Grills ‘n’ Gold

Dental professionals are capable of forming and fitting gold teeth for their patients, but there are some special cases where dentists and jewelers team up. Of course, we’re talking about grills.

Grills are a type of removable jewelry worn over the front of the teeth. While a jeweler may come up with the design for a grill, a dentist can ensure that the grill has a proper fit and does not damage the teeth over time. Grills became extremely popular in modern hip-hop culture, but the idea of grills is actually very ancient. The Mayans had a similar fashion in which they drilled pieces of fine jade into their teeth.

It’s rare for a modern grill to require any drilling, though there are some examples. Rapper Lil’ Jon is famous not only for his music, but for his unique grill – featuring hundreds of diamond studs surgically implanted into his teeth.

Since they are worn in the mouth, grills are usually made of precious metals. Silver has antibacterial properties that can prevent infections caused from long term wear. Gold is another great choice because it’s easy to mold to the wearer’s teeth and it’s totally inert to the saliva and enzymes in the mouth. There are inexpensive grills made from base metals, but most dentists would recommend against them because they are much more likely to cause irritation and bacterial growth.

Grills are still worn today, but their popularity seemed to peak around the mid-2000s. Have you ever dealt with grills in your line of work? Tell us the story and post on our Facebook wall!

How the Earth Creates Mineable Gold

Gold is a nonrenewable resource, so most people don’t imagine gold deposits returning to an area once it’s all been mined. However, a recent scientific discovery suggests that gold deposits may really be able to replenish themselves over time.

About six miles underground, there are water flows that contain trace amounts of silica and gold. This water fills the voids and offshoots of major fault lines. When an earthquake occurs, the voids in the fault line open up. This sudden and extreme drop in pressure instantaneously vaporizes the water into steam, which blasts upward out of the void and into higher levels of the earth’s crust. Of course, those gold and silica particles go with it to form brand new quartz and gold deposits.

Even small earthquakes are capable of producing this phenomenon. It would explain why major fault lines, like those in Alaska and California, had such vast amounts of gold. However, don’t bother running out to the hills with a pitchfork and gold pan. These underground gold particles are few and far between – about one part per million. Even along highly active fault lines, it could take 100,000 years or more for minable deposits to form.

So yes, gold deposits can replenish themselves. Unfortunately, it won’t happen during our lifetime.


Precious Metals in Jewelry Making Part 5: Palladium’s Rising Popularity

Of all the precious metals we’ve discussed so far, palladium is perhaps the least popular choice for jewelry. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a poor material. Palladium actually has a lot to offer and works as an interesting alternative to platinum.

Palladium had its first taste of popularity in the jewelry world when platinum was declared as a strategic resource by the U.S. government during World War II. Since palladium looked so similar to platinum, it served as a substitute and the demand for palladium wedding bands increased. Today, palladium is mostly used to create white-gold. Even though it’s more expensive than nickel based white-gold alloy, white-gold made with palladium offers a few advantages. Because of palladium’s natural white luster and corrosion resistance, no rhodium plating is required. Also, many people have a skin allergy to nickel, so palladium works as a great alternative when making white-gold rings.

Palladium jewelry looks remarkably similar to platinum jewelry, but there are key differences. For example, palladium has a lower density, so it’s more lightweight than platinum jewelry. That lower density also makes palladium more scratch resistant and easier to polish than platinum jewelry. And although precious metal prices are always changing, palladium generally only costs about half as much as platinum.

Because of its unique features, palladium may eventually become a more popular choice for jewelry shoppers everywhere. The next time you’re shopping for jewelry, or if you’re a jeweler creating a new design, consider whether palladium might be a better choice than the other precious metals.