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Antique and Vintage Jewellery Lecture:

Combinations of Metals

Combination of various metals in jewellery

The pairing of different metals in jewellery is not arbitrary and has a historical context. Around two to three centuries ago, it was customary to set diamonds in silver. Craftsmen believed that only a silver setting could truly enhance the brilliance of a precious stone. Typically, the backs of these pieces were gold. This silver-on-gold technique—where a thin layer of gold shields the back of the silver jewellery—was devised to prevent the silver from leaving black marks on clothing or skin. For examples of such creations, click here to explore our collection.

As craftsmen grew accustomed to employing dual layers of metal, they continued this practice into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, instead of silver, they began using platinum, a metal as valuable as gold but without the tendency to stain. Thus, the use of gold became more about aesthetics than functionality. The combination of two different coloured metals can still be found in jewellery from the 1940s, commonly referred to as Retro style. To see our collection of such items, click here.

An Endearing Urban Legend Circulates:

Contrary to its current status, platinum was not always deemed a precious metal. In early 19th-century Russia, counterfeiters used platinum cores to forge 'golden roubles,' capitalising on its high density. It wasn't until around 1870 that platinum gained recognition as a valuable metal, causing its price to surge. Legend has it that roubles were subsequently sliced in half in the hopes of discovering platinum within—whether true or not, it remains an engaging tale.

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