The Craft of Jewelry

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The word jewel comes from the French word “Jouel” and Latin word “Jocal” meaning plaything. Jewelry is the art of wearing decorative items for self-adornment. The Craft of Jewelry is considered to be the oldest and most expensive art of metalwork.

 

The craft’s ornaments include rings, earrings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, tiaras, amulets, crowns, cuff links, brooches, chains, pins, household objects and many more.  Alongside metals, precious gemstones too gain a higher value when engraved as beautiful ornaments for wear.

 

Throughout human history, jewelry has had various applications, they are:

 

  • As Self-adornment
  • As fashion ornaments
  • As an artistic display
  • As something of personal value, such as love, grief or a memory.
  • As an indicator of social status, such as wedding and engagement.
  • As a showcase of ethnic or religious values

 

This craft is immensely diverse among different cultures. As each culture have used jewelry in different manners, there will always be similarities of metalwork, use of gemstones and rare exotic items.

 

 

 

Jewelry History

One of the important ways of determining the way of life of ancient cultures has always been through recognizing what type of jewelry they had used and for what reasons.

 

The non-reactivity of precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum and other gemstones like diamonds and pearls, have safeguarded and preserved the history of these ancient cultures.

 

The oldest pieces of jewelry ornaments date back to 7000 years in Sumer. Other ancient and powerful empires such as Egyptians, Mesopotamian, Indians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans also have a share in this.

 

 

Egypt

The Egyptians loved to work with gold over anything else and the first fragments of Egyptian jewelry date back to 5000 years. Egyptian empires have symbolized jewelry with power and influence over the people.

 

Their idols were made out of gold and if not, had huge golden necklaces while the temple monks held valuable treasures in their possession. The pharaohs also used to show off their jewelry in attempts of dictating superiority over the common people.

 

The wealthy people of Egypt wore expensive ornaments in life, and even in death, were buried with their treasures, so that they could have a great time in the afterlife. The unique methods of Egyptian jewelry were also traced in the Middle East and Byzantine, proving there were trades between these empires.

Mask of Tutankhamun

 

Mesopotamia

Today’s Iraq and Syria were known as Mesopotamia in ancient times, and were home to the popular cities of Babylon and Sumer. Jewelry craft in Mesopotamia also traces back to 5000 years.

 

These people favored shaping gold into leaves, spirals and grapes and combined them with precious stones such as lapis lazuli, to decorate themselves, their idols and statues.

 

 

Greece

As old as the Greek Empire was, their use for jewelry were not common or symbolic, rather they would wear it only to show wealth, social status and beauty (in women). Their main technique included casting, twisting bars and making wires in the forms of wreaths, bracelets and earrings.

 

Greek jewelry was simpler than other cultures, and much of the designs were taken from Asia when Alexander the Great conquered and returned. Most jewelry ornaments were dedicated to the gods and to oppose the “evil eye” given by other people.

 

 

Rome

As the Roman Empire conquered large parts of Europe, other factions began developing jewelry of Roman design. Like the Greeks, Roman jewelry was also to ward off the evil eye. Roman governors used to wear specialized rings used for marking and waxing secret documents.

 

Their common ornaments were crude gold earrings, necklaces and bracelets, with the most common being the brooch, used to secure clothing.

 

 

Indian subcontinent

India has a long history of jewelry because of their abundant supply of precious metals and gemstones, dating back to almost 8000 years. The Hindu tradition associates gold with sun and immortality because of its anti-corrosion properties, and silver with moon, both of them were considered sacred metals.

 

Maharajahs and people associated with royalty had a special value for jewelry. Navaratna (nine gems) was a huge golden necklace with 9 gemstones engraved in it that only the Maharajah could wear.

 

The 9 gemstones: diamond, pearl, ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, cat’s eye, coral, and hyacinth (red zircon), were each correlated to a deity.

Navratna

 

Indian people were the first to mine diamonds and use them for people of royalty and trading. Mughal emperors and Kings inscribed their names on them as a sign of their immortality and influence on history.

 

Today jewelry is a common attribute of Indian people who attend a wedding or a ceremony, especially among the women.

 

 

Central and South America

The three major empires of Central and South America, The Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, developed the craft of jewelry 5000 years ago. The above three and other Andean empires such as Mochica of Peru, had access to large amounts of gold and made amazing designs.

 

With the Mochicans, gold work jewelry hit its peak. Nose, ear and chest ornaments were considered the work of noble goldsmiths of Peruvian culture.

 

Gold jewelry was the most common among the Aztecs too. Only noble people were allowed to wear them to show their social rank, power and wealth. Mayans also used to make jewelry out of gold, but also with silver, bronze, copper and jade.

 

The earlier Mayan jewelry were made from stone and bone since they did not have access to metal. In addition to adornment, these cultures used jewelry in sacrificial rituals as well.

 

 

 

Jewelry Process

We all know the materials used in the production of various jewelry. Precious metals, gemstones, exotic wood and others, sometimes only one and sometimes all of them combined can result in the perfect piece of jewelry you are looking for.

 

Now of course, each of these substances walk through a series of unique methods to make their way into your fashion or decoration.

 

The process of jewelry are as follows:

 

  • Mining
  • Dissociation
  • Forging
  • Casting
  • Soldering
  • Cutting and carving
  • Polishing and plating

 

Mining

Before you can start the process of making jewelry, you have to find the location of raw material used in it. While the precious metals and gemstones can be found all over the world, some places are luckier than others, and at the same time much more unfortunate.

 

You see, precious metals and minerals attract greedy people with evil intentions, and most often they step on the throats of others to reach their goals.

 

Here is a list of some countries that hold mountains of precious material:

 

  • United states with the most Gold reserves (8140 tons)
  • Mexico with the most Silver (5600 tons)
  • South Africa with the most Platinum production (161000 kilograms per year)
  • Russia with the most Palladium production (80000 kilograms per year)
  • Russia with the most Diamond production (40 million carats per year)
  • Kazakhstan with most Uranium production (23000 tons per year)

 

It is worth mentioning that most African third-world countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, DR Congo and Angola also have huge mines of gold, platinum and diamond. It is one of the main reasons that they are war-torn.

Africans working in a gold mine

 

Today two types of mining are performed to excavate precious materials, surface mining and underground mining. Usually the latter has proven to be more beneficial in locating valuable metals and minerals.

 

 

Dissociation

Usually related to metals, after they are found and mined, you need to separate and isolate them since most are found mixed and alloyed with each other. You are either required to isolate metals from rock or one metal from another by melting them.

 

Mostly precious metals are found as electrum (gold and silver), a platinum nugget (platinum family metals mixed), gold nuggets and natural copper alloys (bronze and brass). Minerals are usually found in pure form such as diamonds or pearls.

Electrum

 

 

Forging

In order to structure the metal into a desired shape, a metal is melted then hammered, this process is known as forging. Even though it this has a lesser application in jewelry, eventually all kinds of metals need to be forged, including precious ones. Forging has a greater use in the steel and aluminum industry.

 

 

Casting

Much like forging, casting is the same process but instead of hammering or pressing, the molten metal is poured into a mold or a crucible to obtain its shape. Casting is the applied procedure of shaping precious metals.

 

These were the two most prominent methods of metalwork in medieval ages, forging for swords and casting for sculpture and jewelry making.

 

 

Soldering

Soldering is the method of connecting two pieces of metal, just like welding but in a small scale. Unlike welding, which requires metal to melt for it to stick, soldering is gluing the fragments to one another.

 

Today it has a wide variety of applications in plumbing, electronics, musical instruments and metalwork including jewelry. There are three types of soldering:

 

  • Soft soldering (lead-tin alloy)
  • Silver soldering (silver alloy)
  • Brazing (uses brass as filler alloy)

 

 

Cutting and carving

Most famous among lapidaries (people who collect and work with minerals and gemstones), cutting and carving are two of the most basic processes used in decorative items and engraved gems.

 

Most of the jewelry pieces contain one or multiple gemstones engraved in them, while casting, soldering and polishing are attributes of metalwork, cutting and carving are performed on gemstones.

 

A precious stone like diamond is not naturally found the way you see it on TV or the internet. It is manually cut, polished and carved into the metal of jewelry later on (or not). Though, those who work with diamonds are called gem cutters, not lapidaries.

 

Carving can be done on metals as well, for example when you order a particular name to be written on a ring or pendant.

 

 

Polishing and Plating

Most people picture cleansing an already owned piece of jewelry from dust and scratch when polishing is mentioned, where in fact it is done before you buy them at the last stage of jewelry process.

 

Without it, your golden ring may appear as a cheap copper circle on your finger, and your expensive platinum bracelet as rusty old nickel. It is the polish that provide a metal its true exterior.

 

Plating on the other hand can be done before or after the process. Some people order a gold-plated silver jewelry for a lower price, and some people go to the jewelers for rhodium-plating.

 

Even those gold and silver medals you see at the Olympics are not 100% pure, but rather plated. Polishing and plating are the most important things a piece of jewelry undergoes, without them the efforts of the previous steps are of little value.

 

 

 

Jewelry Types

Today there are hundreds of jewelry types with names you have never heard of in your life. When I first started researching, it came to me as a shock to see so many types, techniques and appliances of this beautiful ornaments.

 

Excluding some special ones, almost all of them are designed for self-adornment. The type of jewelry is directly related to the part of the body it is worn on.

Indian Actress Urvashi Rautela

 

A simple series of examples that all of us are familiar with are that earrings go with ears, necklaces go with neck, bracelets go with hands and rings go with fingers.

 

But do you know what type of jewelry can be worn on the head, hair, nose, lips, tongue, upper arm, thumb or feet? Fear not, here you can learn all about them.

 

 

Head ornaments

Any type of jewelry that can be worn on your head, hair, face and ears can be listed under this category, these also include various piercings. Head jewelry ornaments are:

 

Crowns:

Worn on the head to showcase royalty or authority in ancient times. There are many types of crowns and half-crowns each worn under specific circumstances, they are:

 

Coronet:

A small crown with ornaments fixed on a metal ring. It completely covers the top of your head and is an English royal adornment.

 

Corolla:

A small ancient circlet used to show authority or victory, mostly worn by Roman people.

Diadem:

Like corolla, a simple metal headband worn by Greek men. In women, it is more fashionable and covers the forehead.

 

Kokoshnik:

A traditional headdress worn by women in Russia.

Makuta:

A traditional pointed headdress made out of gold and worn by the women of South Asian nations.

Khepresh:

A war crown worn by the ancient Egyptian military.

Tiara:

A jeweled half-crown worn by women in certain ceremonies, such as proms or other formal occasions.

 

 

Earrings:

The most typical and ancient piece of jewelry worn on the ear, earrings can also be of many types depending upon different cultures around the globe and the location they are worn on the ear, they are:

 

Statement earrings:

The most uniquely designed earrings decorated with a combination of materials.

Stud earrings:

worn on the earlobe like a clip-on, but smaller and not dangly.

Hoop earrings:

Bigger than a normal ring, hoop rings are decorative circles worn on earlobe.

Dangle earrings:

They are designed to hang from your earlobe and can be 2-5 centimeters long. Examples of it can be clip-ons and traditional earrings.

Barbell earrings:

Shaped like a barbell, these can be worn mostly on top and middle of the ear and are small.

Huggie earrings:

Just like stud rings, but more in number. They come in two’s and four’s, and decorates half of your ear.

Thread earrings:

Consists of a slightly longer dangly metal chain thread that can be put into your earlobe. You can add beads to them too.

 

 

Hairpin:

Mostly used among women, hairpins have many applications, from preventing hair streams to coming to your face, to using them to fashion your hair.

 

The most common example of a hairpin is the bobby pin. The oldest recorded usage of hairpin was among the Egyptians and Chinese.

 

Chinese women used to have amazingly long hairs, and so the hairpin was a huge part of their fashion. Chinese royalty women used to wear huge golden hairpins.

 

The girls who hit puberty took part in a ceremony wearing hairpins, showing that they are ready for marriage. Younger ones beaded their hair and were not allowed to use hairpins.

 

 

Hatpins:

Used for holding the hat to the head, hatpins are functional and decorative ornaments mostly used in western culture among women, or in eastern culture to hold the veil. A hatpin is normally 15-20 centimeters long.

 

 

Nose pins:

A simple clip-on circlet that is worn on nostrils. Indian and South-East Asian women use them in their daily fashion.

 

 

Nose rings:

Similar but bigger than nose pins, nose rings are also a feature of Indian women.

 

 

Turbans:

A traditional clothing part of Islamic and Sikh culture, turbans were widely worn among Muslim and Hindu princes, sultans and rajahs. Unlike the common people whose turbans are made from a piece of cloth, the wealthy people’s royalty’s were engraved in precious metals and gemstones.

 

Even today, some people wear turbans in places like Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India.

 

 

 

Neck Ornaments

Neck is one of the most beautiful and attractive parts of a woman’s body. Throughout history, exposing the neck and displaying levels of cleavage with a fine piece of jewelry, have been a huge feminine cultural attribute.

 

Precious metal neck adornments first originated in ancient Egypt, as a sign of exhibiting wealth and military rank, though both men and women wore them.

 

After that women of several other cultures adapted wearing a golden or silver necklace with or without an engraved gemstone.

 

There are several types of jewelry that can be worn on the neck, they are:

 

 

Necklace:

The oldest kind of jewelry worn by humans, a necklace is a circle metal chain often connecting a series of gemstones or a locket and is worn around the neck.

 

Prehistoric necklaces were made of stones, bones and feathers. In ancient Babylon, gold, agate and lapis lazuli necklaces were common, and in ancient Egypt, collars made of precious metals and stones. Pendants and amulets were attributes of Greeks.

 

Necklaces are categorized by the length:

 

Choker:

A tight-fitting circlet worn around the neck, usually made of plastic, leather, velvet and metal.

Princess necklace:

A little longer than a choker, these are often metallic and have name engravings.

Matinee:

Usually 60 centimeters long, it is a metallic necklace engraved with gems that rest upon cleavage of women.

Opera:

Slightly longer than a matinee, opera necklaces rest on the breastbone, could be metallic or made from beads.

 

 

Pendant:

The word pendant comes from the French word “pandere” which translates to “hang down”. Accordingly, a pendant is an object attached to a metal or leather chain or beads.

 

Pendants are worn for self-adornments, displaying personal values, cultural and religious beliefs. The pendant is usually worn around the neck, but sometimes as earrings as well.

 

Pendants come in all shapes, sizes and material. Here are some types that you may be familiar with:

 

Amulet:

The most common types of pendants, amulets can be worn around the neck, arms and legs if the person desires. Most of the times, amulets represent a person’s cultural and religious values through a symbol or writings, such as the six-pointed star or Hindu/Muslim holy words.

Talisman:

A talisman is more ancient than an amulet but similar in meaning, although talismans were believed to contain magical powers. It can be metallic engraved in gemstone.

Locket:

Mostly worn around the neck, lockets are smaller than the previous two with a feature that it can be opened, and you may most likely find an old picture or writing inside it. Lockets often hold personal value to the wearer.

 

Medallion:

Given to particular people as awards, rewards, recognition or religious blessings, a medallion is shaped like a big coin and is usually plated with gold or silver. You have most likely seen them in competitions like the Olympics.

 

 

Torc:

Torcs are ancient ornaments worn around the neck. It is a single or multiple pieces of thick metal connected together in the shape of a horseshoe. Torcs were common among the Greeks, Romans, Celtics, Vikings, ancient England and Germany, but of course, no one wears them today.

 

 

 

Arm and Hand Ornaments

The most common jewelry that you can wear in your hand are rings and bracelets. Just like the previous wearable ornaments, these too carry specific values for the person.

 

Depending upon the culture and ceremonies, there are particular rings and bracelets to wear, such as the wedding and engagement rings, or friendship bracelets.

 

Here is a list of the most common jewelry type that you can wear on your arms and hands:

 

Ring:

Perhaps the most worn piece of jewelry by both men and women is the ring. It is a round object, mostly made out of precious metals like gold or silver, and sometimes from leather, wood and plastic, that is worn on the finger.

 

However, there can also be toe rings, arm rings, neck rings and earrings.

 

Authority rings were the most popular in early eras. Kings and lords of huge empires used them as seals for sending out confidential letters. Even though rings are a sign of fashion and wealth, today they are worn to display social status such as engagement, marriage or mourning.

 

Believing that the fourth finger from left, of the left hand has a vein that is directly connected to the heart, people refer to it as the ring finger.

 

Rings come in a wide variety of types that I cannot include all of them in here. However, some of them are:

 

Championship ring, Class ring, Doctoral ring, Engagement ring, Eternity ring, Finger armor ring, Engineer’s ring, Mood ring, Mourning ring, Portrait ring, Puzzle ring, Sewing ring, Signet ring, Thumb ring, Toe ring and Watch ring.

 

 

Bracelet:

Bracelets are ancient jewelry ornaments dating back to 5000 BC. Every culture may have a different standpoint about them, such as in Turkey and Latin America, the “evil eye” bracelets are worn to deflect evil eye.

 

In India and Pakistan, the type and color of bangle shows a woman’s marital status and in Bulgaria and Greece, particularly red and white bracelets are worn to hope for an earlier spring.

 

Size, rigidity, material, engravings and usage lead to five types of bracelets, they are:

 

 

Bangles:

Made of metal, glass or plastic, bangles are rigid and thick pieces of jewelry ornaments worn around the wrists. It is almost always a woman’s choice but some men do wear them too.

 

In Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and other South-Asian countries, colorful glass and metal bangles are quite common. People of these places wear it in groups because they enjoy the sound they make when they are hit.

 

 

Beaded:

A type of bracelets that is connected with a string. The material can be stones, gemstones, plastic and wood.

 

Charm:

Decorated by little metal, wood or glass trinkets, a charm bracelets hold personal sentimental attachments to the owner.

Link:

Most common with men, link bracelets are similar to metal chains that can be worn around the wrist. Some of them can have gemstones.

Sports:

Rubber silicone wristbands have gained quite a popularity in recent years. Depending upon the sport, these wristbands carry tens of functional features such as a communication tool, climbing tool, calories and steps counter.

 

Cufflinks:

Ever seen pairs of fancy buttons around the wrist part of fancy suits? Yeah they are called cuff links. They are manufactured only to be used with shirts that have button holes on cuffs.

 

The material can be of metal, glass, stone and leather. Cufflinks are for holding the shirt to the wristbands.

 

 

 

Feet ornaments

Feet are not the most famous part of the body for jewelry. However, in some cultures, the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with a substance called Henna with anklets and toe rings. In most Arabian and Indian cultures, public women dancers wear feet jewelry too.

 

Here are the two pieces of feet jewelry:

 

Anklet:

Also known as ankle bracelets, anklets are metal strings worn around the ankle. In most cases, the anklet is worn for self-adornment, but sometimes dancers from around the world decorate themselves with it as well.

 

A particular anklet known as “Ghungroo”, which is still worn by Indian women, is the most ancient form of feet jewelry, though it is not necessarily made of precious metal or gemstones. The ghungroo has phonic bells attached to it.

 

 

Toe ring:

Just like the finger ring, toe rings come in different sizes and shapes. They are commonly made of silver and worn on the second toe. In western culture, toe rings have no other significance than fashion.

 

In eastern culture such as India, they are worn in pairs and a woman wearing them is showing to people that she is married.

 

 

 

 

Jewelry Market

Jewelry might not be the most liquid market there is, but it sure is one of the most ancient, stable and durable ones. Whether it is a diamond ring, a silver necklace or a golden bangle, jewelry carries specific values and makes the wearer feel special and confident about themselves.

 

Some have certain meanings, but most are used for adornment and fashion purposes.

 

I can come up with three most basic reasons to why there is a need for jewelry market;

 

First one is that precious metals are internationally recognized form of currency such as gold, silver and platinum. Anywhere in the world you go, your gold is changeable to money.

 

That is why most rich countries have a gold reserve, because unlike money, gold and other precious metals are nonreactive, thus long-lasting.

 

Second reason is fashion and self-adornment. Jewelry has a much higher demand in women than men, because women buy it to embellish and adorn themselves, the same way they buy cosmetics, although some men have a taste for dexterous jewelry, particularly rings and amulets.

 

Third and the only reason that does not connect jewelry with money, is the personal value and sentimental attachment a person provides to it. These values can be lineage, marital, friendship, grief and memory.

 

Some people grow attachments to certain pop culture figures such as celebrities, movies, TV shows and books, and seek to find something physical to anchor themselves with in order to feel connected, and that something often comes in the form of jewelry.

Amulets of the Witcher 3 game characters

 

In 2018, the international jewelry market peaked to 280 billion dollars and can reach as high as 480 billion dollars till 2025. Countries with the most jewelry production and consumption, in particular gold, are China, followed by the United States, India and Japan.

 

The newest piece of jewelry coming to the markets is the synthetic diamond, which will be much cheaper and available than natural diamond.

 

 

 

Final Words

I sincerely hope you have found this article joyous, and that it has provided with the information you require. Leave your opinions in the comments below and if you believe there are incorrect data please mention them.

 

Thanks a world!

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia.com

Wikiwand.com

Jewelrydesigns.com

Visual-arts-cork.com

Lumenlearning.com

Esslinger.com

Statista.com

Categories: All About Jewelry

Properties of Metals

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Whether a precious metal or not, all metals carry unique attributes that can differentiate them from metalloids and nonmetals. Every metal carry a series of physical and chemical properties that can be applied equivalently.

 

However, some metals can be particular to a single characteristic that makes them special. Basic Properties of Metals are color, shine, conductivity and reactivity.

 

Metals can be easily separated from nonmetals with their basic properties, but not so much from metalloids. You see, metalloids have similar characteristics as metals, but theirs are weaker and poor in value.

 

For example: Gold is a shiny metal, silicon is a metalloid that can be shiny if it’s glass or not when it is soil. Nonmetals on the other hand, are mostly gas like oxygen, some are solid like sulfur and only one is liquid: Bromine.

 

So as you can tell, shine is a good property to tell a metal from a nonmetal, but may not be the best way to differentiate it from a metalloid.

 

A better way of recognizing metals from metalloids are malleability and conductivity. Metals are flexible and ductile in nature, meaning you can hammer them and press them, they are hard but with enough heat and pressure metals turn to jelly.

 

Unlike metalloids that are brittle. Metals also are great conductors of heat and electricity such as silver.

 

 

Properties of metals can be categorized as physical and chemical.

 

 

Physical Properties:

  • Natural state
  • Color
  • Luster
  • Malleability
  • Density
  • Conductivity

 

Chemical Properties:

  • Tarnish
  • Corrosion
  • Toxicity
  • Radioactivity
  • Electropositivity

 

The only thing that stands between a physical property and a chemical property of a metal is the attribute of permanent change in a molecular level. You see, when a metal undergoes physical change, it does not affect its nature.

 

Unlike chemical variation where the metal is no longer the same in its core.

 

 

 

Physical Properties of Metals:

 

Natural State

All metals are solid at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius), except for mercury, which is liquid. They are almost always found in rocks as alloys, meaning when you go mining in a mountain, you may find iron, cobalt and nickel mixed together, or if you are lucky a gold or platinum ore.

 

Except for native metals (Gold group and Platinum group), the remaining ones often go through chemical reactions such as corrosion and oxidation, thus cannot be found in large amounts and in need of purifying.

 

Upon finding a metal ore, humans have been able to separate metals from nonmetals with a method called smelting. Smelting is the process of applying heat to the metal ore until the rock melts away and the metal remains.

 

It is also beneficial in separating alloyed metals since each one has different melting points. Humans have used this method since 6500 BC.

 

 

 

Color

Metals are not much diverse in color, except for copper that appear to be red, the remaining are shades of white (silver), grey (lead) and yellow (gold). Metal colors comes from the absorption and diffusion of light rays.

 

The color also tells us which metal is present in a substance. This method is known as flame test and is used on all elements. The process involves burning the substance with a hot non-luminous flame and observing the change in color of the flame.

 

Different metals give different flame colors, such as:

  • Iron gives golden or orange colored flame
  • Mercury gives red
  • Tungsten gives green
  • Cobalt gives silver-white
  • Copper gives green or blue-green, and
  • Zinc is colorless

 

Even though the flame test provides information only on nature of the element, the amount present can be detected through another method called flame photometry.

 

 

Luster

Luster, also known as shine or reflectiveness of a metal, is determined upon in what length does the metal reflect light wavelengths. The longer the wavelength, the shinier the metal.

 

The long or short wavelengths of reflected light depends upon how many electrons does the metal atoms have circling farthest from the nucleus. Light rays bounce off of these farther electrons, since the closer ones are covered in cloud.

 

Humans have always admired shiny objects and have used them in jewelry and art. That is why most of our necklaces and rings are made from lustrous metals like gold and nonmetals like diamonds.

 

The most reflective metal is silver, followed by palladium, osmium, iridium, gold, platinum and rhodium.

 

 

 

Malleability

When metals are hammered and pressed without breaking, it is known as their malleability, and when rolled into thin wires, their ductility.

 

Unlike nonmetals and metalloids that are brittle and cannot be hammered, most metals are able to be shaped and stretched out, although some can break under immense pressure like titanium or tungsten.

 

In a molecular level, malleability is defined as the feature of metal atoms rolling over each other without breaking their bonds. Metals increase their lamination when heated.

 

A good example of this would be copper and gold, except for lead and tin since they are more flexible while colder and breaks if heated.

 

Gold is the most malleable and ductile metal, followed by silver, lead, copper and aluminum. It can be hammered up to 0.002 millimeters in thinness and almost as light as 50 grams of it can be stretched to 5 meters long. No wonder jewelers love to work with it so much.

 

 

 

Density

Density is the amount of mass per unit volume. In simple terms, the more number of atoms a metal has in a centimeter cube (or meter cube), the more dense it is. Just like luster, number of delocalized and farther electrons of a metal dictates its density as well.

 

Density is usually measured in grams per centimeter cube, and should not be confused with atomic weight, which is the amount of gravitational force applied on nucleus of an atom.

 

In general, metals are denser than nonmetals. Some metals are surprisingly denser than other ones such as mercury and lead in a way that even though solid and heavy, an anvil made out of lead will float in a pool of mercury because the latter is 2 grams denser.

 

 

That being said, the densest metal is osmium with 22.6 grams/centimeter cube followed by iridium which is only 0.02 grams lighter, the rest are platinum, neptunium, plutonium, tungsten, gold and uranium.

 

 

Conductivity

This property of metal comes in two types, temperature and electricity. All metals naturally transfer them to a level, although some are better than others such as silver, copper and gold.

 

The free-to-move (valence) electrons inside metal atoms are also responsible for the flow of heat energy and electricity.

 

Unlike properties of luster and density, in conductivity it’s better if there are less valence electrons, because the energy will remain and transfer stronger.

 

In other words, heat and electrical energy will jump from one electron to another in 100% capacity, where the same energy will be divided into half if there are two electrons carrying it, and in quarter if four.

 

Thus, the most conductive metals are also the ones having single free-flowing electrons in their atoms’ outermost shell.

 

 

The opposite of electrical conduction is called resistivity, and is measured in ohms. While metals are good conductors, metalloids and nonmetals are great insulators.

 

 

 

 

Chemical Properties of Metals:

 

Tarnish

Tarnish and corrosion are the two most basic chemical changes a metal undergoes if exposed to air or water, the difference is that tarnish only affects the external layer of a metal (patina), while corrosion does it all the way (rust).

 

Usually when the metal loses its shine and turns grey or black, it is because of tarnish, and once the outer layer stains, it protects the inner ones from reacting.

 

Tarnish is often a metal oxide and sometimes metal sulfide. The existence of patina is crucial in copper roofing and bronze or brass statues.

 

Most jewelry made out of gold, silver or platinum will experience this in time, but don’t worry it is not like rust and can be removed with steel wool, sand paper or baking soda.

 

 

 

Corrosion

Also known as rust and oxidation, corrosion is a chemical reaction that occur to the most reactive metals such as iron.

 

When exposed to air or water for longer times, high reactive metals enter a reaction in order to get better stabilized, and forms compounds such as oxides, hydroxides and sulfides. Corrosion weakens a metal’s strength and appearance.

 

The noble metals, which most jewelry are made out of, do not experience corrosion because of their non-reactivity. However, even if they do, there are ways to remove it to some extent. Putting the corroded metal in acidic solutions, baking soda or even a potato, can help you.

 

These are the metals and compounds that are most resistant to corrosion: Copper, aluminum, stainless steel and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum.

 

 

 

Toxicity

Some metals are poisonous to humans, mostly when they form particular compounds. If they find their way inside the body, it can lead to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath and weakness.

 

Usually toxic metals are from heavy metal group, but some light metals such as beryllium and lithium can poison you too. The most toxic metals are cadmium, manganese, lead, mercury and radioactive metals like uranium.

 

We are exposed to metals in our everyday lives. The bad thing about metal toxicity is that it cannot be cured like organic poisons, if you are exposed you need to get rid of the metal in your body immediately otherwise it may lead to cancer and even death.

 

There is a method of removing poisonous metals called chelation therapy. It involves using the chelating agents, which have electron donating groups, resulting in stabilizing the metal. However, chelation therapy is not safe and can have side effects as well.

 

Among the precious metals, only silver has poisoning properties called argyria. If you are exposed to silver compounds or dust, argyria will find you and turn your skin blueish-grey.

 

That is a good way to look like Kratos from God of War if it is Halloween season (joking, be careful of silver toxicity).

 

 

 

Radioactivity

An element is made of atoms, and the atom consists of protons and neutrons in its nucleus, and electrons in shells. Radioactivity occurs when the nucleus of the element is unstable and in a state of emitting energy in forms of alpha/beta particles or gamma rays.

 

There are a number of natural radioactive elements including some metals such as uranium, radium, plutonium, thorium, cesium and polonium, of which the latter is considered the most radioactive.

 

It is worth mentioning that humans have also created some radioactive elements like technetium, curium and californium.

 

Today, these elements (natural and synthetic) are being used in many ways, including smoke detectors, coal burning plants, nuclear power plants and of course atomic bomb detonations.

 

The famous atom bombs that were used on japan during world war 2 had uranium-235, a naturally occurring radioactive metal, in its core.

 

 

Exposure to small amounts of radiation once in a while is not dangerous, these include microwave, radio waves, ultraviolet lights and x-rays.

 

However, too much of them can be harmful. In huge amounts, radiation will result in burns, genetic alterations, infertility, abortion in women, cancer and death. If you feel curious and have the heart, then watch the miniseries Chernobyl.

 

 

 

Electropositivity

Elements have positive, negative or neutral charges. The neutral elements (noble gases) do not react with any element, but the rest of them can experience reactions with each other under special circumstances.

 

Whenever a reaction occurs between elements, the ones (mostly nonmetals) with negative charge are in need of electrons, so they take them from the ones (mostly metals) that have extra.

 

Electropositivity is a common attribute of metals. They carry extra electron(s) in their outermost shell, and upon finding a suitable partner in need, they donate them.

 

A good example can be sodium and chlorine. Sodium (an alkali metal) is charged +1, and chlorine (a halogen) -1. When they react, sodium donates that one extra electron to chlorine and together they form table salt.

 

Some nonmetals experience electropositivity as well, such as hydrogen. Two atoms of hydrogen (a gas) with +1 charge reacts with one atom of oxygen charged -2, and with the help of lightning energy, they form water. The opposite of electropositivity is electronegativity.

 

 

 

 

 

Final words:

Metals are fascinating objects. If we pay attention, we can observe that metals surround us, from the home we live in, the car we drive and the mobile we use, each of them consists of various metals.

 

It is believed that our planet did not contain as many metals as it has now, and some quite important metals came down from space such as iron.

 

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed yet another informative list I prepared for you. If you feel some parts of the information is incorrect or misleading, drop a comment. I would appreciate your opinion and honesty.

 

Best of Luck!

 

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia.com

Eaglealloys.com

Courses.lumenlearning.com

Labroot.com

Quora.com

thoughtco.com

Metals.comparenature.com

Answers.com

Radiationanswers.org

Thebalance.com

Ganj-i-Sawai

4 Comments

 

Also, known as “The Exceeding Treasure” or “ The Great Gunsway Heist” Ganj-i-Sawai was an enormous Indian treasure fleet that belonged to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

 

This great ship full of gold and silver pieces, was attacked and captured in 1695 by the famous English pirate Henry Avery.

 

Total Worth: Up to 100 Million Dollars

 

 

 

Who was Henry Avery?

Henry Avery or Henry Every was an English Royal Navy worker, who later became the world’s most successful pirate after closing the score first with Fateh Mohammad and later with Ganj-i-Sawai, both treasure fleets worth almost a hundred million dollars.

 

What’s special about him is that he did it without ever getting captured or killed.

 

Henry Avery used many aliases throughout his lifetime, including Benjamin Bridgeman and Long Ben, and was given the nickname of “The Pirate King”.

 

Despite the fact the Avery was a pirate for no more than two years, he had pulled the most successful act of heist and had inspired others in the path of piracy. Many novels, poems and literature were motivated by his life and actions.

 

Henry Avery according to Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End

 

 

He first began his career in service of the British Empire Royal Navy. He had taken part in many battles in Algiers, the Caribbean, Spain and France. After a loss, he was discharged from the navy. Avery later took part in the Atlantic Slave Trade.

 

By 1693, Avery joined the Spanish Expedition and quickly rose to fame because of his previous naval experience. He became an officer of the warship Charles II, which he later named “Fancy” after taking over it by the time he became a pirate.

 

He and the crew committed mutiny against Captain Gibson and banished him. Avery convinced his crew members to sail to Indian ocean and become pirates.

 

 

 

 

The Gunsway Heist

The Grand Mughal fleet, a convoy of 25 ships including the gargantuan 1600 ton 80-cannoned Ganj-i-Sawai and its escort the 600 ton Fateh Mohammad were spotted by Avery and his now even bigger crew and many other famous pirate allies he had convinced to join him on this heist.

 

The fleet made annual pilgrims to Mecca, so Avery were aware of the time and route.

 

After 5 days, Avery caught up with Fateh Mohammad, who had been badly damaged in a fight with one of Avery’s allies Thomas Tew. The Fancy easily defeated it and the loot was shared among everyone.

 

However, Avery’s crew got smaller shares, so they decided to chase the Ganj-i-Sawai, before catching and trapping it.

 

After a long and bloody fight of the ships, the giant Mughal fleet even though trapped, still managed to keep the pirates away with their guns, only until one of their cannons exploded, setting fire to a great part of the ship.

 

Taking advantage of this confusion, Avery’s crew took heart and landed on the Gunsway’s deck, and after a three hour fight the ship surrendered.

 

After days of killing, raping and mutilating, Avery got away with almost 800 hundred million dollars worth of gold, silver and precious jewelry from the Gunsway’s alone, making him the richest pirate in history.

 

Avery’s crew handing him a treasure chest

 

 

 

The Escape

Henry Avery set sail to the Bahamas after the big heist and sold The Fancy. The Mughal Empire, East Indian Company and British Navy were all scouring the seas for Avery and the Fancy, having put a huge bounty on his and his crew’s head too.

 

Most of his crew were arrested or killed but Avery’s own disappearance is still a mystery.

 

Some say that he settled in Ireland then in England by the name Benjamin Bridgeman and grew poor of his treasure after getting betrayed by a bunch of merchants. Others say that he sailed to his own private pirate country of Libertalia in some island near Madagascar.

 

If you have played the Uncharted 4 game you know how it ended for Henry Avery.

 

A ruined Libertalia according to Uncharted 4

 

[SPOILER ALERT for Uncharted 4 game]

According to the game, Him and Thomas Tew alongside with some other famous pirates united all the pirates of the world and they settled in Libertalia with their stolen treasure.

 

However, after some years of prosperity, an old and mentally ill Avery grew greedy and decided to take all the loot for himself and leave. His decision led to the destruction of Libertalia and of course his death at the hands of Thomas Tew, where they kill each other.

 

 

Nonetheless, in reality no one knows where and when Avery died and what happened to the massive treasure.

 

 

 

The Aftermath

This plunder of the Mughal’s treasure ship by an English pirate almost started a war between the two empires.

 

Emperor Aurangzeb prepared for an attack on the English city of Bombay in purpose of driving all the Englishmen out of the country when he heard about the raping of Muslim women on board at Ganj-i-Sawai. He considered it an unforgivable act, especially during the Hajj (Pilgrim) time.

 

The East Indian Company also suffered huge losses when the Emperor decided to cut off all ongoing trades between them and the Company. The company appeased him and pleaded to pay for their loss if he let them stay and continue to trade.

 

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

 

Henry Avery captured and robbed 11 vessels during his life as a pirate, before disappearing into thin air. All the treasure he had taken also vanished with him.

 

Henry Avery’s Pirate Flag or Sigil: The Jolly Roger

 

 

 

Final Words:

Once again, I hope you have enjoyed my content. Since I am a huge gaming nerd, I have included some relative images from the Uncharted 4 game.

 

I will be writing about lost treasures every once in a while, so if you have anything in mind please request them in the comments.

 

Best of Luck!

 

References:

Wikimedia.com

History.com

Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End (game)

Top 10 Most Expensive Metals

2 Comments

 

Our planet contains a pretty large amount of non-metals, Oxygen and silicon being the two most abundant elements on earth that make 75% alone. When it comes to metals, earth’s crust does hold some few percentage.

 

Excluding aluminum and iron, all the remaining metals make 0.2% in total. So when it comes to the top 10 most expensive metals, you have a teeny tiny portion in your hand of all elements.

 

The most expensive metals are also the most precious metals. In price terms, rarity does not count for much. What counts is the value people have provided them.

 

For example, ruthenium is 74th and scandium is 31st most abundant metal, if rarity was equivalent to price, then ruthenium had to be more expensive than scandium, but in reality where price is parallel to value, scandium is 200x higher in cost.

 

Another example would be osmium and rhodium, they are both the rarest metals, but the demand for rhodium is 180x higher than osmium because of rhodium’s beneficial properties of jewelry plating.

 

The price put on some of these metals are always changing. One day platinum is more expensive than gold, the next day it is the other way around, and the next week palladium surpasses both.

 

However, there is one metal compound that always stay on top of the list, and that is scandium fluoride.

 

Alright let’s not deviate ourselves from the topic. The top 10 most expensive metals are:

 

10th – Zirconium

9th – Silver

8th – Ruthenium

7th – Osmium

6th – Platinum

5th – Iridium

4th – Gold

3rd – Palladium

2nd – Rhodium

1st – Scandium

 

As I explain the price of these expensive metals and the reasons behind it, there are going to be a couple of deal breakers, so don’t go anywhere.

 

 

10th – Zirconium

Zirconium is the 18th most abundant element on earth’s crust and seas with a percentage of 0.0165. Its compounds are known and used in various fields for a long time.

 

Today, zirconium alloys are used in bricks, ceramics, pipes, fittings and heat exchangers. It is also present in surgical instruments and as a hardening agent in steel alloys.

 

Despite it is wide variety of usages, zirconium has the lowest price on our list. It is valued at 0.157$ per gram if bought pure, and 0.16$ per gram in bulk.

 

 

9th – Silver

Silver is one of the most ancient and the first five metals discovered by humans. Being only 0.0000075% present in earth, silver makes the 67th most abundant element.

 

In spite of such small amount, 27000 ton of it are produced each year. Silver and lead are found mixed in nature as the compound galena.

 

Sterling silver and Britannia silver are used in jewelry and silverware. Other usages of silver are in photography, electric contacts and mirrors. Silver is currently priced at 0.58$ per gram in pure and 1.2$ per gram in bulk.

 

 

8th – Ruthenium

This transit metal was the last of the six platinum family metals to be discovered by Karl K. Klaus at 1884. Its name comes from the Latin word “Ruthenia” meaning Russia, since the platinum ores it was discovered in came from the Ural mountains.

 

Ruthenium is found at 0.0000001% in the planet, making it one of the rarest and 75th most abundant element. In small amounts, ruthenium is used to harden platinum, palladium and titanium alloys, for both industrial and jewelry making purposes.

 

Pure ruthenium is estimated at 14$ per gram and 6.5$ per gram in bulk according to chemicool.com. However, at infomine.com it is priced at 8$ per gram.

 

 

7th – Osmium

Being one of the rarest metals according to Wikipedia, osmium is unbelievably priced lower than it deserves, at 12$ per gram.

 

The surgical implants such as pacemakers and replaceable heart valves are made out of 10% osmium and 90% platinum alloy. Its toxic agent osmium tetroxide, is also used in microscopy and fingerprint detection, but is highly hazardous if not cared for properly.

 

In nature, osmium is found in platinum ores as the mineral osmiridium and recovered as a by-product of nickel refining. With a bluish-white lustrous color, it is the densest metal alongside iridium. 0.00000015% of osmium exists on earth, making it the 73rd most available element.

 

 

6th – Platinum

Name of this metal comes from the Spanish word “Platina” which means little silver. According to chemicool, platinum was discovered by the people of South America and was recorded by Julius Scaliger in 1557 for the first time.

 

He described it as a strange metal that wouldn’t melt by any kind of fire.

 

Platinum is widely used in jewelry, bullion coins and bricks, dental work, decoration and medical instruments. Currently it is worth 32$ per gram according to infomine.com. However, pure platinum can range up to 100$ per gram globally depending upon the demand.

 

Platinum and it is family member metals, namely: Ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium and iridium, carry similar chemical properties and can be found naturally, often mixed together. It is available at 0.0000005% and is 71st most abundant element on earth.

 

 

5th – Iridium

Another platinum family member which is also the most corrosion-resistant metal is iridium. It is dense, resists attacks by almost all types of acids and used as strengthening agent for platinum alloys.

 

Mixed with osmium, it is used to make fountain pen tips and compass bearings. Iridium is also used in the construction of satellites and its radioactive isotopes are known for cancer treatment.

 

According to infomine.com, per gram iridium is worth 48$, but according to chemicool pure iridium is at 42$ and bulk is at 23$ per gram.

 

Iridium was discovered by Smithson Tennant in 1803 in London, at the same time as osmium. It is also believed that dinosaurs were wiped out by comets containing high amount of iridium 65 million years ago.

 

Iridium exists at 0.0000001%, making it the 76th most abundant element on the planet.

 

 

4th – Gold

The most common precious metal and every woman’s favorite to wear, gold exists at 0.0000004% on this planet and is the 72nd most abundant element. Even before recorded history, humans are known to work with gold, mine it and trade it for goods and commodities.

 

Gold was the ultimate currency among huge empires and even today, most countries hold gold reserves.

 

Gold is non-toxic and a great conductor of heat and electricity. It is the most ductile metal, free-standing of air, water, alkalies and acids except aqua regia. Besides jewelry and coinage, gold is also used in dental fillings, embroidery, satellites and microelectronics.

 

At the moment, gold is priced at 50$ per gram in pure form, and 38$ per gram in bulk.

 

 

3rd – Palladium

Palladium, platinum and gold prices are never stable. As of this year, palladium is valued at 64$ per gram according to infomine, excelling mentioned, but it may change. Palladium jewelry has been gaining popularity day by day at a quite noticeable ratio.

 

More wedding and engagement rings, bracelets and necklaces are being made out of this expensive metal. Also, like gold, silver and platinum, palladium too is structured into bullion coins and bricks.

 

This silvery-white lustrous metal was discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston, who also discovered rhodium the same year.

 

Since palladium and other precious metals are found close to the surface, it is believed that they arrived with a comet or asteroid that hit the planet thousands of years after it is formation.

 

The automobile industry, catalytic converters and jewelers are quite thankful for the involvement of this awesome metal. Palladium is also used in dentistry and other medical fields. It exists at 0.0000015% on earth and is the 69th most abundant element (Nice!).

 

 

2nd – Rhodium

Rhodium is often referred to as the most expensive natural metal. It surely has it is uses in jewelry and various industries, but in today’s list rhodium is the second most expensive after scandium. Today, rhodium is priced at 200$ per gram.

 

The name rhodium comes from the Greek word “Rhodon” meaning rose. Wollaston named it after the rose-red color of it is salt compounds. Same as the other platinum family metals, rhodium is extremely rare, reflective, resistant to corrosion and acids and silvery-white in color.

 

Earth has 0.0000001% of it and it is the 77th most abundant element.

 

Rhodium is used in catalytic converters, in platinum alloys as a hardening agent, in electrical contact material because of it is resistant to corrosion, but it is biggest application is in the jewelry plating.

 

When metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium are scratched, tarnished or lose it is shine, rhodium plating acts as the recovering factor. After the operation, the old jewelry becomes as good as new.

 

 

1st – Scandium

Scandium is a transit rare-earth metal discovered by Lars Nilson in 1879. He discovered it while trying to isolate ytterbium from the minerals euxenite and gadolinite. Lars named it “scanda” from the word Scandinavia since he found it in Sweden.

 

Scandium is less toxic, soft, light-weighted and has silvery-white color that can change to a slight golden or pink when exposed to air. It is as light as aluminum but has a much higher melting point of 1540 degrees Celsius.

 

Unlike other expensive metals listed in this article, scandium is reactive with many acids.

 

Global consumption of this exotic metal is at 10-15 metric tons per year. According to Wikipedia, scandium is 5$-20$ a gram, but education.jilab.org tells us that pure scandium is valued at 270$ per gram.

 

Latest US geological survey tells us that today there are five main compounds of scandium found in nature:

 

  • Scandium oxide priced at 4.6$ per gram
  • Scandium acetate priced at 44$ per gram
  • Scandium chloride priced at 124$ per gram
  • Scandium iodide priced at 183$ per gram
  • Scandium fluoride priced at 277$ per gram

 

Why is scandium so expensive?

For the sole reason that unlike the rest of the top expensive metals mentioned, scandium is not traded openly or in high amounts but in secrecy and sometimes among government. However, as the price is not standard there is no stable market for it.

 

This metal is mostly used in the aerospace industry combined with aluminum. It is also used in sports industry as bicycle frames, fishing rods, golf iron shafts and baseball bats. Scandium oxide is present in stadium lights and scandium iodide in sunlight replicating lights.

 

It is present in earth’s crust at 0.0022% and is the 32nd most abundant element.

 

 

 

Deal Breakers

Apart from Top 10 most expensive metals listed above, there are two other radioactive metalloids with sky high values. They are Polonium and Californium.

 

Polonium

Polonium is the first element discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, while researching about uranium oxide. Marie Curie named it after the country Poland, where she was born and grew up.

 

Polonium is also a rare, silvery-white but radioactive, toxic metalloid and if someone is exposed to it, the result is cancer.

 

Polonium is valued at 3200$ per micro curie at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and by the way you cannot easily convert curies to grams but let me tell you that a curie is extremely small amount compared to a gram.

 

Polonium is produced by bombarding bismuth-209 with neutrons and over the years, scientists have only been able to manufacture milligrams of it.

 

 

Californium

Same as polonium, californium is also a radioactive element and of course one of the most expensive materials in the world. This element has isotopes that are used to launch nuclear reactors. Californium is also used in detecting gold and silver ores via a method called neutron activation.

 

Being extremely radioactive, this element can cause various cancers, fertility problems, miscarriages and immune system problems, not only to humans but to all living organisms if they are exposed. This element is widely applied in petroleum industry as well.

 

Californium-252 is probably one of the rarest elements, being manufactured synthetically and going through a super costly and hard process, one gram of it is worth 27 million dollars.

 

Californium was first synthesized in 1950 by bombarding curium with alpha particles at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and later at the University of California Radiation Laboratory, where it was named after, by Glenn Seaborg and Stanley Thompson.

 

 

 

 

Final Words

Metals, no matter how rare or abundant, cheap or expensive, they all play a role in our lives. Almost every living organism are made of metals in small portions, like the iron that is present in our blood. If we take all the iron out, a medium-sized screw can be made.

 

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this list of Top 10 Most Expensive Metals I prepared. Wish you all the best and if you believe the information provided are somehow misleading or false, leave a comment below.

 

 

References

Wikipedia.com

Chemicool.com

Infomine.com

Moneymetals.com

Thebalance.com

Investingnews.com

Education.jilab.org

Livescience.com

Categories: Facts about Metals

Tags: , ,

Precious Metals in Jewelry

8 Comments

 

If you admire pretty and shiny objects called jewelry, I am sure you have wondered what material they are made from. I am here to tell you that there are so many precious metals in jewelry that you will be surprised.

 

Lucky for you, I have made a list of metals and non-metals that are utilized in the making of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and other objects. Since jewelry is a broad subject, I am diving deep in precious metal jewelry only.

 

Jewelry is usually made from the eight precious metals and some other ones, although non-metals do play a role too.

 

Precious metals that are used to make jewelry are based upon a mix of three main attributes:

  • Rarity
  • Durability
  • Appearance

 

Rarity of a metal indicates in what percentage it is found on earth’s crust. It is probably the most important factor in determining a jewelry metal.

 

If it is hard to find such as gold then the metal is rare, if not like iron, which we use in different forms in our daily lives, it is not rare, thus not being used in jewelry.

 

Durability of a metal can be determined in various ways depending on the metal. Some are hard but easily oxidized such as copper and iron, and some are soft and malleable like lead. Some are even in liquid form in room temperature like mercury.

 

Sometimes a metal undergoes tarnish, even a precious one like silver. Tarnish is a thin layer of dark stain formed as it goes under a chemical reaction, but unlike rust the inner layers are not affected.

 

So for a metal to be durable in jewelry terms, it should not be reactive and oxidized, be soft or liquid at room temperature or easily tarnished.

 

Appearance of a metal is simply its desirability. To be considered precious and jewelry-made, the exterior of a metal needs to be lustrous and not easily scratched. But often people value rarity than exterior.

 

For example, tungsten is the hardest and most scratch-resistant metal, but considered to platinum or gold, tungsten carbide rings have lower value.

 

For a metal to be “exotic” in jewelry term, it has to have all the above properties. Without one of these, a metal might be rare, but not “Jewelry Precious”.

 

For example: 

Copper is a metal that has a red color, is soft and not scarce. It has a wide variety of industrial uses, but not in jewelry in pure form.

 

Iron is a metal that is found in high amounts, is durable but lack the exterior. So, no one makes jewelry out of iron, because it would not sell.

 

Nickel is another example of transition metal carrying magnetic properties like iron, is durable and has a silvery appearance, but is not rare. In fact, iron and nickel are two elements that make the earth’s core. But it itself cannot be considered precious to make its way into jewelry.

 

Besides, nickel causes allergies and skin problems if worn for a long time. Although, some countries use nickel coins and it’s also used as an alloy to make stainless steel, which is worked in jewelry.

 

Gold on the other hand is rare, durable and a desirable metal with its shiny yellow color. Gold is actually one of the first metals used in both currency and jewelry from the beginning of history and civilizations, along with silver.

 

It might not be as hard as some of the other metals like tungsten, but the malleability of gold actually makes it easier to work.

 

Keep in mind that not all metals that meet the above criteria are used in jewelry the same. Some can be toxic, allergic to skin and radioactive such as osmium.

 

Even though osmium is from platinum family, when powdered, it could form a nasty toxic called osmium tetroxide that damages the eye. However, combined with other alloys, osmium jewelry can be pretty exotic (and of course expensive).

 

At the moment, there are eight elements that are considered “precious metals”. They are:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Rhodium
  • Ruthenium
  • Iridium
  • Osmium

 

There are other exotic metals and compounds excluding the above eight, that can be made into pretty awesome wearable stuff. Some popular ones are as follows:

  • Titanium
  • Tungsten
  • Cobalt chrome
  • Stainless Steel
  • Zirconium

 

These are the metals used in jewelry, and which I will be concentrating on this website. But for your curiosity’s sake, I am also making a list of non-metallic jewelry material here, and they are:

  • Gemstones such as diamonds, pearls, ruby, sapphire, topaz, emerald and etc.
  • Exotic wood
  • Meteorite
  • Silicon
  • Ceramic
  • Exotic Bone
  • Leather
  • Carbon fiber

 

 

Precious Metals:

Gold (Au)

Gold is one of the noble metals that occur naturally. Its non-reactivity and shiny yellow color have made it admirable for us humans since forever. Total gold consumption is 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments and 10% in industry. Gold has a melting point of 1064 degrees Celsius.

 

This valuable metal was discovered 6000 years BC in the middle east. Being one of the rare and malleable metals, goldsmiths have found it easier to work with.

 

Besides being a desirable metal for jewelry purposes, gold has been known as the ultimate trade currency since the dawn of time because its ductility makes it easier to make coins out of it. Some Arab nations still use gold coins called Dinar.

 

Silver (Ag)

Like gold, silver has been kicking around in the jewelry industry and trade market for thousands of years. It is just as ductile but less rare than gold, thus carrying lesser value, making it more affordable.

 

Other than that, silver is used in bullion coins, solar panels, water filtration and mirrors. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity and is the most reflective in all metals. Since pure silver is too soft like gold for all these purposes, it is often alloyed with copper.

 

It is also used in photography and medicine. Today 1 kg of silver is priced almost 500$.

 

Platinum (Pt)

Platinum is the most sparkling, exotic, strong and scratch-resistant among its family metals. It has a white-silvery color and can be found world-wide, but it’s scarcity being the fact that it is 30 times rarer than gold, makes it an exotic metal.

 

Commonly it is alloyed with iridium or osmium to make jewelry.

 

Platinum is one of the least reactive metals with a melting point of 1763 degrees Celsius, making it extra resistant to heat and corrosion. It is also resistant to tarnish making it a long-lasting object for wear.

 

Platinum is known as white gold and mostly used in wedding and engagement rings. It is also applied in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, dentistry and chemotherapy. It won’t hurt to know that platinum-based jewelry is super expensive as well.

 

Palladium (Pd)

Like platinum, palladium is also silvery-white in color and has the lowest density and melting point of 800 degrees Celsius. Palladium can be found as an alloyed metal with gold or its family metal group mostly in Russia, Ethiopia, North and South America.

 

The Largest uses of palladium is in the automobile industry, but there are some in jewelry as well.

 

Palladium is the newest metal of the platinum family. It has the same color but being less dense, it is more affordable than platinum. Same as platinum, palladium is usually used in exotic wedding and engagement rings.

 

Palladium jewelry is 95% pure and naturally shining, unlike gold that is close to 50% and in need of rhodium plating to keep it lustrous.

 

Rhodium (Rh)

Rhodium is a noble metal with silver-white color, corrosion-resistant, hard and naturally occurring like the rest of platinum family. It is beneficial to other jewelry in providing scratch and tarnish resistant plating and reflectiveness.

 

If you have a nickel allergy, rhodium plating is a must for your wearable. Rhodium is often found as a by product of platinum mining, making it incredibly rare and also the most expensive metal among its family.

 

Pure rhodium jewelry is not common. Generally it is consumed for rhodium plating, so that people don’t have to sell their old jewelry and buy new ones every time. Rhodium detectors are also used in nuclear reactors.

Rhodium Plating

 

Ruthenium (Ru)

Ruthenium too carries the same properties of resistance and hardness. Besides its much rare usage in jewelry, ruthenium is most often applied in electrical contacts and solar cells. Compared to platinum, it has a darker color. 5% ruthenium mixed with platinum gives the hardest platinum alloy.

 

Because of its hardness, jewelers use is it in diamond setting rings only, otherwise the other stones will get scratched. Just 0.1% of ruthenium strengthens titanium’s corrosion resistance up to hundred times.

 

Ruthenium is found freely in nature mixed with other metal members of its family. You can also extract it from used nuclear fuel, although it will be radioactive that way.

 

Iridium (Ir)

This incredibly rare metal is brittle, hard and quite expensive. 1 gram of iridium is currently priced at almost 35$. It was discovered by a British chemist at the same time as osmium.

 

Iridium is known as the most resistant metal to corrosion and acidic solutions. Its main uses are in hardening platinum alloys, cancer treatment, pen tips and compasses.

 

Iridium is the second most densest metal after osmium. It has a strong 2445 degrees Celsius melting point and is rarely found on earth’s crust. It’s said once earth was rich in iridium, but most of it was dissolved in earth’s core when the planet was still in its hot molten phase.

 

With its largest appliance being in electronic-related fields, iridium jewelry is very uncommon.

 

 

Osmium (Os)

The metal that is getting more and more fame and publicity because of its high demand in different areas with the highest density and melting point is osmium. Osmium is hard, brittle, lustrous with an exotic bluish-silver color.

 

It is mostly mixed with other metals due to its high density and utilized for making electrical contacts, phonograph needles and tips of fountain pen.

 

The only downside to this amazing noble metal is its toxic oxidizing agent called osmium tetroxide. It’s highly noxious and damages the eye, causing even blindness.

 

However, the metal osmium is sometimes mixed with gold, platinum or titanium to create magnificent osmium diamonds and stars. Jewelers are finding better ways to avoid its toxicity, thus the demand for it is on the rise.

 

 

 

Other exotic metals and compounds:

Titanium (Ti)

Titanium is a strong, corrosion-resistant and white in color transit metal. It has a melting point of 1670 degrees Celsius which makes it a good refractory metal.

 

Titanium is the seventh most abundant metal on earth, it can be found in igneous rocks, living things, bodies of water and even meteorites. However, pure metallic titanium is pretty rare.

 

Titanium is used in steel as an alloying agent and in stainless steel to reduce carbon content. Professional jewelers engrave it with laser engraver since its greatly durable providing exterior of a lifetime.

 

Even though titanium is much stronger than gold and silver, it is yet light-weight, comfortable and cheap. In addition, you don’t have to worry about your finger turning green because titanium rings are hypoallergenic with anti corrosion and tarnish properties.

 

Because of its hardness, titanium rings cannot be resized. So if your finger shrinks in a case of emergency, the ring must be sewed off.

 

 

Tungsten (W)

The name Tungsten comes from Swedish Tung Sten meaning Heavy Stone. That’s right, tungsten is heavier than most metals. It’s found in compounds rather than alone on earth. Tungsten has the highest melting point of 3422 degrees Celsius among all metals discovered.

 

It is often used in the production of hard substances, namely tungsten carbide. This material is used in jewelry to make all types of rings. A little bit of caution though, if you notice a swollen finger take the tungsten ring off immediately.

 

Tungsten does not bend like gold or silver no matter the pressure. If there is too much pressure it will simply break. Tungsten carbide jewelry is slightly more affordable than other precious metals and with correct polishing, it will give you the same feeling of wearing gold or platinum.

 

Metallic tungsten is hypoallergenic, except if it is alloyed with nickel.

 

Cobalt Chrome

Cobalt is a silvery-grey, hard, lustrous and magnetic metal. A powdered blue pigment of cobalt known as cobalt blue is used in jewelry, ceramic and painting since ancient times. Cobalt is also applied in rechargeable batteries and electrical vehicles.

 

In the jewelry industry, cobalt is used as cobalt chrome, a mixture of cobalt and chromium that is hypoallergenic and gives a unique shine.

 

Cobalt chrome is super flexible when making rings or bracelets of it with camo, meteorite, carbon fiber and even diamonds. The material is engrave-able but not too scratch-resistant, although it can be reconditioned.

 

 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel or inox is known for its corrosion resistance. Made up from a minimum of 11% chromium and maximum of 1.2% carbon, it is notably used for making fancy, cool and affordable rings, bracelets, pendants, and watches.

 

Resistant to rust, oxidation and discoloration, this unplated metal will not fade over time, is hypoallergenic and desirable for permanent jewelry sets.

 

Zirconium (Zr)

Zirconium is a grey-white, lustrous, strong transition metal that resembles titanium. It is solid at room temperature and quite malleable. Its powder is highly flammable but won’t ignite in solid form.

 

It is corrosion and chemically resistant in a level that it is being applied in nuclear reactors. It’s even used in dental filling and treatment.

 

Like titanium, zirconium is strong, unbreakable but light-weight. A ring made of zirconium is abrasion and scratch proof on level 9 of ceramic measure, meaning only diamond the hardest material can scratch it.

 

Black zirconium jewelry is skin-friendly and fairly affordable. Unlike stainless steel, black zirconium rings are impossible to resize, so keep that in mind when purchasing one.

 

 

Non-metallics used in Jewelry:

Gemstones

A gemstone is a piece of exotic mineral crystal cut and polished into different shapes. Almost all kinds of jewelry comes with a gemstone inside it. Wedding and engagement rings, bracelets, necklaces, chains even crowns.

 

These gemstones vary in rarity, hardness, color and value. The most popular and exotic gemstone is diamond, others are ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearls, turquoise, topaz and opal.

 

Except for diamond, there is no world-wide accepted standard grading system for gemstones. Their value usually comes from cut, clarity and color. Some of them go through various treatments for color and clarity.

 

Exotic Wood

Sometimes the most rare, appealing and durable woods are also used to make rings and bracelets. Some exotic wood are African blackwood, agar wood, ebony wood, sandalwood, bogwood, koa, purple heart, rose wood and zebrawood.

 

Meteorite

Meteorites are fragments of rocks that fell down to earth from space. They are either parts of comets, asteroids or meteoroids.

 

Meteorites are rarer than diamonds, gold or silver. Some of them can be quite valuable at 1000$ per 1 gram. Meteorite jewelry are hard but since some have nickel in them, you might face with nickel allergy, if not then you are good to go purchasing one.

 

Silicon (Si)

Silicon is a non-metal mostly found in rocks, soil, sand and glass. It is hard, brittle and blue-grey in color. It is the second most abundant element on the planet after oxygen. Silicon is widely used in the electronics industry.

 

In jewelry it comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It is super cheap and great if you are looking for affordable promise rings, wraps and bracelets.

 

Ceramic

Ceramic is a mixture of clay and other earthly material including metals and minerals, structured into fashionable necklaces and rings. There are three types of ceramic; earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

 

Ceramic is hard but fragile, in a way that it out stands chemical reactions but is weak to physical changes (breaks easily). Its variety of usage allows it to be made to almost anything, from rings to tiles and sculptures.

Exotic Bone

When uncommon animals die, their bones are made into rings and other wearable. In most cases, dinosaur bones which are too small or cannot be put to good use in a museum or paleontology, are manufactured into fashionable objects.

 

Leather

Just like exotic animal bones, their skin is also put to good use. Leather fashion is no mystery, it’s durability is why some people pursue leather clothes and jewelry. Mixed with minerals or precious metals, handmade leather jewelry can be demanding.

 

Carbon Fiber

Strong yet durable, this hypoallergenic non-metal is probably the most comfortable material used in jewelry. Carbon fiber is stronger than steel but less heavy, making it pretty simple to work with. Unfortunately, it is not bendy or re-sizable.

 

Carbon fiber jewelry can be expensive, but not as expensive as precious metals or diamonds.

 

 

Final Words:

The jewelry industry is a broad subject and cannot be put into detailed explanation in some pages. It is not something you wouldn’t be able to live with if you don’t have it in your life, but rather something of value.

 

It’s true, the particular value a piece of jewelry may or may not provide is totally subjective. Each person has a different taste and measures the worthiness of jewels otherwise.

 

Nevertheless, I hope that this article has made your job easier and provided you some hindsight about what metals are exotic, beautiful, rare, affordable and long-lasting.

 

Each and every metal is gorgeously unique, depending on your taste and of course financial status, I sincerely wish that you find your perfect piece of jewelry from this website.

Good Luck!

 

References:

Wikipedia.com

Borro.com

bbc.com

novica.com

buy-osmium.com

steelforge.com

kitco.com

911metallurgist.com

finishing.com

biltmoreloanandjewelry.com

carbonfibergear.com

coreyegan.com

About Us

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Welcome to Wear Exotic Metals Everyone.

 

MY STORY

I am Sulaiman Azimi from Afghanistan. I live in Kabul at the moment with my beloved wife. I have a full-time job and don’t actually need a side income, but I admire those shiny exotic metals and thought why not should I make a blog or a website about them? That is why I am here. To admire and write about exotic and scarce metals, some you may have never heard about.

Nowadays I see that some amazing and talented people are turning rare metals into jewelry. Platinum rings, Titanium rings, Yellow and white gold necklaces, even meteorite bracelets (I know meteorites are not metals). How amazing is that right? I find all rare material turned into something you can wear or have, astonishing, and if you do too then you are at the right place.

I want to help people find every exotic and precious metal jewelry from all over the internet.

 

 

WHY DO I WANT TO HELP PEOPLE?

It is very simple actually, there are thousands of people online who are looking for exotic objects, mostly jewels. Some people like me have a thing for rare things, to obtain them. It makes them feel special and different than others.

The metal, mineral or stone used in jewelry do not have value themselves, it’s us people who put value in them. The value aspect is totally subjective. Sometimes its based on beauty and size, other times rarity.

In my case, I find a 100$ Tungsten or Titanium ring more valuable than a 500$ gold ring, because tungsten is more uncommon that gold, and I know there are people out there who think like me. It’s certainly not as worthy, but it sure is harder, resistant to scratch and unique. I am here to help them find the most Exotic and Rare Metal Jewelry.

 

 

THE GOAL OF YOUR SITE

The purpose of this website is to provide people with information about certain rare metals and review exotic metal jewelry. Wear Exotic Metals is built to help you find the metal jewelry your heart desires, the rarest and most outlandish of them.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below or ask me personally at Contact@wearexoticmetals.com, and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Sulaiman Azimi

WearExoticMetals.com

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