History of Sterling Silver

History of Sterling Silver

Characteristics of Sterling Silver

The whitest of all of the precious metals, sterling silver has been heralded for centuries for its highly lustrous finish and versatile applications. Although harder than gold, sterling silver is still considered one of the more pliable and supple metals. Its malleability makes silver easy to hammer and mold into various forms and shapes. Silver melts at a slightly lower temperature than gold (1760 degrees F as opposed to 1960 degrees F).

 

 

Naming & History of Sterling Silver

Dating back to the time of primitive man, silver has been referred to by many different naming conventions. The story of how the word “sterling” was incorporated into the name is rooted in 12th-century lore. As payment for English cattle, an association of eastern Germans compensated the British with silver coins dubbed “Easterlings.” Eventually, the Easterling was widely accepted as a standard of English currency. The name was ultimately abbreviated to “Sterling,” which is now used to refer to the highest grade of silver metal.

 

The official designation of “sterling” to a piece of silver indicates that it contains at least 92.5% of pure silver. The remaining 7.5% can be comprised of any other metal alloy, most commonly copper. Although it may seem that an even higher silver content would be desirable, that’s not actually the case. Metal alloys with a silver content of more than 92.5% are too pliable to be used without suffering from dents and dings. The second alloy is required to ensure the metal’s stability and resilience.

 

Other Types of Silver
In addition to sterling silver, which contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper alloy, there are many different varieties and grades of silver in production throughout the world:

 

Fine silverThis type of silver has a silver content of 99.9% or higher. Fine silver is much too soft to be used in everyday applications, such as jewelry, d?r accents, or tableware. This premium class of silver is used to make bullion bars for international commerce.

 

Britannia silver: A higher grade than sterling silver, Britannia has a silver content of at least 95.84%. Originating as a standard in Britain as far back as 1697, Britannia silver is denoted by a hallmark stamp of “958” to indicate its silver content, sometimes accompanied by the symbol of Britannia.

 

Mexican silver: Another premium silver, Mexican silver consists of at least 95% pure silver and 5% copper. This elite form of the metal is not currently in wide circulation in Mexico; most of the silver jewelry and accents sold in Mexican marketplaces is forged from 92.5% sterling.

 

 Coin silver: Comprised of 90% silver and 10% copper, coin silver is made from melting down standard silver coins. Lower in silver content than sterling, this metal was widely used as silver tableware in the United States between 1820 and 1868, and as common currency until 1964.

 

 German silver: This term is usually used to refer to 800-standard silver, which consists of 80% silver and is commonly used for silverware, silver tableware, and decorative silver accents. 900-standard silver is another higher-grade version of German silver, and has a 90% silver content.

 

 

History of Sterling Silver in Fine Dining
If you’ve ever attended a very formal dinner party, you may have noticed the use of sterling silver tableware in some capacity. With its polished luster and timeless elegance, the addition of silver has the power to turn any ordinary meal into an elaborate event. Although used more sparingly today, the precious metal was historically a key component in setting a proper table.

 

The use of sterling silver in fine dining was most prevalent between 1840 and 1940, with the biggest surge between 1870 and 1920. During this time, the production and merchandising of silver ramped up considerably to accommodate the growing demand.

 

During the Victorian era, it was frowned upon to ever touch or handle food without the use of a utensil. The ultimate criterion for a fine dining table was sterling silver flatware, a must when setting a table for a formal meal in the United States and Europe. Silver flatware collections were extensive, often including up to 100 pieces. Formal dinners in the late 1800s and early 1900s were long, extravagant affairs, sometimes including up to 10 or more courses, each of which demanded its own set of silver utensils. It wasn’t uncommon to use several different types of sterling silver forks, spoons, and knives during a typical dinner.

 

Sterling silver was also used for serving pieces, such as large forks, cake knives, carving knives, soup spoons, and gravy ladles. In addition to its pleasing aesthetic properties, silver’s heft and stability made it a serviceable tool for cutting and serving food. Often, silver serving pieces were embellished with hand-carved designs and ivory accents.

 

And it didn’t stop there. Decorative table accents included sterling silver napkin rings, coasters, and elaborate silver candlesticks. After the meal, the precious metal was used for pots of hot water for tea, post-dinner liqueur goblets, sterling silver water pitchers, silver mint julep cups, and dishes of melted chocolate for topping desserts.

 

The prevalence of sterling silver in fine dining waned a bit in the mid-1900s, mainly due to rising costs of silver production. With modernity came a faster pace of life-people were busier and more rushed, and the elaborate, multi-course dinners that had once been the norm were relegated to only very special occasions among the upper class. Sterling silver dishes and tableware required a more time-consuming cleaning process than other materials, which also contributed to its diminishing popularity at the dinner table.

 

Today, although it’s not as widely used as it was during the Victorian era, there are many different ways you can revive the tradition of incorporating pure sterling silver tableware into a fine dining setting. Display hors d’oeuvres on a silver platter, or fill ornate silver cups with sugar and cream for coffee. Sterling silver flatware continues to make a grand impression, and serves as a luxurious wedding or housewarming gift. Accents such as silver candlesticks, vases, and sterling silver place card holders are also great ways to include the fine metal in your table decor.

 

https://www.silvergallery.com/history-of-sterling-silver/

Facts About Silver Jewelry And Gold Jewelry Metals/

Facts About Silver Jewelry And Gold Jewelry Metals/

What You Should Know – Silver and Gold Jewelry

About Silver Accessories and Karat Gold Jewelry

The two precious metals most often used in jewelry are alloys of silver and gold.

There are many different alloys used in modern jewelry making.

The type of jewelry you can wear is not just determined by your wallet –
but also by the way your body reacts to and tolerates exposure to metals.

Sterling silver tarnishes, especially in hot, humid weather. It contains 7.5% copper
by weight, which reacts with common air pollutants, darkening the surface of the metal.

This can prompt skin irritation if your skin is sensitive to (usually) nickel or Fats about (sometimes) copper.

If you have noticed that you have an itch that persists with drying and reddening of your
skin where your jewelry touches it, you are probably sensitive to the alloy in the metal.

Gold and silver are known to be non – reactive metals; but that does not mean
that everyone can wear any type of gold or silver jewelry without any problem.

Understanding more about metals can help you to choose
jewelry that is more comfortable and healthy for you to wear!

Higher karat gold alloys tend to be better tolerated than lower karat qualities because there is
less of the reactive metal in the alloy. Many people wear 18K or 22K gold jewelry for this reason.

Sterling silver is .925 pure, or 92.5% silver by weight, a very high percentage.
Most people don’t have any problems wearing sterling silver jewelry.

Modern silver alloys don’t contain nickel, the usual irritant in jewelry metals. Lower percentage
silver alloys like vintage “European” silver can irritate your skin more easily than sterling silver jewelry
if you have copper sensitive skin, because old European silver is .800 fine, or 80% silver / 20% copper.

Following is a listing of metals commonly used in jewelry making and an explanation of their properties.


Gold Facts – Alloys, Karats, and more!

Pure 24K gold is hypoallergenic. It doesn’t cause irritation to the body.

However, the metals mixed with gold to make it harder or
enhance the color of gold can cause adverse skin reactions.

Gold is very malleable, meaning it can be hammered
into very thin sheets – thin enough for light to pass through.

Gold is also very ductile – it can be pulled
through drawplates into wire much thinner than hair.

Pure gold is very soft. It is very easy to work with hand tools.To make it harder
it is mixed with other metals, creating an alloy. Gold alloy purity is expressed in karats.

Gold alloys are available in many colors. The color of the alloy is determined
by the percentage and type(s) of metal “mixed” with the pure gold.

Rose gold contains more copper; until recently
white gold was traditionally made with nickel.

Now white gold is also made with palladium, a platinum
family metal; green gold is made with an alloy of fine silver.
As an example, most green gold is 18 karat; 75% gold, 25% silver.

There are MANY other colors made with alloy combinations.

The percentage of gold used is directly related to the karat content of the alloy.

It does not matter what type of metal is “mixed” with the gold, just how much.

The chart (below) shows how much gold is in your jewelry.


1k Gold = 4.17% Gold and 95.83% alloy

2k Gold = 8.33% Gold and 91.67% alloy

3k Gold = 12.5% Gold and 87.5% alloy

4k Gold = 16.67% Gold and 83.33% alloy

5k Gold = 20.83% Gold and 79.17% alloy

6k Gold = 25% Gold and 75% alloy

7k Gold = 29.17% Gold and 70.83% alloy

8k Gold = 33.3% Gold and 66.67% alloy

9k Gold = 37.5% Gold and 62.5% alloy

10k Gold = 41.67% Gold and 58.33% alloy

11k Gold = 45.83% Gold and 54.17% alloy

12k Gold = 50% Gold and 50% alloy

13k Gold = 54.17% Gold and 45.83% alloy

14k Gold = 58.33% Gold and 41.67% alloy

15k Gold = 62.5% Gold and 37.5% alloy

16k Gold = 66.67% Gold and 33.33% alloy

17k Gold = 70.83% Gold and 29.17% alloy

18k Gold = 75% Gold and 25% alloy

19k Gold = 79.1% Gold and 20.83% alloy

20k Gold = 83.33% Gold and 16.67% alloy

21k Gold = 87.5% Gold and 12.5% alloy

22k Gold = 91.67% Gold and 8.33% alloy

23k Gold = 95.83% Gold and 4.17% alloy

24k Gold = 100% Gold and 0% alloy


In this chart, “alloy” means the other metal. It can be
silver, copper, zinc, nickel, iron or almost any other metal.

For instance, 10 karat yellow gold is 41.67% pure gold and 58.33% “other metals”,
mostly copper, maybe some silver and most likely some nickel or zinc to add hardness.

In the United States gold must be at least 9K to be sold as karat gold.

Lower karat gold alloys have a  higher percentage of the other metals added to them.

They tend to react to the pollutants and other
impurities in the air faster than higher karat gold alloys.

This means that the high percentage of copper or other metal in the
lower karat alloy will tarnish (or oxidize), just like sterling silver items do.

This can occur especially in hot weather when the metals react to salt in perspiration.

If this happens to your sterling silver or lower karat gold jewelry, you may want to take it off
and wash the piece in hot water with a detergent like Dawn, Joy or whatever you prefer.

If your jewelry is really dirty, try scrubbing it carefully with a soft toothbrush.
Polish with a jewelry polishing cloth, if you have one. Rinse and dry before wearing.

If you have a problem with sterling silver, medium to
low karat gold will probably give you difficulties as well.

Medium to low karat yellow gold has a much higher percentage of copper in it than sterling silver.

Nickel allergies are the most common. Many people have problems wearing white gold –
the problem isn’t the gold. It’s actually nickel – the alloy – that causes skin reactions!

The new palladium white gold alloys are a bit more expensive, but are hypoallergenic.


Silver Jewelry Metal Facts

Sterling silver is generally used for jewelry, and that is what most people think of when they see silver.

Silver also comes in various quality grades, measured by 1/1000 parts per gram.

There are impurities that naturally occur in silver at the molecular level. These impurities
consist of other metals – usually copper, but traces of other metals can also be found.

These trace impurities are insignificant, and would be
too costly to remove – so .999 silver is considered pure.

The table (below) shows the types of silver alloys generally used in jewelry making.

Silver Alloys

.999 
fine silver

Contains .001 trace metals.

.9584
Britannia

95.84% silver + 4.16% copper.

.925
sterling

92.5% silver + 7.5% copper.

.900
coin

90% silver + 10% copper.

.830
European

83% silver + 17% copper.

.800
European

80% silver + 20% copper.

All the alloys shown are legally referred to as “silver”.

The only legal requirement is that they are quality stamped or marked for sale to the public.

Silver Facts

As with gold, silver in its fine state is a non – reactive metal – allergies are possible but VERY rare.

People who have problems wearing silver jewelry are usually
allergic to the copper in the alloyed metal, not the silver.

During the European Industrial Revolution, people found that their .800 silver was tarnishing
much faster than before – a reaction to the new pollutants in the air – from burning coal in the factories!

Fine, or pure, silver with no copper content does not tarnish easily. Think about the fine silver
coins brought up from wrecked ships – everything from the Atocha to sunken pirate ships.

They come up out of the ocean after hundreds of years bright and shiny as new.

Fine silver can get dirty, of course, but will not tarnish like sterling silver.

There is a new alloy called Argentium® Silver. It is sterling, but contains germanium in place of copper.

Argentium® doesn’t develop firescale as easily during soldering and doesn’t tarnish the way
traditional sterling silver does because the germanium doesn’t react as the copper does.


Plated and Filled

There are different grades and methods of bonding precious metals to
a less expensive base metal, as indicated in the chart below.

Finished, Washed, Colored

These terms refer to the thinnest gold, silver, platinum or rhodium coatings. 
There is no standard thickness.

Plated, Electroplated

These metals have a required minimum standard thickness – usually .15 – .25 mils

Gold, Platinum or Silver Filled metals

A layer of karat gold, platinum or silver is mechanically
bonded to a base metal, usually brass or steel.

Filled metals usually have a thickness over 100 times that of plated metals.

Gold filled may be  marked with the gold percentage by weight and the karat value.

If a piece of jewelry is marked 1/20 14K GF – 5% of the total weight is 14K gold.
However, this is not required by law. Most times the quality is stated on a hang tag.

There is no approved marking system in the US for filled metals.

 Vermeil Gold plated over silver

Silver is the “base” metal

Many jewelry items are made of either plated or filled metals.

This is done to keep the cost of these items as low as possible.

The whole piece can be plated or filled metal, as with a chain. In many cases, the clasp and
metal parts of an otherwise top quality gemstone bead necklace or bracelet can be plated or filled.

If it is taken care of and worn properly, such as over a sweater, a necklace with plated parts
can last for a very reasonable length of time, even years – but eventually the plated
metal parts will oxidize or the plating will wear through to the base metal.

Filled metals are much higher quality and a much longer useful lifespan.

They have one or more layers of precious metal bonded to a base with heat and pressure.

Filled materials are at least 1/20 precious metal by weight.

They are much longer lasting than ordinary plated objects.

Filled metal objects are not usually marked with a quality stamp, such as 12k GF or 14k GF.

For information on the care and cleaning of jewelry, please visit this article:Jewelry Care

Article written by Robert Edwards ©2015.
Robert is a jeweler and metalsmith, and is webmaster of http://www.jewelry24seven.com.

This article may be linked and used as content on blogs and websites conditionally … ALL content –
links, author, copyright – must not be changed in ANY way – it must appear exactly as the article appears above.

 

http://www.jewelry24seven.com/metal_facts.htm

PRECIOUS METAL JEWELRY

PRECIOUS METAL JEWELRY

Gumuchian Earrings

The word gold, used by itself, means all gold or it can refer to “pure” gold, meaning 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metal jewelry called alloys to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.
The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen-karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of an alloy metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry.

Jewelry should be marked with its karat quality. Near the karat quality mark, you also should see the name or the U.S. registered trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark. The trademark may be in the
form of a name, symbol or initials. If you don’t see a trademark accompanying a quality mark on a piece of jewelry, look for another piece.

List of precious metals:

Platinum is a type of precious metal jewelry that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.
Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as compared with gold jewelry, based on the amount of pure platinum in the piece. The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand.

For example, the marking 900 Platinum means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum, or in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum — Plat. or Pt. — also can be used in marking jewelry.

Metalsmiths Sterling

The words silver or sterling silver describe a product that contains 92.5% silver. Silver products sometimes may be marked 925 which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver.

Some jewelry may be described as silverplate: a layer of silver is bonded to a base metal. The mark coin silver is used for compounds that contain 90% silver. According to the law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark.

Choose a Precious Metal that Fits Your Lifestyle

We all know that different people have different interests. But did you know that when choosing jewelry, you can pick a metal that fits your interests?

Certain precious metals, platinum for instance, are more durable and fit an active lifestyle. Look at the lifestyles below, and see the metals that fit yours!

True Romantic Tim 

Tim leads a moderately active lifestyle. He likes to play sports with his friends, but you won’t catch him on the field every day.

When it comes to romance, he’s a traditionalist. What should he do to match his lifestyle?

Buy gold.

Coveted for its luster and beauty, gold is the traditional metal for wedding rings. However, gold continues to hold its own among a bevy of new metals.

The percentage of gold in a ring is measured by karats. Since gold is a relatively soft metal, the higher the percentage of gold (and the higher the karat), the softer the ring. Men’s rings generally are made in 10, 14 and 18 karat gold, so that the rings will be more durable.

Most gold jewelry is either yellow or white. The alloys used will alter the color. Some gold is plated with rhodium to make it appear a brighter white. Since the coating can wear away with time, active individuals may prefer a more durable white metal such as platinum or palladium.

Visit your local American Gem Society jeweler for quarterly polishing and cleaning to keep the luster alive.

Everyday Evelyn

Evelyn likes to wear jewelry every day. Earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces — and she likes to wear different jewelry often. What should she buy?

Silver.

Silver is the softest — and the least expensive — of the fine metals. Since it scratches easily, it is best used for jewelry that is not worn daily.

Since it is inexpensive, silver allows you to have many pieces you can switch out. People who are extremely active or enjoy gardening or working with their hands, may want to consider a harder metal.

Gotta Go Gary

Gary is active. He likes sports, and he often helps his wife in the garden. He’s found he often forgets to remove his gold wedding ring, and it is covered in scratches. What should Gary do?

Purchase titanium.

Coming in an array of silvery colors, titanium is a great metal for the most active of people. Titanium is the hardest of the metals, therefore more scratch, dent, and bend resistant. Another benefit is that in its pure form, titanium is 100% hypoallergenic.

Titanium does have its drawbacks: since it cannot be soldered, titanium rings cannot be sized and in an emergency, it is much harder to cut off than other metals.

Allergic Anna

Anna is young and active with many interests. But she also has sensitive skin, which white gold tends to irritate. Being young, she is still climbing the career ladder. What should she buy?

Palladium.

This is a popular choice among the young and active. As a white metal, palladium strikes a harmonic balance between white gold and platinum. Harder than gold, yet softer than platinum, palladium can be used in jewelry in its near pure form, making it hypoallergenic.

Also, palladium, unlike white gold, is naturally white. Palladium is also less expensive than platinum and can be sized and polished.

Nancy Nightlife

Nancy keeps her schedule full, day and night. She needs jewelry that can keep up with her and can have the style she needs if a late business dinner leaves her running for the night club. What should Nancy do?

Invest in platinum.

This prestigious — and expensive — metal is hypoallergenic dense, heavy and scratch resistant. It fits an active style where a sense of class and elegance are desired, even while on the run.

PRECIOUS METAL JEWELRY The word gold, used by itself, means all gold or it can refer to “pure” gold, meaning 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metal jewelry called alloys to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold. The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen-karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of an alloy metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry. Jewelry should be marked with its karat quality. Near the karat quality mark, you also should see the name or the U.S. registered trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark. The trademark may be in the form of a name, symbol or initials. If you don’t see a trademark accompanying a quality mark on a piece of jewelry, look for another piece.  List of precious metals: Platinum is a type of precious metal jewelry that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.  Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as compared with gold jewelry, based on the amount of pure platinum in the piece. The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking 900 Platinum means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum, or in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum — Plat. or Pt. — also can be used in marking jewelry. The words silver or sterling silver describe a product that contains 92.5% silver. Silver products sometimes may be marked 925 which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. Some jewelry may be described as silverplate: a layer of silver is bonded to a base metal. The mark coin silver is used for compounds that contain 90% silver. According to the law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark. Choose a Precious Metal that Fits Your Lifestyle We all know that different people have different interests. But did you know that when choosing jewelry, you can pick a metal that fits your interests? Certain precious metals, platinum for instance, are more durable and fit an active lifestyle. Look at the lifestyles below, and see the metals that fit yours! True Romantic Tim  Tim leads a moderately active lifestyle. He likes to play sports with his friends, but you won’t catch him on the field every day. When it comes to romance, he’s a traditionalist. What should he do to match his lifestyle? Buy gold. Coveted for its luster and beauty, gold is the traditional metal for wedding rings. However, gold continues to hold its own among a bevy of new metals. The percentage of gold in a ring is measured by karats. Since gold is a relatively soft metal, the higher the percentage of gold (and the higher the karat), the softer the ring. Men’s rings generally are made in 10, 14 and 18 karat gold, so that the rings will be more durable. Most gold jewelry is either yellow or white. The alloys used will alter the color. Some gold is plated with rhodium to make it appear a brighter white. Since the coating can wear away with time, active individuals may prefer a more durable white metal such as platinum or palladium. Visit your local American Gem Society jeweler for quarterly polishing and cleaning to keep the luster alive. Everyday Evelyn Evelyn likes to wear jewelry every day. Earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces — and she likes to wear different jewelry often. What should she buy? Silver. Silver is the softest — and the least expensive — of the fine metals. Since it scratches easily, it is best used for jewelry that is not worn daily. Since it is inexpensive, silver allows you to have many pieces you can switch out. People who are extremely active or enjoy gardening or working with their hands, may want to consider a harder metal. Gotta Go Gary Gary is active. He likes sports, and he often helps his wife in the garden. He’s found he often forgets to remove his gold wedding ring, and it is covered in scratches. What should Gary do? Purchase titanium. Coming in an array of silvery colors, titanium is a great metal for the most active of people. Titanium is the hardest of the metals, therefore more scratch, dent, and bend resistant. Another benefit is that in its pure form, titanium is 100% hypoallergenic. Titanium does have its drawbacks: since it cannot be soldered, titanium rings cannot be sized and in an emergency, it is much harder to cut off than other metals. Allergic Anna Anna is young and active with many interests. But she also has sensitive skin, which white gold tends to irritate. Being young, she is still climbing the career ladder. What should she buy? Palladium. This is a popular choice among the young and active. As a white metal, palladium strikes a harmonic balance between white gold and platinum. Harder than gold, yet softer than platinum, palladium can be used in jewelry in its near pure form, making it hypoallergenic. Also, palladium, unlike white gold, is naturally white. Palladium is also less expensive than platinum and can be sized and polished. Nancy Nightlife Nancy keeps her schedule full, day and night. She needs jewelry that can keep up with her and can have the style she needs if a late business dinner leaves her running for the night club. What should Nancy do? Invest in platinum. This prestigious — and expensive — metal is hypoallergenic dense, heavy and scratch resistant. It fits an active style where a sense of class and elegance are desired, even while on the run.

 

https://www.americangemsociety.org/en/precious-metal-jewelry

Don’t Get Fooled: 15 Things to Know Before Buying Bullion

Don’t Get Fooled: 15 Things to Know Before Buying Bullion

  

You’ve been thinking about investing in precious metals. It’s been on your radar for a while, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Fear not. I’ve got 15 tips to share with you. These are things you should be aware of before you attempt to buy bullion. Bullion was once an investment that was limited to the wealthiest individuals. Now it’s something anyone can hold. And with the 24/7 availability of secure on-line markets, it has never been easier to buy or sell. Follow these tips, and soon you’ll be investing like a pro.

1. Gold is gold

There’s nothing like gold. It’s a foundational investment, not a piece of paper like a stock or bond that is a promise of future payment. Rather, it’s something you can hold in your hands that have intrinsic value. Banks may go bankrupt, governments may fall, but gold will hold its value. People were trading in gold millennia ago, and they will be trading in precious metals thousands of years into the future. Your great-grandchildren can inherit your gold coins, and rest assured that the metal will not have lost value. At the very least, the coins will be worth what you paid for them in terms of their purchasing power.

2. Let the buyer beware

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to trading in gold, silver, platinum, or palladium. These are expensive investments to acquire, and unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to cheat you. Whenever I hear some blowhard at Starbucks touting the virtues of gold coins to a starry-eyed mark, I cringe. Education and knowledge are key to spotting a scam, and to avoiding the wrong kind of investment. If you don’t have the patience to learn the basics, do yourself a favor. Don’t bother.

3. Know yourself

Are you a safe-haven type investor? Do you want a hedge against inflation? These are both good reasons to buy bullion, and for many people, investment in gold can be part of a well-balanced portfolio. How you answer these questions should steer you to the right bullion investment. Seeking that safe-haven? You don’t want a leveraged or financed investment; you could end up losing more money than you were loaned. ETFs would also be inappropriate. Gold certificates are paper, and the whole point of getting into bullion for many is to avoid paper money. Gold shares are a speculative, high-risk investment. Own the gold outright. It’s the most conservative investment. Again, its purchasing power will remain stable over many years.

4. Know bullion

Bullion is sold as ingots or coins, by weight, and these ingots and coins come in different sizes. Gold bars start at the one-ounce size and go up from there in weight and price. The most popular one-ounce coins to hold (and also the easiest to liquidate) are the South African Krugerrandthe Canadian Maple Leaf, and the U.S. Gold Eagle. Coins with the numismatic value may command a premium. Jewelry may also be worth more than its weight in gold, but that’s unlikely unless Louis Comfort Tiffany produced it. But if you love it, and you want to wear your gold coin as a necklace, do so.

5. Consider your portfolio

Starting out, I would recommend that you invest no more than between ten and fifteen percent of your overall portfolio. Although gold is liquid, because its price can bounce around, and silver even more so, bullion is better to hold onto long term. Leave the day trading in precious metals to the professionals.

6. Understand the investment

Realize that bullion is an investment that won’t generate any income while you hold it; it’s not going to pay dividends or earn interest. But for the same reason, it also won’t subject you to any income taxes. Capital gains (or losses) only come into play when you sell. Before you do so, think about whether any potential gain will push you into the next higher tax bracket.

7. How to buy rare coins

Find a dealer you can trust. That person may be running the local coin store down the street, but do your due diligence. If you’re buying numismatic, historical, or collector coins—they have premium value for collectors over and above the melt value. Price depends on rarity and condition. You need someone who will give you a fair price. A guarantee to buy back the coin at the price you paid for it is a good sign. Check that the coin dealer adheres to the highest standards and holds a membership in the Professional Numismatists Guild. If you choose to invest in rare coins, as a novice, it might be wise to pick one coin to become an authority on. Be aware that the learning curve to become an expert is steep, but many people find coin-collecting fascinating and lucrative.

8. Understand how bullion is priced

The spot price is the current market price of gold that can be immediately delivered. The difference between the buying price and the selling price is the spread. The dealer pays a bid price to acquire bullion or bullion coins. The asking price is what you will pay. It is calculated based on the metal’s spot value, with an added-on premium. Because gold prices fluctuate constantly, gold bullion prices will as well.

9. How to buy bullion and coins without numismatic value

You want a low-cost purchase, so you need to find an individual or company who charges a small commission on the spot price. To vet any company you are considering doing business with, the Federal Trade Commission advises to check with the appropriate consumer protection agency—usually that’s going to be the Better Business Bureau—as well as the state’s attorney general’s office. Usually, the best price will come from an online company, one that does a high volume business; it keeps costs down. Silver Monthlyrecently profiled The Top 10 Online Bullion Dealers. Other considerations to weigh are how long the company has been in business and their communication style. When I have questions, I want answers, and I bet you do too.

10. Timing bullion purchases

Buy low, sell high. Trying to time the market can be a futile exercise. You might be better off smoothing out any price bumps by investing the same sum once a month or once a quarter, perhaps a thousand at a time. This technique is called dollar-cost averaging. Some precious metals experts pooh-pooh the strategy, saying wouldn’t you want to be all in when there’s a bull market raging, knowing that gold and silver are long term investments? It’s your call, and your decision, and it’s going to depend upon how risk adverse you are.

11. Know the lingo

If you were buying diamonds, cut, weight, and clarity matter. Gold is graded, coins are rated, and you need to know what you are buying, whether it’s a pure ingot or a centuries-old Spanish piece of eight salvaged from a shipwreck. Stick with top-of-the-line, nothing graded downward, because that precious metal will hold its value best.

12. Counterfeit bullion

Counterfeit gold and silver ingots, as well as gold coins, are currently being sold out of China. Some are high-quality, and to the inexpert eye, difficult to distinguish from the originals. By working with a dealer with a sterling reputation, one who’s been in business for years, this won’t be something for you to worry about. It’s definitely worth asking the question of someone you’re planning on doing business with: what kinds of tests do you do and what protocols do you have in place to ensure you’re not inadvertently selling fakes?

13. Storage

Gold is portable, and keeping it at home is possible. A personal safe provides peace of mind. If the bullion or coins are very valuable, your insurance provider may insist on a rider. Other than that insurance agent, no one should know that you keep gold in your home. Don’t let your home become a burglary target by showing off your darling Chinese panda coins to everyone who walks in the door. A safe-deposit box at the bank is another secure way to store the cache. Some gold investors recommend an independent depository as an even safer way to store bullion. If you have a lot invested in bullion, this is the way to go.

14. Avoid the deal of the day

High-pressure sales tactics abound among the unscrupulous. If a deal is only good today, no matter how good it appears, walk away. It’s likely that it’s only going to be a good deal for the seller. Remember, as with any long-term investment, you should take your time deciding what is right for you.

15. The future of gold

Gold is finite. There is a limit to what can be dug out of the earth, and thus I can predict future scarcity with certainty. Much of the gold that’s sold now is recycled, but not all of it can be. It’s Econ101: as any commodity becomes scarce, its price tends to rise. That bodes well for the future, and your investment. I hope this gives you enough information to enable you to begin investing in bullion, in a way that takes your investment goals and your own situation into consideration.

Don’t Get Fooled: 15 Things to Know Before Buying Bullion