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Ask Your Goldsmith:
Sterling Silver or 12Kt G/F Item?

"Dear Hartmut,

I read with interest your web site about 12 kt GF gold.

I am trying to decide on a religious medallion and I want to make sure that I am not allergic to it.

I have a nickel allergy and I am trying to decide between a 12 kt GF, and a sterling silver medallion.

What do you think the better choice would be?"

Thanks very much,Karen

Hi Karen!

Thank you for your Inquiry!

In case you like to wear your religious medal all the time, I would suggest to get the Sterling Silver medal. It's almost pure Silver and should not not give you any problems (unless you're on certain kinds of medication, in which case a higher Kt Gold would be the best choice for you).

The 12Kt Gold filled stamp means there is a 1/10th or 1/20th 12Kt thickness of the gold plate (layer) over the base metal, which is brass in most cases! 12Kt also means it is of 50% pure gold and the other 50% is the added alloy! That "Gold Filled" layer wears through after a while and the brass base metal shows up on the edges first. After that the the edges of the medallion and your skin will show a greenish color.

Gold filled has a thicker layer of gold on it, than hard gold plating. Except hard gold plating has usually been nickel plated first, for instant brilliance of the metal (without polishing the metal first!) So the gold plating wears off fast and the white nickel will show, and in your case, it will bother your skin.

What kind of medal did you have in mind? Maybe we can supply it or give you some Information on it and also a price! Some Sterling Silver items can be problems too sometimes, because some manufacturers electroplate the Sterling Silver with Nickel or Rhodium, to prevent oxidization of the Sterling Silver!

That's a good idea to sell to the store owners, never having to polish the plated Sterling Silver items while on display in their store for years! But for the customer, it will cause problems in time, because the plating wears off on the edges and higher surfaces and then it looks a mess! A half plated and half oxidized piece of jewellery is not very pretty to look at and nothing can be done to it to correct it, except to re-plate the item... to last another while longer.

I am against such "enhancements" of the already beautiful Sterling Silver jewellery! It just cheapens it in looks and overall! As I mentioned earlier, some manufactures do this to sell their Sterling Silver items better to the stores because they would have no problems with the item oxidizing, while on their store display for years, as it's not been worn.

Sterling Silver items, one can always polish them and bring that beautiful shine of the Silver color back to life, no matter how old the item is. An item stamped "Sterling Silver" means 92.5% of the metal is pure Silver and the rest of the alloy added is pure copper to give it a little bit more hardness!

Sincere greetings from your personal Goldsmith (to be, I hope!) ;-)

Hartmut Reinsch
from West York Jewellers
Toronto / CANADA

For more information, please read my other articles about Buying and Selling Jewellery, About Old Gold and Taking Care of Your Jewellery.

Have a Question? Get the Answer! info@westyorkjewellers.com


Hartmut Reinsch
West York Jewellers
January 2003