Jewellery Buyers Guide
Sterling silver is a beautiful precious metal that can be polished to a highly reflective finish or patterned with satin and decorative finishes.
Sterling silver has been used in the U.K for hundreds of years to make jewellery, household silverware items, regalia and trophies. Sterling silver is denoted by a hallmark with a “925” stamp signifying that its alloy is made up of 925 parts of pure silver in a thousand parts of the metal alloy (the other metals are mostly added to make silver stronger and harder wearing).
As sterling silver is such a pure metal it does make it quite hypo-allergenic , but this purity does mean it is quite soft and therefore silver jewellery can be damaged if knocked or pulled, and we would not recommend sleeping in your silver jewellery.
Silver jewellery is very reasonably priced, making it an ideal option when you need a great value gift of jewellery in a beautiful precious metal, (or just fancy treating yourself to a lovely piece of jewellery without spending a lot!). We have some fabulous jewellery designers who make some of our beautiful silver jewellery including Georg Jensen, Shaun Leane, Clogau & Rachel Galley.
We recommend cleaning silver with professional cleaning products that will restore the bright shine of silver without damaging the metal – there is a choice of silver cloths, rouges or liquid cleaners that we keep a range of in store (prices start from £6.99).
Gold jewellery is available in a choice of fineness purities, the two most popular of which in the U.K are 9ct and 18ct, but you may also see 14ct. 9ct is characterised as having 9 parts of pure gold out of a total alloy mix of 24, other metals being added to it to make it harder wearing and lower priced than 18ct.
18ct gold tends to be a deeper yellow in colour than 9ct as it has double the amount of gold present in its alloy mix (18 parts of pure gold out of a total alloy mix of 24 parts), but this does not necessarily mean that it is softer than 9ct as the technology used to create the alloy mixes has improved greatly in recent years, making 18ct harder than some of the older alloy mixtures. 18ct gold being the higher fineness of gold is used by the prestigious jewellery designers such as Fope, Marco Bicego and Georg Jensen.
White gold can be found in all purities of gold – 9ct, 14ct or 18ct, and is created by adding other metals to the gold (such as silver and palladium) to change the colour from yellow to a whiter metal colour. A good quality white gold will be a grey tone in colour and then the white gold is plated with another precious metal (rhodium) to make it a bright white colour. This rhodium plating will need to be re-applied periodically as it will wear off over time.
To clean gold jewellery we sell a range of professional cleaning products that will remove the tarnish that can form on the surface of gold after a while. If gold jewellery is heavily tarnished we recommend having it polished by our goldsmith who will restore the gold to its appearance when new.
White gold jewellery can easily be re-rhodiumed thus making it look bright white and shiny again, and is a simple process that can often be done within 7-10 days at a small cost.
Rose gold is available in all the different carats of gold (9ct, 18ct etc) and has a rosy-pink colour to the gold, that is created by adding other metals (one of which is copper) to the gold when creating the alloy mixture.
Platinum is a naturally white metal, therefore does not need a white coloured plating to enhance the colour, unlike white gold. Platinum is the rarest of the precious metals and is also very strong and hard-wearing, making it a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings or other styles of ring to be worn every day.
The fineness of the platinum alloy we use in our jewellery is “950” meaning that there is 950 parts of pure platinum in an alloy mixture of 1000 parts (you may also see “900” grade platinum , but we do not use this as it is not as fine a grade of metal alloy). As 950 platinum is such a pure grading of precious metal it is a good choice for anyone who suffers from metal allergies.
As platinum is a harder metal than gold it means that the claws on a ring will often last longer and not need re-tipping as regularly. Therefore it is not particularly necessary to choose platinum for your necklaces or earrings as they will not be subject to the everyday knocks and bangs that a ring is, but it does make it a practical choice for a ring you wish to wear regularly.
We recommend having your platinum rings professionally re-polished every now and again when the metal starts to look a little dull as it will completely transform the platinum back to the bright finish it had when new. This service is available for a small cost and does not take long to do.
Sapphire comes from the word “sapheiros” which means “bright blue stone” in Greek and has been cherished for thousands of years for its colour, durability, hardness and lustre. Ancient Mediterranean culture honoured sapphire above all other gems, and early Buddhists believed in its power for spiritual awareness. One of the world’s most famous blue sapphire engagement rings is worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, which previously belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Sapphire and Ruby are both members of the “corundum” gemstone family, which comes in many different colours – all of which are called sapphire (for example pink sapphire , yellow sapphire etc) and only the red variety are called ruby. Nevertheless, the most desired and valuable sapphires are those of the deep blue variety, with a rich, royal blue colour.
Sapphires can be carefully cleaned with the professional jewellery cleaner liquids which we sell in store (prices start from £6.99), and we do recommend having rings set with sapphires periodically checked in store for damage or chipping to prevent loss of the gemstone, because although sapphires are one of the harder gemstones available they can be damaged if knocked or banged.
Often referred to as the king of precious of gemstones, ruby is the red variety of the gemstone family known as corundum. The name comes from the Latin “ruber” meaning red. Red is often considered the colour of our most intense emotions –love and anger, passion and fury. Early cultures valued rubies for their similarity to the redness of the blood that flowed through their veins, and believed rubies held the power of life. Many Medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth wisdom and success in love!
Ruby retained its importance with the birth of the western world and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty and the upper classes.
The colour of ruby is caused by traces of chromium and the depth and brightness of the red colour is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s value. The most sought after colour by collectors worldwide is a deep red with a hint purple, sometimes termed “pigeons blood” red in the trade.
As ruby is part of the same gemstone family as sapphire it has the same hardness (which is technically classified as 9 on “Mohs scale of hardness”, with 10 being the hardest).
Ruby can be cleaned with the professional jewellery cleaning solutions we sell, or in an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner.
Emerald has enthralled the elites of civilisations with its stunning beauty and symbolic power for over 6000 years. The name comes from the old French word “esmeralde” through Latin “smaragdus” through Greek “smargdos”. One of the world’s first emerald mines in Egypt was named Cleopatra’s Emerald mine” because of her love for the gemstone.
Emerald is the green to bluish-green variety of the gemstone family “Beryl” (of which Aquamarine and Morganite are also part) and they are coloured by trace elements of chromium and vanadium. The most desirable emerald colours are bluish green to pure green with strong to vivid colour saturation and medium to medium-dark tone. An emerald’s hue, tone and saturation determine its value.
Emeralds are inherently more included than most other gemstones, therefore unlike most other gemstones visible inclusions are acceptable in emeralds unless they are so numerous as to affect the transparency of the stone. The most prized emeralds are highly transparent with even colour distribution and no obviously visible colour zoning.
Emeralds should be treated with great care when worn, as although they are hard, they are also quite brittle which means they can be easily damaged or chipped if knocked. Emeralds should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner or with other chemical cleaning solutions as they contain natural oils that can be dried out by chemical cleaners, leading to cracking or fractures within the emerald.