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The fineness of a precious metal refers to the ratio of the primary metal to any additives or impurities traditionally expressed as parts per 1,000. A piece of alloy metal containing a precious metal may have the weight of its precious component referred to as its fine weight. For example, 1 troy ounce of 18 karat gold (which is 75% gold) may be said to have a fine weight of 0.75 troy ounces. Many precious metals are used in the form of alloys.

Other metals are added to increase hardness, to make the metal more practical for use in such items as coins and jewelry, or to decrease the cost of the alloy. For example, copper is added to the precious metal silver to make a more durable alloy for use in coins, housewares and jewelry.

A traditional measure for the fineness of silver in Britain is the mass of the amount of silver in 12 troy ounces of the resulting alloy. Britannia silver has a fineness of 11 troy ounces, 10 pennyweights, or about 95.83% silver, whereas sterling silver has a fineness of 11 troy ounces, 2 pennyweights, or about 92.5% silver.

In other locations fineness is measured in units of mass per thousand. In the United States, silver coins often had a fineness of 900, meaning 90% silver and 10% copper. The fineness (or purity) of gold is commonly measured in carats or karats. The upper end of the scale is 24 carat for 100%. Thus 18 carat = 18/24 = 75%.

About the author 

Nathan Tarrant

Nathan has worked in financial services, marketing, and strategic business growth for over 30 years, as well as working in internet marketing since 1998.

In 2008 after the financial crash, Nathan operated as a financial & investment advisor to delegates of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and senior managers of Fortune 500 companies in Geneva, Switzerland.

He started Gold Trends as he enjoys working with alternative investments, having advised on them in the past.

Please note: Nathan is no longer a financial or investment advisor. The information he shares on this site is purely for education and information purposes only. You can read more on the About page.

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