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Crafts people today take gold, silver, and other metals, and use the techniques of granulation, casting, engraving, chasing, and piercing to produce beautiful jewelry, just like the metal smiths of Ancient Egypt and Asia Minor did ages ago.
While most contemporary and vintage jewelry is marked, and gives us a great basis for dating a piece, there are many unmarked beauties out there that require a little detective work to uncover the date of production. Most antique fine jewelry is made from yellow karat gold or silver.
Platinum is a strong metal giving jewelers of the time the ability to create elaborate filigree and openwork, styles we most often associate with the Edwardian era.
Platinum is used in its alloy form, with a traditional purity of 90-95%.
This finish will not hold up to daily wear in an item such as a ring, and will not survive some types of repair work.
For as long as gold and silver have been used in the production of jewelry, someone has been trying to duplicate the look with something less expensive.
For decades manufactures have used this process on the prongs of a piece.
When white jewelry, including platinum, made a strong comeback in the 1990’s, some manufacturers simply started plating yellow gold rings with rhodium.
Some white gold is relatively brittle due to the presence of nickel, which causes a loss of malleability and ductility.
Some antique pieces, constructed from yellow gold, have silver work added, often in areas where stones are set.
Because yellow gold imparts a yellowish tint to colorless stones when used for setting, adding silver minimizes the effect.
The majority of pieces made before the mid-19th century will be European, which includes Great Britain and Russia.
The practice of hallmarking jewelry and objects made of precious metal started in the 1400’s and continues to the present. Not everyone hallmarked their work, and the passage of time and repair work has marred or eliminated many marks.
Iridium is usually the other material used in the alloy.