The Different Karats of Gold
Karat is the term used to measure the gold content or purity, Karat is a unit used to measure the purity of gold. The higher the karat, the more pure the gold.
24 karat gold is often refered to as pure gold as it is the highest purity that can be manufactured. It is actually 99.9% gold. There are coins made of 24K gold that are inteded for investment purposes. I do not advise making rings from 24K coins because the gold is to soft and will not hold up well to wear.
22 Karat gold is 91.67% pure gold and is alloyed with other metals to help make the gold alloy tougher while maintaining a high purity. 22K is commonly used in Jewelry making. The Gold American Eagle is 22K (91.67) comes in a variety of sizes from 1oz, 1/2oz, and 1/4oz. Each size uses the same design, only the physical size and weight change.
21.6 Karat gold is 90% pure gold and is alloyed with other metals to help make the gold alloy tougher while maintaing a high purity rating. 21.6K is very common among older gold coins. The 1930 Swiss Franc 20 is a great example of one of these such coins. The 21.6K is what most gold coin rings will be made out of if they are not a modern coin.
2016 Gold American Eagle (22K)
2008 Canada Gold Maple Leaf (24K)
1930 Swiss Franc 20 (21.6K)
Gold is a highly precious metal and has been sought after through the ages. Gold has a beautiful luster and does not naturally oxidize. Gold is unaffected by air, water, alkalias and almost all acids with the exception of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. This means that gold does not rust, corrode or tarnish.
Special Note: Gold does not patina.
Platinum is an extremely rare metal. Pure platinum is lustrous and has a silver-white appearence. Platinum has excellent resistance to corroison. Platinum is considered to be highly unreactive and a great alternative to Gold if your searching for a precious metal that is white instead of yellow. A good example of a Platinum coin is the Platinum American Eagle. It comes in 1oz, 1/2oz, and 1/4oz options. Each size uses the same design, only the phyisical size and weight change.
Special Note: Platinum does not patina.
Isle of Man Silver Angel (Fine Silver)
2008 Platinum American Eagle (99.95%)
Silver has a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high polish. Silver has been used in currency for thousands of years. It has only been in recent years that silver has been phased out of circulated currency. You can still obtain silver coins through collectors, world mints, and major coin suppliers.
Silver will oxidize and tarnish over time when exposed to air. Because silver will tarnish over time it does not carry as much value compared to gold or platinum. Silver makes a great economical alternative to platinum or gold when seeking a beautiful piece of jewelry. The buyer just needs to keep in mind that silver will require varying degrees of maintenance to retain its luster.
The Different Percentages of Silver
When buying or selling anything made of silver, it is important to know how much of the item is silver. The higher percentage of silver, the more white and luster the item will have and will help combat the dreaded 'green finger' effect. There is no perfect percentage as each person's body chemistry is different.
Special Note: A silver ring with patina can also create a 'green or black finger' because the patina can wear off from friction with your finger. Many people report that the effect decreases over time.
Special Note: A silver ring with no patina is much easier to maintaine over time as simply washing your hands with soap on a regular basis will often help keep the high polish on the ring.
Special Note: A Silver Ring with patina can over time loose its patina. I recommend removing a silver ring with patina before washing your hands because the detergent can 'clean' the ring, which would include removing the patina.
Fine Silver is a grade refering to 99.9% pure silver. It is the highest grade silver manufactured. It has a very bright white luster that can easily be seen when compaired to other grades of silver.
Fine Silver coins are found in coins meant to be collected by coin enthusiast. An example of a Fine Silver coin is the Queen's 90th Birthday 2016 UK £20 Fine Silver Coin.
Fine Silver can also be found in commerative coins, as many are made of fine silver. These type coins are also sometimes called Rounds. An example of this is the Silver Round - Incuse Indian which is patterned after the $2.50 and $5 Indian Head Gold coin minted from 1908 to 1929.
Sterling Silver is a grade referering to 92.5% pure silver. It is a high grade of silver and has a bright white luster to it, but not as white as Fine Silver. It is a very common grade used in jewelry. Very few coins have been produced in sterling silver. A example of a Sterling Silver coin is the Australia Florin that was produced from 1938 to 1945.
Most coins produced in the United States that have Silver in them tend to have 90% silver. A coin with 90% silver in it is still considered to be a high grade silver coin. The Franklin Half Dollar, the Morgan Dollar (aka Silver Dollar), Walking Liberity Half Dollar, Barber Quarter and Half Dollars, 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar, and George Washington Quarters made from 1932 to 1964 are all examples of coins made of 90% silver.
In the collector's market, you can find Silver State Quarters and many more coins made with 90% silver. These quarters differer from your standard clad state quarter as the ones produced for circulation do not contain silver.
Special Note: NO State Quarter is Sterling Silver, if you see a coin ring maker offering a Sterling Silver State Ring, I advise you consider another crafter.
Some foreign coins contain different degrees of silver. For example, the Japanese 50 Sen produced from various years contain 80% silver. Other Foreign coins can contain anywhere between 50% silver and up. I highly recommend knowing what percentage of silver your coin ring has before buying.
Queen's 90th Birthday 2016 UK £20 (Fine Silver)
Silver Round - Incuse Indian (Fine Silver)
1939 Australia Florin (Sterling Silver)
1949 Silver Franklin Half Dollar (90% Silver)
Clad is a term used by collectors when refering to the fact that the coin does not contain any precious metals. There is no gold, platinum, or silver in clad coins. Clad coins make up the vast majority of circulated coins today. Clad coins can be very durable as circulated coinage is usally made to last a long time.
The downside to clad is the dreaded 'green' finger. Depending on your body's chemstry, if you wear a clad coin it can leave a green or black mark on your finger.
2016 Washington America the Beautiful Quarter