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Metals, Metals, and More Metals | Metal Choices for Fine Jewelry

Jewelry metals are an easily overlooked category of jewelry shopping especially when there is sparkle involved. It can be a surprise to many that there is more thought that should go into your metal choice for your jewelry other than what color you prefer, although that is also an important piece of the puzzle. Below you will find an outline of the top three metals most commonly used in jewelry design as well as some benefits and drawbacks to each type. It is important to remember that although these metals are all capable of being worn regularly, there are factors that might make a certain metal choice the best for you. If you struggle with this choice, let us help by visiting us today!

Silver

A white tone metal with a gleaming white hue. Pure silver, like gold, is too soft to be used for jewelry so it too is often mixed with other metals (alloys) creating: sterling silver metal, which is most commonly used in jewelry.

Pros

  • Complements any colored gemstone because it is neutral in color.
  • When polished it is one of the brightest metals on Earth.
  • Most affordable of the 3 main metals.
  • Can be polished back to its original state after tarnishing.
  • Not high in value.

Cons

  • Will tarnish over time.
  • A softer metal choice and can be more prone to scratches than other metals.
  • Generally not strong enough for everyday wear when holding diamonds or other precious gemstones, most effective in decorative or fashion pieces.

Gold

Gold is the most involved jewelry metal option when choosing or designing a piece of Jewelry. It comes in a variety of colors such as white, yellow and rose. There is also karatage to be considered as well such as 14k, 18k, and 24k. To simplify, the Karat amount is a sign of how “pure” the metal is, with 24k being 100% gold (24k should be noted as being too soft to be regularly worn as a piece of jewelry). Mixing other metals into gold (Alloys) increases the strength of the metal and therefore makes gold strong enough to be used for jewelry. On top of increasing the strength of the metal it also increases the hardness, and since there is less “pure gold” this also reduces the cost. Alloys are what cause yellow gold to transform into white or rose gold as well.

Typically in the US we use 14k gold because the percentage of gold to alloy makes the strength and hardness more ideal for everyday wear than a higher karat. All gold jewelry will have a marking of its karatage, so now if you see the marking you will know what it means!

Pros

  • Durable, lengthening its lifespan
  • Resists corrosion.
  • Will not tarnish.
  • Comes in multiple colors (White, Yellow, or Rose)
  • Has been used to create jewelry for hundreds/thousands of years

Cons

  • More expensive than silver.
  • If your diamond is colorless, having a yellow gold setting can make the diamond appear more yellow, on the other hand if your diamond is warmer in color a yellow gold setting can help the diamond appear more white.

Platinum

This is one of the most popular white jewelry metals used, with more of a gray-white hue than a sparkling white color.

Pros

  • Resists corrosion.
  • Complements any color stone because of its neutrality in color.
  • Can patina over time – becoming softer, richer, and more subtle in appearance
  • Has a greater density than other metals
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Has more malleability which means it tends to bend before cracking unlike white gold

Cons

  • Most expensive metal.
  • Prone to small scratches.
  • Quite malleable, meaning if you badly hit your hand on the corner of the fridge, a door handle, or lift weights with a ring on it will likely bend.

Final Comments

At face value, jewelry metals might not seem like the most exciting topic but they play an extremely important role in jewelry design. Metals can add to the overall appeal and aesthetic to each jewelry piece. No matter which metal you choose, over time every metal will benefit from a buff or polish to keep the piece looking new. There is no real wrong answer when choosing a metal for your jewelry, it comes down to what works for you practically and your personal aesthetic!

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