If you’re new to the world of jewelry, it’s easy to feel lost with all the terms thrown around – gold alloy? Sterling silver? What’s the difference between 24 Karat and 10 Karat gold? In this post, we’ll help you understand the basics of jewelry metal so you can shop confidently.
Types of Gold Jewelry
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- 24 Karats: 100% Gold
- 18 Karats: 75% Gold
- 14 Karats: 58.33% Gold
- 12 Karats: 50% Gold
- 10 Karats: 41.66% Gold
While it sounds ideal to choose only 24 Karat gold, since it’s the purest, there are more factors at play. First of all, 24 Karat gold is (unsurprisingly) expensive. Also, gold is very soft. Mixing it with other, stronger metals will make your jewelry more resistant to scratches. If you want to wear a piece every day without taking it off to do everyday tasks, look for gold that’s been mixed with other metals.
Gold AlloyA metal alloy is the combination of several metals to create a more desirable product. Same as alloy jewelry, we put combine different jewelry metals. All types of gold other than 24K (pure) gold are gold alloys. Gold can be alloyed with different metals to create different colors or different strengths.
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Rose gold is an alloy jewelry. The jewelry metal includes gold, copper, and silver. It’s more affordable than other gold colors because copper is inexpensive. The copper addition also makes rose gold more durable than yellow and white gold, making it a great choice for jewelry.
White gold is a combination of gold and platinum (and sometimes nickel and zinc). White gold is more durable and hardier than yellow gold. It’s also a more affordable jewelry metal than yellow gold and platinum.
Types of Silver Jewelry
Wondering what are the types of silver? Just as gold is usually alloyed with different metals, so is silver. Pure silver (also called Fine .999 Silver) is duller and grayer than the silver you’re used to seeing. Like gold, it’s also soft and prone to scratching, denting, and warping. Because of that, it’s not commonly used as a jewelry metal.
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Other Jewelry Metals
PlatinumPlatinum is rarer and more expensive than gold. But the price is worth it because it’s also more durable and never tarnishes, making it a very valuable jewelry metal. It has a color similar to silver.
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TitaniumAs a very new jewelry metal, titanium has a modern feel. It’s lightweight, durable, and tarnish-resistant, making it a great jewelry metal for everyday jewelry or pieces you want to keep for a long time and wear often. In its natural grey color, it’s a popular jewelry metal for designer jewelry. However, it can also come in different colors.
TungstenTungsten is a popular jewelry metal for men’s jewelry, especially wedding bands. It’s the heaviest and most scratch-resistant jewelry metal. It’s also much less expensive than most other jewelry metals. This jewelry metal also available in several different colors, including gray, black, and rose gold.
Rhodium is the most expensive jewelry metal in the world, and with good reason. It’s extremely durable, non-corrosive, scratch-resistant, and highly reflective, making it both practical and attractive. However, it’s also rare, so you won’t run across jewelry made entirely of rhodium very often. Instead, this jewelry metal is often used as a protective coating on white gold.
Differences Between Jewelry Metals
Gold vs Silver
Gold vs silver is definitely jewelry beginner’s jewelry metal basic. Apparently, jewelry made out of solid gold is much more expensive than sterling silver jewelry. While weighting more than silver, gold is also a lot softer and easier to maintain. You don’t want any collisions towards your gold jewelry, and you want to clean your sterling silver as much as possible due to its chemical features.
Platinum vs Silver
Platinum vs silver, one of the most confusing jewelry metals pairs. To tell the differences with eye, we try to look at the luster of the two jewelry. Platinum tends to have a brighter and shinier lustre, while silver is darker and duller.As the second most expensive jewelry metal beside rhodium, platinum is also known for its chemical features. Platinum jewelry is easy to maintain, which means it never tarnish or change the color, and its hypoallergenic feature makes it the best jewelry metal choice for sensitive skin type. Silver jewelry, on the other hand, tarnished easily and need to choose very wisely to avoid skin allergic.
White Gold vs Silver
White gold is a kind of gold alloy, basically constructed of 75% gold and 25% white metal alloy like nickel, palladium or silver, sometimes even rhodium.
The price of the white gold is right in between platinum and silver, it's not cheap, but still being affordable. Same as silver, white gold sometimes causes allergic. One good way to avoid the situation is to do rhodium plating, making the jewelry hypoallergenic while a lot whiter.
Check our best jewelry cleaning tips if you want to know further cleaning guide on all kinds of jewelry metals.
So, Which Metal is Best for Jewelry?The best jewelry metal for you comes down to several factors.
PriceIf you’re looking for luxury, rhodium, 24 Karat gold, and platinum are the jewelry metal you want to consider. If you’re looking for affordability, look into sterling silver, rose gold, tungsten, or stainless steel.
DurabilityLook for rose or white gold, which are more durable than yellow gold. Platinum, stainless steel, titanium, tungsten, and rhodium are also all suitable jewelry metals for everyday wear thanks to their durability and resistance to tarnishing.
StyleAt the end of the day, what matters is whether you like your jewelry. The most expensive jewelry metal doesn’t always give the look you want. If you love the look of sterling silver or rose gold, don’t let the lower price point deter you. Consider your style, and pick the jewelry metal wisely.
If you’re stumped, start by figuring out what colors of metal look best with your skin tone. People with cool-toned skin look best in jewelry metals like white gold, platinum, and silver. People with warm-toned skin look best in yellow gold, copper, and brass jewelry. If your skin is neutral-toned, you’ll be able to wear either. Some jewelry metals, like rose gold, flatter everyone. Hold different-colored metals against your skin and see which ones pop. Start there.
Shopping for jewelry doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. Now you are a jewelry metal master. Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to confidently browse any jeweler, knowing what to look for.