Precious metals are part and parcel of the history of ornamentation. Without them, jewellery making, the jewellery trade and clock and watch making would not be what they are today. Precious metals have fascinated mankind since they were first discovered. Like gems, they are appreciated for their beauty, rarity and specific properties. Some are more durable and resistant than others. For example, gold stands the test of time and keeps its beauty, while sterling silver tarnishes in air.
The intrinsic properties of precious metals make them ideal for use in jewellery. They are malleable and ductile and can be mixed with other metals to make them tougher.
When alloyed with other metals, they develop specific qualities and are therefore assigned a standard. In Canada, the standards are defined in the Precious Metals Marking Act and its regulations. Legislating the precious metals industry is a matter for the federal government. In Canada, four precious metals are recognized: gold, silver, platinum and palladium, as well as alloys of these metals.
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