Understanding Precious Metals

It Doesn't Have To Be A Hard Thing

Since the beginning of time, shiny objects have attracted man, To that end, it is not surprising that the shinier the metal and the harder it is to find, the more it will cost. Some metals have interesting properties (like conducting electricity), while others are very non-reactive, making them suitable for industrial purposes... or even medical uses like dental fillings.

There are generally four precious metals that relate to collectibility and are used in jewelry:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Palladium

These precious metals have been collected, forged/shaped into usage in one of the following ways:

  • Bullion
  • Coinage
  • Jewelry
  • Medical Usage (think dental fillings)
  • Industrial Usage (electronics, etc.)

If you are looking to sell, whether it be jewelry, coins, bullion, scrap metal, dental gold or tableware, we are interested! Please take a look at our buying page.

A Look At Each Metal


Perhaps the best known metal in the world, Gold, is coveted and desired by all. Out of the reach of some, it can be surprisingly available and affordable with the right eye for buying.

Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal.

Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed (mixed) with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower karat rating (typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k) contain higher percentages of copper, other base metals, silver or palladium in the alloy.

The following is the actual gold content of each typically found alloy:

                  • 24K - Pure Gold
                  • 22K - 91.667%
                  • 18K - 75.000%
                  • 14K - 58.333%
                  • 10K - 41.667%

18K, 14K, and 10K have generally been the versions used for jewelry.


Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin argentum, derived from the Proto-indo-European herg: "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. As a soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal.

Silver is much more affordable than gold (gold is more than 50x more expensive), and has a rich tradition for use in jewelry, industrial and medical uses.

Fine Silver is .999 pure; this grade is often used in bullion or coin form for commodity collecting/saving, but is generally not used for jewelry as it is too soft. The most common type of silver alloy used in jewelry is Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver is .925 pure silver mixed with other metals (usually copper) for strengthening or color. You may also see .900 (commonly known as "Coin Silver"), which is often made from melted coins that were 90% silver (like US coins prior to 1965). Silver from such countries as Germany and Canada were often .800 (80%) to .835 (83.5%).


Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious, silverish-white transition metal. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platino, meaning "little silver".

It is one of the rarer elements in the Earth's Crust, with an average abundance of approximately 5 ug/kg. It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits (mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production). Approximately 34% of all Platinum is used to make jewelry. While harder than gold and appreciated for its "white" color, it was once considered a more precious/valuable metal than gold. It has since been surpassed in value with the adoption of white gold.


Palladium is a chemical element with the sumbol Pd and atomic number 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epither of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired by her when she slew Pallas. More than half the supply of palladium and its congener platinum is used in automobile manufacturing for catalytic converters. The largest concentrations of Palladium are in South Africa, Thunder Bay Canada and Russia.

Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939. It is an alternative to platinum in the alloys called "white gold", where the naturally white color of palladium does not require rhodium plating. Palladium is much less dense than platinum. Similar to gold, palladium can be beaten into leaf.

Form Factors


Bullion is gold, silver or other precious metals in the form of bars, ingots or specialized coins that is said to maintain its worth better than conventional currencies. It is therefore kept as a form of emergency currency by both governments and private citizens alike. Typically, bullion is used for trade on a global market where government backed currencies may not be sufficient. The word "bullion" comes from the French word bouillon (which meant "boiling") and was the term for the activity of a melting house which creates the ingots or bars from the raw material. The value of bullion is typically determined by the value of its precious metals content, which is defined by its purity and mass.

Please take at out Precious Metals page for more information about bullion, and the types of bullion that we are always looking to have in stock. If you are interested in selling, please take a look at our buying page, or just give us a call at (831) 643-9931.


A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a government. Coins often have images, numerals, or text on them. Prior to coinage, bullion was most likely used for this role,

The earliest coins are mostly associated with Iron Age Anatolia of the late 7th century BC, and especially with the kingdom of Lydia.

Coins range in attractiveness from a piece of art created by dedicated craftsmen to boring hunks of poured metal that were stamped. Over the years, different coins have come and gone with the civilizations and governments that issued them. Governments have changed coinage with the name and face of the new ruler, recovery of precious metals, or in attempt to take money out of circulation by convincing its population to "collect" the coins, often termed commemorative.

Coins can have any combination of three values:

  • Face Value (what the issuer says it is worth)
  • Intrinsic Value (Its worth if you melt it down for its metal value)
  • Numismatic Value (Its value as a collectible)

Please take at out coin page for more information about coin values, and the types of coins that we are always looking to have in stock. If you are interested in selling, please take a look at our buying page, or just give us a call at (831) 643-9931.


The earliest known Jewelry was actually created not by humans (Homo Sapiens) but by Neanderthal living in Europe. Specifically, perforated beads made from small sea shells have been found dating to 115,000 years ago in the Cueva de los Aviones, a cave along the southeast coast of Spain. Around seven-thousand years ago, the first sign of copper jewelry appeared. The first signs of established gold jewelry making in Ancient Egypt was around 3,000–5,000 years ago.

Jewelry now comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. At A Niche in Tyme, we specialize in the highest quality Sterling Silver jewelry with semi-precious stones. In addition, we do a brisk trade in second-hand estate jewelry of all precious metal and precious stone types (including diamonds, rubies, and emeralds). This means that we can always offer unique pieces at all price levels to meet your needs and interests. Please visit our estate jewelry page to learn more.

If you are interested in selling, please take a look at our buying page, or just give us a call at (831) 643-9931.

Medical Usage

Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium have all been used over the years for medical purposes, including dental fillings, attachment pins, device materials for implants, and even as implanted bases for radioactive isotopes to treat cancer!

If you have any dental or scrap gold that you are interested in selling, please take a look at our buying page, or just give us a call at (831) 643-9931.

Industrial Usage

Believe it or not, Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium have actually been used for many years for industrial uses. Gold, as an example, is used in the building of satellites, astronaut space suits, and computer motherboards.

Silver has been used for generations for things like the reflective coating of mirrors, photographs, batteries, solar electric cells, and many of the household items.

Over 50% of the industrial demand for Platinum is for automobile manufacturing (used in catalytic converters). It is also heavily used in the chemical industry as a reactant, as well as the computer industry in the manufacture of hard drives.

We Are Always Buying

So... you have decided that you have an item (or several) that you no longer utilize and wish to trade or sell. At A Niche In Tyme, we are committed to ensuring that we provide the utmost transparency and information to a potential seller about their item, what we would pay, and how we justify the price.

With us, you will always understand what your items are worth and what we are willing to pay for it. By default, we clearly post current metals spot market values on a big board right in front of you at our buying station. You know what we know, and have the information needed to make your best decision.

Please take a look below at our buying page for all you need to know about buying and selling precious metals, jewelry and coins... or just give us a call at (831) 643-9931.