Gold-filled jewelry, also known as “rolled gold” or “rolled gold plate” is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass. Some high quality gold-filled pieces have the same appearance as 14 karat (58%) gold. In the USA the quality of gold filled is defined by the Federal Trade Commission. If the gold layer is 10 kt fineness the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/10 the weight of the total item. If the gold layer is 12 kt or higher the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the weight of the total item. The most common stamps found on gold-filled jewelry are 1/20 12kt GF and 1/20 14kt GF. Also common is 1/10 10kt. Some products are made using sterling silver as the base, although this more expensive version is not common today.
“Double clad” gold-filled sheet is produced with 1/2 the thickness of gold on each side. 1/20 14Kt double clad gold-filled has a layer on each side of 1/40th 14Kt making the total content of gold 1/20. The thinner layer on each side does not wear as well as single clad gold-filled.
The Federal Trade Commission allows the use of “Rolled Gold Plate” or “R.G.P”. on items with lower thicknesses of gold than are required for “gold-filled.” A 12 kt gold layer that is 1/60 the weight of the total item is designated as 1/60 12kt RGP. This lower quality does not wear as well as gold-filled items.
Gold-filled items, even with daily wear, can last five to 30 years but will eventually wear through. The gold layer on gold-plated jewelry varies greatly depending on manufacturer, so there is no single, simple comparison. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating, and 17 to 25,000 times thicker than heavy gold electroplate (sometimes stamped HGE or HGP—usually found on flashy cubic zirconia “cocktail rings”).
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
Fine silver (99.9% pure) is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and beauty of the precious metal. Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intent to improve various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish. These replacement metals include germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as a variety of other additives, including silicon and boron. A number of alloys, such as Argentium sterling silver, have appeared in recent years, formulated to lessen firescale or to inhibit tarnish, and this has sparked heavy competition among the various manufacturers, who are rushing to make claims of having the best formulation. However, no one alloy has emerged to replace copper as the industry standard, and alloy development is a very active area.
Rhodium is a chemical element that is a rare, silvery-white, hard, and chemically inert transition metal and a member of the platinum group. It has the chemical symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is composed of only one isotope, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed with similar metals, and never as a chemical compound. It is one of the rarest precious metals and the most costly.
Rhodium is a so-called noble metal, resistant to corrosion, found in platinum or nickel ores together with the other members of the platinum group metals. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston in one such ore, and named for the rose color of one of its chlorine compounds, produced after it reacted with the powerful acid mixture aqua regia.
The element’s major use (about 80% of world rhodium production) is as one of the catalysts in the three-way catalytic converters of automobiles. Because rhodium metal is inert against corrosion and most aggressive chemicals, and because of its rarity, rhodium is usually alloyed with platinum or palladium and applied in high-temperature and corrosion-resistive coatings. White gold is often plated with a thin rhodium layer to improve its optical impression while sterling silver is often rhodium plated for tarnish resistance.
Niobium or columbium , is a chemical element with the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It’s a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. The name comes from Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus.
Niobium has physical and chemical properties similar to those of the element tantalum, and the two are therefore difficult to distinguish. The English chemist Charles Hatchett reported a new element similar to tantalum in 1801, and named it columbium. In 1809, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston wrongly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. The German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that tantalum ores contain a second element, which he named niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific findings clarified that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a century both names were used interchangeably. The name of the element was officially adopted as niobium in 1949.
It was not until the early 20th century that niobium was first used commercially. Brazil is the leading producer of niobium and ferroniobium, an alloy of niobium and iron. Niobium is used mostly in alloys, the largest part in special steel such as that used in gas pipelines. Although alloys contain only a maximum of 0.1%, that small percentage of niobium improves the strength of the steel. The temperature stability of niobium-containing superalloys is important for its use in jet and rocket engines. Niobium is used in various superconducting materials. These superconducting alloys, also containing titanium and tin, are widely used in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. Other applications of niobium include its use in welding, nuclear industries, electronics, optics, numismatics and jewelry. In the last two applications, niobium’s low toxicity and ability to be colored by anodization are particular advantages.
The chromium gives the metal its scratch resistance and corrosion resistance. The nickel provides a smooth and polished finish. The molybdenum gives greater hardness and helps maintain a cutting edge.
Although there are myriad variations in the recipes, there are two main varieties of stainless steel: martensitic and austenitic; see the stainless steel article.
The word ‘surgical’ refers to the fact that these types of steel are well-suited for making surgical instruments: they are easy to clean and sterilize, strong, and corrosion-resistant. The nickel/chrome/molybdenum alloys are also used for orthopaedic implants as aids in bone repair, and as a structural part of artificial heart valves and other implants. However, immune system reaction to nickel is a potential complication. In some cases today titanium is used instead in procedures that require a metal implant which will be permanent. Titanium is a reactive metal, the surface of which quickly oxidizes on exposure to air, creating a microstructured stable oxide surface. This provides a surface into which bone can grow and adhere in orthopaedic implants but which is incorrodible after implant. Thus steel may be used for temporary implants and the more expensive titanium for permanent ones.
Most surgical equipment is made out of martensitic steel—it is much harder than austenitic steel, and easier to keep sharp. Depending on the type of equipment, the alloy recipe is varied slightly to get more sharpness or more strength.
Implants and equipment that are put under pressure (bone fixation screws, prostheses, body piercing jewelry) are made out of austenitic steel, often 316L and 316LVM compliant to ASTM F138, because it is less brittle.
316 surgical steel is used in the manufacture and handling of food and pharmaceutical products where it is often required in order to minimize metallic contamination. ASTM F138-compliant steel is also used in the manufacture of body piercing jewellery and body modification implants.
In chemistry, the term base metal is used informally to refer to a metal that oxidizes or corrodes relatively easily, and reacts variably with diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl) to form hydrogen. Examples include iron, nickel, lead and zinc. Copper is considered a base metal as it oxidizes relatively easily, although it does not react with HCl.
Base is used in the sense of low-born, in opposition to noble or precious metal. In alchemy, a base metal was a common and inexpensive metal, as opposed to precious metals, mainly gold and silver. A long-time goal of the alchemists was the transmutation of base metal into precious metal.
In numismatics, coins used to derive their value primarily from the precious metal content. Most modern currencies are fiat currency, allowing the coins to be made of base metal.
In mining and economics, base metals refers to industrial non-ferrous metals excluding precious metals. These include copper, lead, nickel and zinc. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is more inclusive in its definition. It includes, in addition to the four above, iron and steel, aluminium, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, tantalum, cobalt, bismuth, cadmium, titanium, zirconium, antimony, manganese, beryllium, chromium, germanium, vanadium, gallium, hafnium, indium, niobium, rhenium and thallium.
Source: Wikipedia compilation