Starting a Fine Jewelry Business, Part 1 Primer

There are three convincing reasons why it is profitable to engage in the business of jewelry making. First, the Philippines is considered today as one of the leading producers of gold in Asia. Aside from this, records show that Philippines ranks ninth among the largest gold-producing countries in the world. (South Africa, Russia, USA and Canada produce 80% of the world’s gold.)

Gold mines in the Philippines yield thousands of kilos of the precious metal. In 1989, for instance, the Philippines contributed about 30,000 kilos of gold to the world market.

The top ten gold-producing provinces in the country which are known for their richest gold mines, are Benguet, Isabela, Masbate, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga, Agusan, Misamis Oriental, Surigao, Davao Oriental and South Cotabato. (The Mountain Province and Masbate are the principal gold districts in the Philippines.

Since gold is regarded as the most widely used material and the ultimate precious metal in jewelry making since the ancient civilizations, statistics bodes well for Filipinos who wish to be entrepreneurs in the jewelry industry.

The second reason why prospects appear bright for jewelry making in the country is the recognition of the expert craftsmanship of the Filipinos in the art of gold smith. This may be a surprise to many but the jewelries of Meycauayan, Bulacan have been internationally acclaimed for their excellent craftsmanship, particularly, by the High Diamond Council of Antwerp, Belgium.

The human desire to embellish the body is ancient and universal. This is the third reason why jewelry making in the Philippines will continue long before other industries have gone.

Regardless of social rank or economic status, the Filipino are instinctively appreciative and have a penchant for fine jewelry – be it genuine or imitation.

In the course of the development of society, jewelry was used to denote rank (especially in Europe by late Middle Ages)-a function that still survives today. The primary purpose however, is to adorn its wearer and enhance his or her glamor and sexual attraction.

Basic Facts About Silver

Silver is a heavy metallic element with a brilliant white lustre. Its chemical symbol, Ag., which was derived from its Latin name argentum, meaning “white and shining”, is a vary apt description of this precious metal. Together with gold, platinum, iridium and palladium, silver is categorized as noble metal because it does not oxidize readily when heated, nor does it dissolves in most of the organic acids.

Next to gold, silver is the most malleable and ductile (the ability to be hammered and drawn) metal known. It is harder than gold but softer than copper. Thus, unless alloyed with other metals, silver are difficult to turn into coins.
In modern jewelry making, silver is mixed with another metal or several metals to get the desired hardness and color. The mixture of compound produced is called an alloy. Copper is considered as the best hardening agent for silver because it enhances the strength of silver and reduces its melting point as well.

Jewelry silver is an alloy containing about 80 percent silver and 20 percent copper. Gold dental alloys contain about 75 percent gold and 10 percent silver. The yellow gold used in jewelry is composed of 53 percent gold, 25 percent silver and 32 percent copper.

The value of silver is usually based on its alloy content. For instance, a 100 % silver is called fine silver. The metal is called sterling silver when it is composed of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper. In this quality, silver has warmer tints (rather than the brilliant lustre of pure silver.)

Despite its unique properties, only about six percent of the world production of silver goes to coinage and only about 10% to jewelry, silver plate, and sterling silver ware. However, since silver is less expensive than gold, it is widely used in jewelry making.

Note: An alloy is defined as a metallic substance composed of two or more elements, either as compound or a solution. The components of alloys are ordinarily themselves metals (though carbon, a nonmetal, is an essential constituent of steel). Alloys are usually produced by melting the mixture of ingredients, such as in the examples mentioned above. The value of alloys was discovered in very ancient times in brass (copper and zinc) and bronze (copper and tin).

Basic Facts About Gold

Gold (Au, meaning aurum) is a dense, bright yellow and lustrous metal. Pure gold occurs in nature, but it is usually found in gold bearing rocks or ores, which must be mined. It is found in small amounts throughout the world.

Gold is chemically inactive (inert) so it never corrodes, oxidizes or rusts and tarnishes; it does not dissolve except in aqua regia (hydrochloric and nitric acids). It is soft and the most malleable and ductile of metals; hence it is easily and beautifully worked for kinds of ornaments.

Unlike silver (whose uses and applications in industry are varied), more gold is used in jewelry and watch making than in industry.

In its pure state, gold is so soft that it loses its sharp in everyday use and is difficult to use as jewelry. Pure gold easily gets scratched or deformed. Because of these, gold is mixed or alloyed with other metals such as silver, palladium or platinum for it to harden and improve its durability and beauty.

Most gold in modern jewelry is alloyed with silver, copper, and a little zinc to produce various shades of yellow gold; with nickel, copper and zinc to produce white gold.

Along with silver, gold was among the first metals to be worked and has been regarded as tokens of wealth and symbols of power by the earliest civilizations. However because it is scarce and its production costly, the price of gold has always been high compared with other metals.

source: TRC Business Guide, www.trc.dost., photo from


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