Rare, versatile and highly desirable, gold makes beautiful jewelry of all kinds. Gold is the world’s most popular precious metal and is naturally yellow in color. Popular for its rarity and luster, gold is the most easily worked of all metals and ranges in softness based on its purity. Generally, pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry, so it’s commonly mixed with allowing metals such as copper and zinc. All gold will scratch over time, but can easily be refurbished and/or rhodium plated when needed.
To determine the karat gold used in a piece of jewelry, check its markings, also called its hallmark. This is usually found on the inside of the shank or the riverside side of a pendant, earring or bracelet. The traditional hallmark uses the gold purity percentage. Modern hallmarks are simply stamped with the karat weight.
The color of gold is determined by two factors, the type of metal alloys included and the percentage of each metal alloy.
- Yellow Gold: pure gold mixed with a little silver and copper for a warm look
- White Gold: pure gold is combined with palladium and silver or with nickel, copper and zinc. Rhodium plating improves whiteness and durability.
White gold is the sturdiest of the colored golds, which is why it’s frequently used in prongs in diamond settings.
- Rose Gold: pure gold plus copper. The more copper, the redder the metal.
- Green Gold: yellowish green in appearance, pure gold plus silver
Platinum is a silvery, white metal with a soft hue that’s extremely rare and considered more precious than gold. It is much heavier than gold as well, and does not tarnish or oxidize. Because of its hardness, the details on intricately engraved or embellished rings look sharper and more precise when done in platinum.
As with other metals, platinum is commonly mixed with other metals when used in jewelry pieces. However, for a piece of jewelry to be labeled as Platinum, it must meet a minimum level of purity. Platinum in jewelry is 90% to 95% pure, which rings out the beauty of diamonds set in platinum engagement rings. Normally, platinum pieces can be identified by a stamp with PLAT.
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. Sterling silver can range from bright white to grayish white, and can have a matte or shiny finish. It is usually combined with other metals such as copper to boost its strength. Sterling Silver must contain at least 92.5% pure silver, which is why it’s stamped by .925
Stainless Steel: Shiny and strong, stainless steel rings can be polished to take on many different looks, from matte to chrome.
Titanium: Titanium is a natural element with black, silver, grey or white in color. It is the hardest natural metal in the world. Though it is light weight, titanium is the strongest and most scratch resistant metals available for wedding rings, but cannot be resized once made.
Tungsten Carbide: a steel gray, white or black metal whose strength and high melting point makes Tungsten a favorite in the arms industry. It is harder than gold allows and is hypo allergenic. It is the most popular alternative metal for men’s wedding bands, and cannot be resized.
Palladium: One of the rarest metals in the world, Palladium is a member of the platinum group metals. These metals area ls referred to as noble metals due to their superior ability to withstand corrosion and oxidation.
Cobalt: Made from a highly durable alloy, cobalt is 4x harder than platinum, but is less dense. Cobalt allow is a bright white metal, giving it the appearance of platinum. Because of its natural hardness, cobalt jewelry is extremely scratch, chip and corrosion resistant. It is also hypoallergenic, making it an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin.
Tantalum: This is the newest addition to contemporary metals, and is highly scratch resistant and hypo allergic. Naturally a blue-grey metal, tantalum is 99% pure and coated with a ceramic glaze that gives the metal a matte black finish.
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