly to match this demand. Platinum is desirable as a metal for use in jewelry because of its great tensile strength (which makes for the most secure stone settings) and a subtle sophistication that enhances the brilliance of diamonds. Nearly all the annual production of platinum comes from Russia and South Africa. With no large stockpiles, increasing demand has pushed prices to a recent high of $2,201 per ounce!

Platinum is believed to have first been used in jewelry making in approximately 700 B.C. by the Egyptians. Shepenupet, a daughter of the King of Thebes, is buried in a sarcophagus inlaid with platinum hieroglyphics. The source of this platinum may have been trace amounts in the gold that the Egyptians imported from neighboring Nubia. The first modern use of platinum in jewelry-making was by Louis Cartier in the early 1900s. Since then, with the discovery of large deposits of platinum ore, platinum jewelry-making has grown exponentially, becoming the preferred metal setting of British Royals and American celebrities.

Oster Jewelers has an extensive selection of platinum settings or we can create for you a unique setting that sets off perfectly the precious stones of your choosing!

Interesting Facts about Gold


Did you know?

  • Gold has been the most sought after precious metal for use as money, a store of value and in jewelry and since the beginning of recorded history.
  • Gold is unique in that it is the most malleable of metals; a single ounce can be beaten into a sheet of 300 square feet.
  • Gold does not rust or corrode.
  • All the gold ever mined and refined would form a cube 66 feet on a side.
  • One cubic foot of gold weighs more than half a ton.
  • The largest nugget of gold was found in Australia in 1869 and weighed 172 lbs.
  • Gold was first used in jewelry in approximately 4,000 B.C. in what is modern Eastern Europe.
  • The first gold coin was minted in Lydia (western Turkey) in approximately 700 B.C.
  • The most expensive gold coin in the world is the 1933 U.S. Double Eagle which sold at auction 2002 for $7.59 million.
  • In medieval times, nobility garnished deserts and drinks with gold leaf to demonstrate their high status and wealth.
  • The first gold rush in the United States did not occur in California in 1849; it occurred in 1838 in Dahlonega, Georgia and made famous the expression, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills.”<
  • 75% of current gold production goes to jewelry-making.

Gold: What is a “Karat?”

Percent of gold = Karat System
100% 24 karat
91.7% 22 karat
75% 18 karat
58.5% 14 karat
41.6 10 karat

Gold has been used in jewelry-making by man for an estimated 6,000 to 8,0000 years. Here are some of history’s most stunning examples of gold work:

  • A gold plated panel from the funeral shrine of Tutankamen (circa 1,550 B.C.)
  • A The Agamemnon gold funeral mask (circa 1,500 B.C.)
  • One of the first minted gold coins, Electrum (silver and gold), minted by the Kings of Lydia, Sixth century B.B.
  • Minoan gold bee broach, circa 1300 B.C.

Interesting Facts about Sterling Silver

Like gold, silver is too soft a precious metal to be used alone in jewelry making. So other metals are alloyed with silver to give it the durability needed for worn jewelry; this alloyed metal is sterling silver. Beautiful, yet very affordable, sterling silver is a perfect jewelry choice for anyone seeking a unique piece of jewelry from the multitude of artisans who work with this alloy.

Sterling silver is at least 92.5% pure silver, with remainder usually composed of copper. While copper gives sterling silver a desired level of hardness, it also imparts the tarnishing characteristic with which we are all familiar! Tarnishing is the chemical reaction copper has with oxygen that imparts a darkening or discoloration to the silver in sterling silver.

Fortunately, cleaning and caring for sterling silver is simple. Always clean sterling silver with a non-abrasive and phosphate-free cleaner and a soft cloth. Many cleaners and polishes are specifically suited for sterling silver and are widely available. Many people believe they can use toothpaste, but do not! It is too abrasive and may leave scratches! Silver is a very soft metal and even hard rubbing with a cloth will leave small scratches.

For long-term care, you should keep sterling silver in airtight, treated cloths or bags, which prevent tarnishing when not worn, or in use.

Interesting Facts about Vermeil

Vermeil, sometimes called silver gilt, is the process of plating a precious metal (such as gold or platinum) over sterling silver. The original fire-gilding process was developed in France in the mid- 1700s, but was later banned when it was discovered that the mercury used in the process caused workers to become blind.  Today, vermeil jewelry is made via an electrolysis process and offers jewelry connoisseurs a more tarnish-resistant and affordable alternative to pure metal creations.

To be considered vermeil, a 10 caret quality gold must be used to create a top layer at least 1.5 microns thick over sterling silver. Typically, the jewelry consumer can expect at least 14 carat gold to be used.  While more tarnish-proof than sterling silver, you should take the same care to protect your vermeil jewelry from corrosion and store it in an airtight container, such as a zip-lock bag. Never use a silver polishing cloth or machine polishing and avoid all abrasive or chemical cleaners, as these will remove your gold overlay. When polishing, use only a soft cloth! Be sure to store your vermeil jewelry where you minimize the chance of scratching.

Here is an interesting fact: The White House contains a “Vermeil Room,” which houses an entire collection of vermeil tableware donated by Margaret Thomas Biddle in 1956. The collection includes stunning examples of vermeil creations by French and English silversmiths, including Paul Storr, Pierre Philippe Thom ire, and Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot. A wine cooler is also housed in the "Vermeil Room" of the White House (circa 1810) crated by Paul Storr.