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All weights pertaining to gemstones, including diamonds, are minimum weights. Additionally, please note that many gemstones are treated to enhance their beauty. Click here for important information about gemstone enhancements and special care requirements.
By far the most common color of gold used in jewelry, yellow gold is gold in its natural shade. Yellow gold is usually alloyed with copper and silver to increase the strength of the metal. How yellow the metal is depends upon the content of gold. A 14-karat piece of jewelry will have a brighter yellow hue than a 10-karat piece. Likewise, an 18-karat piece of jewelry will have a deeper yellow than 14-karat gold, and so on.
Although gold is most often thought of as having a soft, yellow glow, the metal is available in an entire spectrum of different hues. The different colors of gold depend upon with which metals the gold is alloyed, or mixed.
Increasing in popularity in recent years, white gold has become fashionable as the preferred cool and contemporary look. White gold boasts the same properties as classic yellow gold, but achieves its white color by mixing with different alloys. In general, white gold is created when a nickel or palladium alloy (zinc and copper) is used. White gold may also be plated with an even whiter metal, such as rhodium, to enhance its cool appearance. As well, a white gold setting can enhance the rapture of white diamonds.
Gold's softness and malleability make it a wonderful metal to work with when creating virtually any design in jewelry. But this softness can be a drawback as well. To make it stronger and more durable, gold is usually alloyed, or mixed, with other metals such as copper or silver. The higher a metal's percentage of gold content, the softer and more yellow the jewelry piece. The karat weight system used to measure gold in a piece is the same for all hues, including white and yellow gold.
The word “carat” is Arabic, meaning “bean seed.” This is because historically seeds were used to measure weights of gold and precious stones. In the United States, “karat” with a “k” is used to measure gold's purity, while “carat” with a “c” is used in measuring a gemstone's size. The karat mark of gold represents the percentage of pure gold to alloy.
In order to determine the karat weight of a specific item, simply look for the quality mark. Jewelry items will bear the stamp of their karatage based upon the United States or European system of marking. The United States system designates pieces by their karats—24K, 18K, 14K, 10K, etc. The European system designates pieces by their percentage of gold content. For instance, 10K gold is marked “417,” denoting 41.7% gold; 14K is marked “585,” denoting 58.5% gold; and 18K is marked “750,” denoting 75% gold; etc.
Mother-of-pearl is found on the shells of mollusks, such as mussels and oysters, and the shells of pseudopods, such as snails. When the young of these creatures come into the world, they create a shell "house" in order to preserve their existence. The walls of this housing are formed with layers of their secretions, ensuring a simultaneous growth of house and creature together.
Depending on the type of animal and the environment in which it lives, secretions create various shapes and colors found on the different types of mother-of-pearl. White mother-of-pearl comes from pearl-bearing oysters. It features high reflective properties and is one of the most commonly used types of this material. Iridescent mother-of-pearl is a type in which the colors of pink and green are predominant, while variegated mother-of-pearl is a multicolored type. Stone mother-of-pearl is white with a low reflective power, while mat mother-of-pearl is dull grey and also has a low reflective power.
The shiny quality of mother-of-pearl has attracted attention for thousands of years. The Louvre Museum features mother-of-pearl objects that belonged to the Sumerians and were found in Mesopotamia. In China, a dish with geometric-shaped pieces of mother-of-pearl was found that belonged to the Tang Dynasty in 618-906 A.D. Mother-of-pearl work was also common in ancient Italy, Greece and Cyprus. Today, different types of mother-of-pearl are commonly used in the art world. This type of art is certainly a challenge, for in order for them to be made into works of art, the mother-of-pearl pieces must be thick enough to withstand being worked upon and be of high enough quality to beautifully reflect colors of the rainbow.