When shopping for jewelry, the metal used in the piece is an important element of the design. The metal you choose will ultimately depend on your style (or the style of the recipient of the jewelry). However, knowing a little about each type of metal may help you choose which is best for your piece. Read below to learn more about the four most common types of metal used in jewelry.
Gold is one of the most popular metal choices for jewelry, and has been for centuries. Gold is a top choice for jewelry because it is malleable, meaning it is easy to work into different shapes. Today, most gold is an alloy, meaning it is mixed with other metals to give it added strength. The purity of gold is indicated by its karat. 24K gold is 100% pure gold, but more commonly, gold jewelry is either 18K (75% pure), 14K (58.3% pure), or 10K (41.7% pure).
There are three common color variations of gold:
- Yellow Gold – Gold is naturally yellow in color, but it is commonly alloyed with silver or copper to add strength
- White Gold – White gold gets its color from combining it with whiter metals such as palladium and silver. White gold is also coated with Rhodium, which adds shine and strength. Typically, white gold jewelry will need to have the Rhodium plating re-applied, since it will fade away with regular wear and tear.
- Rose Gold – Rose gold jewelry is created by mixing higher amounts of copper with pure gold, which creates the rose colored tint. The more copper added, the rosier the gold will appear.
Silver is another popular choice for jewelry. Today most silver jewelry is actually sterling silver, since pure silver is very soft and easily damaged. Sterling silver is at least 92.5% pure silver, and is typically mixed with copper to add strength. Although sterling silver is an alloy it will still tarnish like pure silver, so it is best to clean it regularly with special silver cleaner and store it in it’s own cloth pouch when not being worn.
Platinum has regained popularity in recent years as a top choice for jewelry. It is a bright white metal that is both shiny and very durable, meaning it will last for years to come – and as an added bonus platinum does not tarnish or oxidize! Platinum is 40 times more rare than gold, which means it is also more expensive. However, like gold and silver, platinum jewelry is also an alloy meaning it is mixed with other metals, but all platinum jewelry is at least 90% pure platinum.
Known for its strength and durability, titanium is a popular choice for men’s wedding rings and other jewelry that is worn every day. Titanium is silver-white in color, and is extremely lightweight but also durable – it won’t tarnish or corrode over time. You may be familiar with titanium from its many uses outside of jewelry design, since it is used in things from armor design to aircraft parts!
While these are not the only metals used in jewelry making, they are the most common. If you have questions about the right type of metal for your next piece of jewelry, stop in to The Village Jeweler, where our expert staff can guide you in your selection!