Jewellery buying Guide

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Need some help selecting the perfect piece of jewellery?

Here is information that we find helps us, when we are trying to find the perfect gift for the ones we love…

Anniversary Gifts

1st: Paper
2nd: Cotton
3rd: Leather
4th: Fruit & Flowers, or Linen & Silk
5th: Wood
6th: Iron/Candy
7th: Wool/Copper
8th: Bronze
9th: Pottery
10th: Tin/Aluminium
11th: Steel
12th: Silk
13th: Lace
14th: Ivory
15th: Crystal
20th: China
25th: Silver
30th: Pearl
35th: Coral
40th: Ruby
45th: Sapphire
50th: Gold
55th: Emerald
60th: Diamond





January Garnet Garnet
February Amethyst Amethyst
March Aquamarine Bloodstone
April Diamond Diamond
May Emerald Emerald
June Alexandrite Pearl
July Ruby Ruby
August Peridot Sardonyx
September Sapphire Sapphire
October Tourmaline Opal
November Golden Topaz Topaz
December Blue Zircon Turquoise or Lapis

Here is some useful information regarding precious metals that you may find us using on our website…

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium and Titanium are precious metals, meaning they are rare metallic chemical elements of high economic value, shiny, hard, strong with high melting points. They form alloys (mixtures) with other metals and this makes them ideal for jewellery.

Gold(Au) – Gold is a highly sought-after rare metallic element. For many centuries gold has been used for money, jewellery and ornamentation symbolising wealth and prosperity. Like other precious metals, gold is measured by troy weight and by grams. When it is alloyed with other metals the term carat (or karat in the USA) is used to indicate the amount of gold present. Pure gold is twenty-four twenty-fourths (24/24ths) gold, and is called 24-carat gold. Gold that is 18-caret gold is eighteen twenty-fourths (18/24ths) gold and six twenty-fourths (6/24ths) other metals. Only 24-carat gold is 100% pure gold. Its chemical symbol, Au, is short for the Latin word for gold, “Aurum”, which means “Glowing Dawn”. Is a very soft metal when it is pure (24ct). It is often alloyed with other metals to make it harder though this lessens the value. Pure gold has an attractive bright yellow colour however when alloyed with other metals it can come in other colours. It is non reactive to air and water.

Silver(Ag) – Silver was once thought more precious than gold. It is a very soft metal and is often mixed with an alloy like copper. The term “Sterling Silver” probably originated in eastern Germany where they minted coins of .925 percent silver. When Britain sold cattle and grain to this area they were paid in “Easterling coins”. These coins were found be be resilient and durable so King Henry II decided to adopt the standard .925 coins for Britain’s own currency and set up a royal mint to produce silver coins. The term easterling silver was eventually shortened to sterling silver. To be sterling silver, the metal is made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
Silver has been used to make jewellery for many thousands of years. These days most silver is produced as a by-product of copper, gold, lead, and zinc mining. Silver tarnishes after exposure to air (a thin layer of silver oxide forms on the surface). The best way to deal with this is use silver dip or wipe with an impregnated cloth. We can also repolish any item to return it to its original condition.

Platinum (PT) – Platinum is more precious than gold, it is a very strong dense metal that never corrodes. In its pure form it is harder than gold and silver so for jewellery it is alloyed with 5% of other metals, usually Iridium (another even rarer metal in the platinum family) to make it more workable. Naturally-occurring platinum has been known for a long time. The metal was used by pre-Columbian Native Americans, the first European reference to platinum appears in 1557 in the writings Julius Caesar Scaliger as a description of a mysterious metal found in Central American mines. It is a rare greyish white metal, ten tons of ore have to be mind to produce a single ounce of platinum. The word platinum comes from the Spanish word platina, meaning “little silver.” Platinum exists in relatively higher abundance on the Moon.

Palladium (Pd) – Palladium was discovered in 1803 and named after the asteroid Pallas. It is an element belonging to the platinum group of metals, Palladium is steel-white in colour, except in powder form, when it appears black. Palladium resists tarnishing in air and if annealed (a form of heat treatment) it is soft and ductile. Most palladium is used for catalytic converters in the automobile industry, it is also used in dentistry and now in jewellery due to its naturally white properties. It will develop a hazy patina over time and will discolour at soldering temperatures. Palladium becomes brittle with repeated heating and cooling. Palladium is one of three most used metals which can be alloyed with gold to produce white gold. Palladium-gold is a much more expensive alloy than nickel-gold but is hypoallergenic and holds its white colour better.

Titanium – Titanium is not a rare element, its the 9th most common element, accounting for 0.6 % of the earth’s crust. The name titanium comes from the Titans of Greek mythology, known for their superior strength. It is a silvery white non ferrous metal with the highest strength to weight ratio of any known element, 85% of the structural components in the Space Shuttle are made of titanium. Titanium does not react to salt, water, sunlight or any body chemistry, has a diminished potential for causing an allergic reaction and is corrosion resistant. Titanium has become more popular for jewellery in recent years. Titanium cannot be repaired or soldered.

Assay – An assay is a test of the purity of an alloy. A tiny area of metal is scraped from the piece of jewellery and the percentage of gold or silver is determined, it is then given the appropriate Hallmark.

Hallmark- These are the authorised stamp impressions that indicate maker, standard of fineness and the Assay office the Hallmark was issued. Click here to read more about hallmarks and see example.

Types of Finishes – We are able to offer the following finishes Sand Blasted, Satin, Rhodium Plating, gilding, Hard Gold Plating, Silver Plating and Diamond Cutting.

Plating – Plating is a process that coats a metal usually with a bright coloured plating changing the original appearance. It makes standard yellow gold chains change to a gleaming yellow or white metal to a mirror like finish with rhodium. All white gold contains a trace element of yellow gold and to compensate for this manufacturers plate the metal with rhodium (which is part of the platinum family of metals)which gives it a very strong white colour. This colour is more in keeping with the public perception that white gold is actually white rather than an alloy of yellow gold. Pieces of jewellery are put into chemical baths that have the various plating solutions in. An electronic current is passed through the plating solution which causes the plating to bond onto the metal. If the item has two different colours then we first have to mask off the metal that we do not wish to be plated leaving exposed the area that needs plating.
N.B. Gilding and Rhodium plating are the two most common types of finishing we carry out, these are only a very thin surface covering and will usually only last a limited period of time depending on wear and tear. Customers should be advised to take care to prolong the life of the plating.

Rolled Gold – Rolled gold is a very thin sheet of gold that is laminated to a lesser metal (usually brass or copper). The two layers of metal are heated under pressure to fuse them together. The sheet is then rolled into a very thin sheet and then used to make jewellery or other objects e.g. pens. The gold will wear off over time, we can guild certain items. gilding is a very thin surface covering and will usually only last a limited period of time depending on wear and tear. Rolled gold pieces are marked rolled gold plate, R.G.P., or plaqué d’or laminé.

Enamelling– There are two types of enamelling – Hard and Cold.
Hard enamelling is the fusion of a special powdered glass to metals. The glass powder can be applied using different techniques, but all methods use heat to melt the powder. We don’t undertake hard enamelling on the premises, as this requires specialist equipment it has to be sent away.
Most jewellery now is cold enamel which doesn’t have the durability of hard enamel.
Cold enamelling refers to enamel paint which we can do on the premises.

Laser soldering requires less heat to repair jewellery. This is beneficial in cases where a jewellery items contains more fragile gemstones, previously these stones would have to be removed. Silver jewellery can be repaired much more easily with this process. We can also repair metals that are non-precious, such as those used in costume jewellery or fashion accessories.

Faulty Gold – Sometimes during the repair of an item the gold appears to shatter or snap this is due to the fact that the metal is faulty, if this occurs the item is unrepairable. The fault occurs during the manufacturing process of the item due to such factors as overheating during the casting process or impurities in the metals.

Metal Allergies – If wearing certain jewellery causes localized areas of skin to become itchy, red and/or swollen this can indicate an allergic reaction to the metals in jewellery. Nickel is the most common culprit; if a 9ct gold piercing, bracelet, necklace or ring is causing a reaction, it’s the nickel in the gold—not the gold itself—causing the problem. Women are more commonly affected by a nickel allergy than men. People rarely have a reaction to pure gold (24k), platinum or titanium. There is a risk of allergic reactions with sterling silver too. European Directive 94/27/EC was made UK Law in 2000 and specifies the upper limit for nickel release in articles which have direct and prolonged contact with the skin – such as Jewellery, fashion accessories, and metal adornments for apparel. It also specifies the upper limit for nickel content in specified articles.

The term hypoallergenic was made up in the 1950’s as part of an advertising campaign and has since been adopted to indicate that the metal used has a diminished potential for causing an allergic reaction.

Tarnishing – Some, not all, metals tarnish. The discoloration occurs when the metal is able to react with or be attacked by something that can make a chemical compound with the underlying metal. (A chemical compound is a substance consisting of two or more different elements chemically bonded together). Silver can react with oxygen or sulphur compounds to form a brownish-to-black tarnish film. This is due to the formation of oxides (An oxide is a chemical compound containing at least one oxygen atom as well as at least one other element) and/or sulphides (a compound of sulphur and an element that has a more positive electric charge) on the metal surface. Because of the small particle size, the oxide/sulphide particles on the surface appear black, so the metal loses its lustre. Pure gold is resistant to such reactions however lower carat golds are all alloys of gold with other metals and as such can tarnish. Wherever it occurs, tarnish almost always looks very different from the original polished metal. Tarnish is removed either by employing another chemical reaction to dissolve the tarnished surface or by using a mild abrasive to actually polish away the discoloured compound on the metal to expose the underlying metal again. Ordinarily, such cleaning processes remove very little of the original metal.

And we also use terms in relation to precious stones, so here is some more information that is helpful when considering what is best to buy…

While fine jewellery is usually high in monetary value, what often makes it exceptional is that it’s steeped in significance. A piece of jewellery frequently has a particular aura that does not fade; it is with it that we mark the milestones of our lives—engagement, marriage, friendships, parenthood, birthdays, travels, traditions, and love. Jewellery, some argue, emblematizes the sublime.

When we consider some of the materials jewellery is made with—metals derived from the earth’s crust and gemstones, which, like crystals, have significant metaphysical properties—it’s hard to deny the cosmic allure. These materials have been honoured, according to Maria Leach’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, “back beyond recorded history.” Ancient Roman texts note that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with magical diamonds. In Eastern narratives, dragons were often depicted with flaming, wish-granting pearls under their chins or in their claws. In early written accounts, people adorned themselves with feathers, bones, shells, and coloured pebbles. We now, of course, refer to these arrangements of naturally occurring materials as jewellery —and now, the coloured pebbles are known as gemstones.

Here, a look at the history of some favourite gemstones and their mythological meanings.

In Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” In ancient Hinduism, it was believed by some that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna could be reborn as emperors. Rubies were divided into four castes. The Brahmin, for example, granted the advantage of perfect safety. The stone is also mentioned at least four times in the Bible, usually as a representative of beauty and wisdom. Numerous early cultures believed, because of the stone’s likeness to the colour of blood, that rubies held the power of life. Among European royalty and the upper classes, rubies were thought to guarantee good health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. They’ve became some of the most sought-after gems.

Lapis lazuli has always been associated with royalty and deities, and it may be where the idea of royal blue came from. Egyptians believed that it came from the heavens and provided protection in the afterlife, so they used it in their statues of the gods, in totemic objects, in jewellery, and in burial masks. In the epic poem Gilgamesh, Sumerians spent years traveling from one end of Asia to the other in order to mine and obtain the stone. Lapis is included in numerous other myths but has served practical purposes as well: Ancient Egyptians used it to create blue cosmetics, and during the Renaissance, painters ground the stone to make ultramarine pigment, often used for skies and seas. Lapis was often placed in tombs alongside the deceased in Asia, Africa, and Europe as well.

According to legend, an emerald was one of the stones given by god to King Solomon—a gift that endowed the king with power over all creation. The Incas used them in both their jewelry and religious ceremonies, but the Spanish—who generally treasured gold and silver far more than they did gems—traded the stone for precious metals. In doing so, they made European and Asian royalty privy to the stone’s majestic qualities. Some even believed that placing an emerald under the tongue could help one see the future, reveal truths, and be protected from evil spells. Wearing an emerald was believed to grant a person the ability to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath.

Though technically fossilized tree resin and not a stone, amber is still considered a gem. In Norse mythology, Freyja cried tears that turned into gold and amber when her husband was away. Amber is affiliated with electricity and light: We derive the word electricity from the Greek name for amber, elektron, and the stone, once believed to be made of congealed sunlight, was sacred to the Greek god Apollo. The Chinese believed amber to be the soul of the tiger transformed after death.

In Hindu mythology, moonstones are believed to be comprised of solidified moonbeams. Other cultures associated this gem with moonlight as well; the geological structure of the stone scatters light, creating a phenomenon called adularescence, which visually resembles scattered moonlight. Similar to beliefs about emeralds, some ancients thought that placing a moonstone in the mouth during a full moon could help a person glimpse his or her future.

The symbolic properties of tourmaline vary quite a bit by region. According to Egyptian legend, the stone found its array of colors (tourmaline commonly occurs in pink, blue, yellow, green, and red) when it left the earth’s center and passed through a rainbow. Some African and Australian shamans believed that they were teller stones that could locate sources of trouble, provide insight, and suggest direction towards good. In numerous cultures, black tourmaline was believed to protect against dark magic, and Native Americans gave certain shades of the stone as funeral gifts.

Diamonds are the only gemstones comprised of one pure element, carbon—the molecules of which bond in perfect symmetry and make the hardest naturally occurring substance on the planet. Due to these physical properties, they’ve long symbolized power, strength, innocence, incorruptibility, longevity, constancy, and good fortune. There is a Buddhist teaching, one of the most important Mahayana sutras, called the Diamond sutra.

Early gem cutters cited topaz as a stone capable of protecting against disease and untimely deaths, strengthening the intellect, lessening anger and sadness, and eliminating cowardice. Topaz was said to be able to cool boiling water, become invisible in the presence of poison, and create its own light. The mystic and Roman Catholic saint Hildegard of Bingen claimed that she read prayers in a darkened chapel by the light that emanated from a topaz.

Labradorite has the capacity (called labradorescence) to change in color when stricken with light. Native Canadians believed that the gemstone could increase energy, reduce stress and anxiety, protect its wearer from danger, and aid in communication with supernatural forces.

Garnet was another of the stones thought to be given by god to King Solomon. Hades gave pomegranate seeds, which are often associated with the stone, to Persephone before she left him as a token of safety, so garnets are often given as gifts upon departure for travel. When given in this context, they’re believed to grant quick, safe returns and eradicate the emotional distance between separated lovers. Garnets also have ties to light and to work: Plato is said to have had his portrait engraved on a garnet by a Roman engraver, and it’s said that Noah used a finely cut, glowing garnet to illuminate the ark. For their color, garnets can symbolize the blood of Christ, and in the Koran, garnets are said to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems.

Cat’s Eye
Cat’s eye was believed to protect soldiers from death by making enemies believe that their targets were already dead. In Hindu lore, the placing of a cat’s eye on one’s “third eye” was believed to increase psychic abilities and drive evil spirits away. Each of these beliefs stems from the fact that the stone’s dark bands appear to transform into bright ones, and vice versa, as it is turned. This phenomenon demonstrates that opposites are not mutually exclusive: Dualistic doctrines—light as a symbol for goodness and dark as a symbol for bad, for example—are artificial and subjective and can be dissolved.

Agate is believed to endow those who wear it the favor of god and a bold heart. It is also said to increase fidelity in marriage and love. Roman farmers once carried talismanic agates in the hope that the heavens would grant them bountiful harvests. The ancient Persians, relatedly, believed that agate could divert storms.

Opals are made when bits of silica gel get deposited into the crevices of rocks. They’ve long been regarded as one of the luckiest and most magical of all gems because of their ability to show many colors. According to Arabian legend, opals fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning. In Greek mythology, Gyges found an opal ring that made him invisible. He then killed the king of Lydia and married the queen. Despite the implications of this myth, opals are affiliated with hope, purity, and truth.