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Precious Metals






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Precious Metals

Fine jewelry today uses gold, silver and platinum. These, like all metals, are characterized by the following properties.

Precious metals in their pure state are seldom used as they are normally too soft for jewelry. Gold, silver, and platinum are usually combined with other metals, called alloys, to produce a more viable metal.

Of the three precious metals, platinum is the most dense. Thus a ring of a given “bulk” will be heavier in platinum than in gold or silver. This density, as well as other factors, make platinum jewelry much more expensive than gold.

Weights & Measures

Three units of measurement are commonly used to measure fine jewelry metal. All are based on the troy weight system.

Troy Ounce

The troy system originated in Troyes, France, a major business center during the Middle Ages. After Mary, Queen of Scots, married into French royalty, Scotland adopted this weight system.


Pennyweight is abbreviated dwt. The abbreviation originated in Scotland, coming from a specific coin, the denarius (d), which was the same weight (wt) as a Scotch penny.


A pennyweight has 1.555 grams.

Buyer’s Tip

When comparison shopping, be sure to compare weight. A pennyweight is about 1.5 grams. If different jewelers quote weights in different measuring systems, multiply the dwt weight by 1.5 to get the approximate gram weight.