Metal Education


Metal FAQ

How do I select a metal for my jewellery?

Selecting a metal type comes down to your personal preference for desired functionality, look and feel, as well as budget.

  1. Know your budget: Contemporary metals are the most cost effective. Silver and gold are usually more affordable than other precious metals, but if you want something more luxurious, consider platinum or palladium.
  2. Know your lifestyle: Know what kind of lifestyle you live. Know what environments your jewellery will be in. Are you working around chemicals, are you active and need something more durable, or are you wanting a statement piece that will be worn in more luxurious settings?
  3. Know your style and preferences: 3. Your personal styles and preferences will impact which metal you choose. Start by considering the colour of the metal, as different metals offer unique colours and finishes. Consider the occasions you'll be wearing your jewellery.
    What is a Karat?
    With gold, the term “Karats” refers to the metal’s purity (not to be confused with “carat” which is used for measuring a gemstone’s weight). There is a good chance that the ring on your finger is marked 18K, 14K, or 10K. These are the most common karats of gold used in jewellery.

    How do you know the purity of gold?

    There are 2 systems that are used to denote gold purity. 
    The Gold Karat System:

    The Gold Karat System measures gold purity in 24 parts. This system is uses karats to describe the percentage of pure gold that an item contains. The higher the number of karats, the purer the gold. 24 karats are the purest.
    A gold karat mark includes a number followed by a K, KT, or Kt. Common gold karat stamps are 10K – 14K – 18K – 24K. For example, 18K means that the composition of metal is 18 parts pure gold (75%) and 6 parts alloys (25%).

    The higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of gold in your gold jewellery.
      • 24 karats - This is the purest form of gold. In this state, there are no alloys added to the metal, which leaves it rather soft.
      • 18 karats - This is a purity that means there are 18 parts gold to 6 parts alloy metals. This is usually the ideal form for high quality jewellery.
      • 14 karats - The most common type of gold used for jewellery, it has 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloy metals.
      • 10 karats - 10 karats - This is the minimum standard in the U.S. for jewellery to be labeled “Gold” and has 10 parts gold to 14 parts alloy metals. 

    The Millesimal Fineness Scale:

    Millesimal fineness is a system of denoting the purity of platinum, gold and silver alloys by parts per 1000 of pure metal by mass in the alloy. A fineness mark is stamped as a three-digit number that indicates the percentage of pure gold in the item. The higher the number the purer the gold.

    For example,  in this scale 18K would be denoted as 750 which would indicate that the composition of metal is 75% pure gold and 25% alloys. Many European countries use decimal hallmark stamps (i.e., "585", "750", etc.) rather than "14K", "18K", etc., which is used commonly used in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

    It is an extension of the older karat system. The millesimal fineness is usually rounded to a three figure number, particularly where used as a hallmark, and the fineness may vary slightly from the traditional versions of purity.

    The fineness of a precious metal object represents the weight of fine metal within, in proportion to the total weight, including all base metals and impurities.

      • 999 - 24 karat, which is commonly referred to as three nines fine
      • 750 - 18 karat - 75% Gold & 25% Alloys
      • 585 14 karat - 58.5% Gold
      • 500 12 karat  - 50% Gold & 50% Alloys
      • 417 10 karat: This is the minimum standard in the U.S. for jewellery to be labeled “Gold”

    What are precious metals?

    Precious metals are rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value. Examples include gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, and iridium.
    They are also important for their physical properties, such as their high electrical and thermal conductivity, malleability, and resistance to corrosion. Precious metals are usually found in ore deposits and are separated from other metals by chemical processes.

    What are non-precious metals?

    A non-precious metal is any metal that is not classified as a precious metal and are not considered to be rare or valuable. Examples of non-precious metals include aluminum, copper, iron, nickel, lead, zinc, and tin. These metals are used to make everyday items such as tools, appliances, and vehicles. Non-precious metals are also used to make coins and jewellery.

    What are contemporary metals?

    Contemporary metals are metals that are used in modern-day applications. They are typically characterized by their strength, versatility, and light weight. Examples of contemporary metals include aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and copper alloys. These metals are used in a variety of applications, such as aerospace, automotive, and construction. They are also used to create lightweight and durable products, including furniture, aerospace, electronics, medical equipment and jewellery.

    What are contemporary metals vs non-precious metals?

    Contemporary metals are more modern types of metals that have been developed in recent years. Non-precious metals are traditional metals such as iron, steel, brass, and copper. Contemporary metals tend to be more lightweight, resistant to rust, and often more expensive than non-precious metals. They are also more malleable and can be used in a wider variety of applications. Non-precious metals tend to be more durable but may be more susceptible to rust and damage. They are also generally less expensive and easier to find than contemporary metals. Contemporary metals also tend to be more aesthetically pleasing due to their colour and shine.

    What are Recycled Precious Metals?

    Recycled precious metals are precious metals that have been reclaimed and refined from various sources, including scrap jewellery, electronic waste, industrial waste, and other sources. These metals are processed and refined to remove impurities, and then sold or reused.

    Precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium are highly valued for their rarity, beauty, and durability. Recycling these metals helps to conserve natural resources, while mitigating the environmental impact of mining, and reducing waste.

    Many jewellery manufacturers, electronics manufacturers, and other industries that use precious metals, have established recycling programs to collect and reuse these materials. Calico purchases customers pre-owned jewellery and scrap gold. We also offer credit towards new jewellery or use their old jewellery in a new custom designed piece. With the current high price of gold, using your old jewellery will be of financial benefit to you and have a positive environmental impact. We are committed to environmental responsibility throughout our jewellery production processes.