Ritters Jewellers

Ritters Jewellers

Caring for your jewellery

In jewellery shops around the world, you will find diamond rings and wedding bands in both gold and platinum. What are the differences between these metals?
Most importantly, white gold and platinum are not the same thing! Gold is naturally yellow in colour and in order to make it white, it is treated (i.e. mixed) with other alloys such as palladium. Gold is a relatively soft metal, so its alloys also give greater strength and durability to the final product.

Rhodium plating

A white gold ring is always plated with a very hard, white metal known as rhodium. To maintain the full whiteness of a white gold engagement ring, the rhodium must be re-plated about every 18 months. A platinum ring is naturally "white" and does not require plating. Platinum can lose its lustre over time and become grayish. A quick polish will rectify this. The topic of rhodium plating is one that is often discussed with customers. As explained earlier, white gold is treated to be white. As with all colours, white can have different shades, and in its raw form, white gold has a creamier-colour than platinum, palladium and rhodium. It is thus an internationally accepted practice to plate white gold with rhodium to make it even whiter. Over time, depending on how you look after your rings, they will require plating as the plating starts to wear off and you see the more creamy coloured white gold showing through.

Caring for your pearls

Cultured Pearls are precious jewels and require special care. The following are some important tips to help prolong the life of your pearls:
  • Don't toss them carelessly into a purse or jewel box where they can become scratched by hard metal edges or harder stones.
  • Don't expose them to acid-based hair sprays, cosmetics, or perfumes.
  • Don't clean them with chemicals or abrasives.
  •  Treat pearls gently. Place them in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.
  • Put on pearls after applying cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume.
  • Wash your pearls with mild soap and water after taking them off. This will remove all traces of perfume, cosmetics or hair spray from the pearls.
  • Bring your pearls back to your jeweller for restringing once a year. Cosmetics and ordinary wear weaken and stretch the nylon threads on which the pearls are strung. Rather be safe than sorry.
  • Have pearls strung with a knot between each pearl. This will prevent loss of pearls if the string should break.

FAQ

Purity

We use the term “karat” to describe the purity of gold. This can be confusing because we use the term “carat” when talking about the weight of diamonds. “Karat” simply refers to the purity of the gold in question: 24 karat gold is 100% pure. So if you are looking at a diamond ring that is 18 kt white gold, the ring is in fact 18/24 parts gold, or 75% gold. The remaining 6/24 parts (or 25%) are the other alloys. In South Africa, the most commonly used type of gold is 9 karat gold (37,5% gold). In America, it is more common to find 10 kt gold.

Which is harder, 9kt or 18kt?

We often hear customers asking: 'I’ve been told that 9 kt gold is harder and more durable than 18 kt gold. Is this true?' Well, whilst 9 karat is not as soft as 18 karat, there are other factors that affect how it appears over time. 9 karat gold has half the gold content of 18 karat. (Remember, 9 karat is 37.5% gold whilst 18 karat is 75% gold.) As a result, 9 karat gold doesn’t hold its lustre as well as 18 karat does. An 18 karat yellow gold ring will always appear shinier and more golden-coloured. An 18 karat white gold ring will also always appear to have a cleaner, whiter colour. The nature of gold is that it does scratch more easily than the alloys with which it is mixed. An 18 karat gold ring may get scratched a little more easily than a 9 karat ring, but both will get scratched over time, as would any metallic surface.

Platinum

Platinum is a metal commonly found in jewellery. It is much rarer than gold and also far more dense. Its density means that if you put two identically sized rings side by side - one gold, one platinum - the platinum ring would be heavier. It also means that a greater weight of metal is required to make an item in platinum compared to making the same item in gold.
However, platinum is almost 100% pure. Because of its purity, it needs little or no treatment on an ongoing basis. It will however scratch, just like any other metal. The significant difference is that a scratch on a platinum ring is merely a displacement of the metal and none of the volume is lost. The same cannot be said for gold. When you look at a ring in a jewellery store, it will be very difficult on first glance to tell if it is white gold or platinum and this is due to the rhodium plating that all rings have applied to them. (You can read more about this below.)
There are some other important valuable properties of platinum. As mentioned above, it is almost 100% pure which makes it more resilient to everyday wear and tear. It is extremely non-allergenic for sensitive skins and maintains its lustre a lot longer than gold. Interestingly, platinum is 30 times more rare than gold. It is estimated that if all the platinum in the world were poured into an Olympic-sized swimming pool, it would be barely enough to cover your ankles!

Palladium

Palladium is also a precious metal that is becoming increasingly popular for jewellery. It is part of the platinum family and is also almost 100% pure with a natural white lustre. However, it is not as rare as platinum, which makes it more economical to work with. It is also extremely durable and hard and lends itself extremely well to wedding bands. Palladium is a good choice if you are looking for a wedding band that will require very little maintenance.

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