Gold, Watches, Jewelry
Genuine gold bars, fashion jewelry, quality control for highly valuable watches – non-destructive testing of everything that is costly.
Because articles that come in contact with human skin should be free of harmful materials and allergenic substances, new regulations for consumer protection are in the works to restrict the content of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and other toxic or allergenic elements in fashion jewelery, watch parts, and accessories, as well as in the metal fastenings and ornaments on handbags, wallets or clothing. This analytical challenge requires measuring equipment that can quickly and easily detect even the tiniest amounts of these substances.
In today's hectic world, there are few people who can do without a wristwatch. The importance of this "cultural companion" has also changed in recent decades. For some, it just tells the time, helping its wearer to structure daily routines. For others, however, it is jewelery made of precious metal, some even set with diamonds and other gemstones. But what most of them have in common is a dial: a signature feature of any watch, and a very delicate part exposed to significant stressors.
In the medium price segment, “gold” watches are generally made of stainless steel coated with 20 microns of an 18ct Au alloy. The gold plating should serve decorative purposes and at the same time being durable. This expensive coating must be controlled by precise measurements to guarantee performance while limiting cost.
Sterling Silver is often used for making jewelery and decorative items. However, one common problem with silver is surface oxidation, or "tarnishing". To prevent or at least reduce this effect, various alloy elements are added to the silver.
Gold and precious metals have always been popular investment objects. However, due to the sky-rocketing prices of precious metals in recent years, the production of counterfeit gold bars has become a booming industry; more and more sophisticated fakes emerge ever more frequently, leading to much uncertainty in the market and investor wariness. This is why the demand for fast, reliable and non-destructive testing has also been on the rise.
In recent years gold and other precious metals have drastically increased in value, making the purity of the base components the most important attribute of any precious metal product. Therefore, precisely determining alloy composition and monitoring the trace and minor elements they contain is critical. Testing high-value coins and identifying fakes requires a reliable, accurate and non-destructive measurement technique.
For assayers and refiners of precious metals, material analysis instruments must fulfill exacting requirements. Just determining the precise gold content is not enough: It is important to ascertain the complete composition of the alloy, including elements like platinum or silver. In addition to reliably generating comprehensive, accurate, and reproducible results, the ideal analysis procedure should also be fast, easy to use, and – of course! – non-destructive.
The economic crisis has coincided with historically high gold prices to boost the importance of so-called “cash for gold” businesses. Because the buyer usually has only a few minutes to estimate the value of gold items presented for sale, methods like touchstone analysis are often used: Although this test severely scratches the piece it is still not 100% reliable. The industry demands a precise, quick and foolproof method for testing gold content that is, above all, non-destructive.
For finishing purposes silverware is often plated or blanched. In the plating process, a pure silver coating is applied to a silver/copper alloy. This produces an attractive, white satin sheen. Blanching achieves the same effect by chemically removing copper from the topmost layer of the silver/copper alloy. The result of both methods is a veneer of much higher silver content than the substrate, which complicates the determination of the fineness, and therefore, of the value of the silverware.