Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is a quaint place, a favourite stop for many tourists. More than 40% of jewellery in the UK comes from Birmingham. There are more than 500 jewellery companies there today. In fact, many modern developments came from the area.
To know anything about jewellery, Birmingham is where you should go. You can learn about the history and art of jewellery making, and find places to buy tools and raw materials for making your own. The most common metals for jewellery are gold, silver, and platinum.
Most people associate jewellery with something made of gold in all its forms. Gold is a relatively soft, rare metal that is easy to work with. You can make jewellery using a variety of methods, including casting and threading. You can make a thread 50 miles long or a flat sheet that covers 100 square feet with one ounce of gold, Jewelcast.co.uk states.
Jewellery designers can create unique pieces with gold that is not possible with other metals. It is also non-reactive, which means it will not tarnish or corrode. In most cases, however, jewellery makers do not work with pure gold. They mix it with other metals to make it less soft, especially in casting. Gold alloys show more detail than pure gold and keep its shape longer.
Silver is not as rare as gold, but it is also a popular metal for jewellery because it is beautiful. It is harder to work with than gold, however, because it conducts heat instead of melting. This is the reason students practice soldering on silver before moving up to gold.
The main problem with pure silver is it tarnishes, so you have to put more effort to keep it shiny. It is also soft, so jewellery makers mix it with other metals to make it more durable. Britannia silver has 95.4% silver, and the rest is another metal, usually copper. However, the most common silver alloy used for jewellery is sterling silver, which has 92.5% silver. Sterling silver is also popular for high-end cutlery and teapots, hence the term “silverware.”
Platinum is a metal that looks like silver, but it is much rarer than gold and silver. It is more durable than gold and does not tarnish like silver. Many wedding and engagement rings today are made of platinum. However, its use for jewellery is quite recent. This is because platinum was hard to refine back in the day. Some people even thought it was unripe gold, so it was worthless. Jewellery makers only started to realise its value and use it in 1900, and it works well with most methods. Today, jewellery makers use a mix of 90% platinum and 10% iridium, which has very similar properties to platinum.
Jewellery manufacturers work with all kinds of metals, not just gold, silver, and platinum. The metal and method used to depend on the design. Your best bet to get it right is to go to Birmingham.