Deciding which precious metal is right for you is more than just a color preference. Different metals have different properties and characteristics. You need to take into account your lifestyle, your budget, and any possible sensitivity issues when you choose the metal that will make up the heart of your jewelry. To find out what type of metal is right for you and your lifestyle, speak with one of the Glitters Girls.
Gold is an extremely popular choice for fine jewelry, but there are many different types from which to choose. “Pure” gold – gold not mixed with other metals to increase its hardness – is called 24 karat (24K) gold.
The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other (alloy) metals. For example, 14 karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed with 10 parts of an alloy metal. To make white gold, yellow gold is plated with a silvery white alloy such as nickel or rhodium. If not re-plated, white gold can lose its silvery appearance. Rose gold, which has seen a recent surge in popularity, is created by mixing yellow gold with silver and copper
Platinum has been gaining in popularity, especially for engagement and bridal rings. Platinum is naturally white, more durable, and heavier than gold; but it is at the top of the price range for precious metals. Like gold, platinum is mixed with other metals. However, the quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking “900 Platinum” means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum; in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum — Plat. or Pt. — also can be used in marking jewelry.
Palladium, like platinum, is a naturally white and very durable precious metal. Its history in the jewelry industry dates back to 1939, when designers discovered its beauty and strength. Palladium is from the same family of precious metals as platinum and shares its strength, but it is lighter in weight. Those allergic to some other metals appreciate palladium’s purity – unlike gold, it does not have to be mixed with nickel (which can cause allergic reactions) to appear white.
Silver remains the most popular choice for low-cost fine jewelry. “Silver” or “sterling silver” describes a product that contains 92.5% silver – marked accordingly with the numbers “925.” When an item is referred to as “silver plated,” it features a layer of silver bonded to a base metal. The designation of “coin silver” is used for compounds that are 90% silver.