Precious Metals & Gems

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The most common diamond cuts, as of 2014, include round, emerald, princess and radiant. A diamond’s cut is normally determined by the size and shape of the original, rough stone.

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  • How is nickel obtained?

    Q: How is nickel obtained?

    A: Nickel has to be mined from ore. It is mined in 23 countries around the world and refined in 25 countries. Some of the countries where nickel is easiest to obtain are Canada, Russia, Cuba, China, Australia and Greece. Major countries that refine or smelt nickel include France, Japan, Norway, Finland and the United Kingdom.
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  • Why does sterling silver turn black?

    Q: Why does sterling silver turn black?

    A: Sterling silver turns black or tarnishes due to a chemical reaction caused by contact with sulfur or hydrogen. Some foods or everyday items containing sulfur can cause tarnishing, but even polluted air can turn sterling silver black.
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  • How is silver made?

    Q: How is silver made?

    A: Silver is usually obtained as a by-product of the process of purifying other metals such as copper, lead and zinc. Silver can also be collected from refining gold or from silver ores. It is usually separated from its ores using a flotation process and then purified by smelting.
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  • What are the birthstones for each month?

    Q: What are the birthstones for each month?

    A: The gemstone for January is garnet; for February, amethyst; for March, aquamarine; for April, diamond; for May, emerald; for June, pearl and Alexandrite; for July, ruby; for August, peridot; for September, sapphire; for October, opal and tourmaline; for November, topaz and citrine; and for December, tanzanite, zircon and turquoise. A birthstone is a gem linked to a particular month of the year.
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  • Does silver-plated jewelry tarnish?

    Q: Does silver-plated jewelry tarnish?

    A: Since sterling silver is an alloy, it tarnishes when it comes into contact with sulfur particles, which are found in abundance in the air. For this reason, all sterling silver jewelry tarnishes, even silver-plated jewelry, according to Simply Sterling of Colorado. Lotions and perfumes may speed up the process.
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  • Where does gold come from?

    Q: Where does gold come from?

    A: Gold comes from almost every continent, with China and Australia the largest producers as of 2015, according to Mining Technology. A team of Harvard scientists believes that gold is formed when two neutron stars collide, according to a report by USA Today.
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  • What are baguette-cut diamonds?

    Q: What are baguette-cut diamonds?

    A: Baguette-cut diamonds are step cut diamonds with a long, rectangular shape. They are mainly used as side stones and come in small weights, usually less than one carat.
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  • How are rubies formed?

    Q: How are rubies formed?

    A: According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, rubies are formed when the mineral corundum is exposed to chromic oxide in metamorphic environments between 1148 to 1238 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also two prominent methods of making synthetic rubies in a laboratory. The flame-fusion method produces a gem with notable imperfections. The flux-growth method produces a synthetic ruby that is nearly indistinguishable from a real one.
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  • Can you break a diamond?

    Q: Can you break a diamond?

    A: Yes, you can break a diamond. Hitting a diamond with a hard blow from a hammer, for instance, is liable to crack, split or outright shatter the diamond.
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  • What is a diamond's streak?

    Q: What is a diamond's streak?

    A: "Streak" is the word used to describe the color of a diamond when it is reduced to powder form. It has nothing do do with an actual streak.
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  • Where can I find the price of copper?

    Q: Where can I find the price of copper?

    A: As of January 2015, one place consumers can find the price of copper is NASDAQ, and another is Investment Mine. NASDAQ states that its quote is based on end-of-day commodity futures, and it is focused on high-grade copper. Consumers can also change the time frame reported to view past quotes.
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  • What is a solitaire diamond?

    Q: What is a solitaire diamond?

    A: A diamond solitaire refers to any piece of single-diamond jewelry, though it often refers to engagement rings. Round shapes are popular for solitaires, though many cuts and colors are appropriate for such jewelry, according to About.com Jewelry expert Carly Wickell.
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  • What are five ways to choose a diamond and determine quality?

    Q: What are five ways to choose a diamond and determine quality?

    A: Determining the quality of a diamond involves the consideration of its cut, clarity, color, carat size and certification. Certification through an accredited organization, such as the American Gem Society or the Gemological Institute of America, lets the buyer know that the diamond being purchased has the qualities that the seller claims that it has.
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  • What does DWT stand for?

    Q: What does DWT stand for?

    A: The acronym "DWT" stands for "diamond weight total," which means the total weight of all diamonds comprising pieces of jewelry, such as rings, bracelets, pendants, watches and necklaces. Due to deviations in diamond weights, some jewelers use other notations, including "CWT" for "carat weight total" and "CTW" for "carat total weight."
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  • What is the difference between platinum and silver?

    Q: What is the difference between platinum and silver?

    A: Platinum weighs more than silver and is much denser. Platinum also has a much whiter and shinier appearance, where as silver appears to have a duller gray appearance. Platinum is much more expensive than silver, because it is more difficult to extract it from the ground,
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  • Is all silver considered sterling?

    Q: Is all silver considered sterling?

    A: A silver alloy is considered sterling silver if the alloy contains at least 92.5 percent silver but less than 99.9 percent silver, which is considered fine silver. Sterling silver contains a minimal amount of other metals that increase durability while maintaining the beauty and value of silver, according to Zales.
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  • What makes brass dull?

    Q: What makes brass dull?

    A: While brass tarnishes over time, especially if it is unvarnished and exposed to the air, special compounds, such as Rocker's Brass Darkening Solution or Brass Ager, can be used to create the look of aged, dull brass quickly. Lacquer must be removed before using a brass-dulling solution.
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  • What is gold overlay?

    Q: What is gold overlay?

    A: Gold overlay is a thick coating of gold that jewelers lay over metal jewelry. The process has been around for thousands of years, and jewelry that undergoes this process is more valuable than other types of jewelry that has gold added to it in a different way. In gold-plated jewelry, the gold is plated on top of the metal and doesn't last as long as gold overlay.
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  • What does a ruby look like?

    Q: What does a ruby look like?

    A: Rubies are bright red precious stones which can be anywhere from transparent to opaque. They are the red version of corundum. According to Minerals.net, rubies get a nine on the hardness scale.
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  • Where do Swarovski crystals come from?

    Q: Where do Swarovski crystals come from?

    A: Swarovski crystals are machine-cut crystal beads made in Austria. Daniel Swarovski developed the formula in the 1800s. Swarovski crystals are silver in color and are used in necklaces, rings, watches, earrings and bracelets.
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  • What is the difference between gold-filled jewelry and gold-plated jewelry?

    Q: What is the difference between gold-filled jewelry and gold-plated jewelry?

    A: Gold-plated jewelry consists of a lower-quality base metal coated with a very thin layer of gold through a chemical process, while gold-filled jewelry has a thicker layer of gold bonded to a base metal through heat and pressure. Although both gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry consist of a base layer covered with gold, they differ in the process used to attach the gold and the thickness of the gold.
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