If you are looking to buy your next statement piece of gold or silver jewelry, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all of the different types of metalware available to you. Not all jewelry is exclusively gold or silver, and even these two metals come in various forms. This variety of metals can be confusing to the average jewelry wearer. Today we will help you learn more about your metals, so you can pick the perfect jewelry that complements your taste and style.
Gold jewelry is always gold combined with other metals that create different colours and have several features.
When you see jewelry with the classic pure golden colour, it's often yellow gold. Yellow gold is pure gold mixed with silver, copper, and zinc. Of all gold alloys, yellow gold is least likely to cause an allergic reaction amongst wearers. It also requires less maintenance.
This silvery-white alloy is a popular choice for engagement rings. It is usually made of gold and platinum, but can also be combined with palladium, nickel, and zinc. It was first created to mimic platinum.
This alloy has become increasingly popular in recent years, possibly because it is more affordable than its golden siblings. Rose gold mixes gold with inexpensive copper, which also accounts for its signature hue.
Gold-plated jewelry is base metal covered in a thin layer of gold, usually only 0.05% actual gold or less. The majority of the piece will be brass or copper.
Because pure silver is too soft and delicate to make up jewelry, it has to be mixed with other metals to make it more durable. This has resulted in many types of jewelry with varying amounts of real silver.
This is the most common type of silver used in the jewelry market. It is an alloy made up of usually 92.5% silver, with the remaining 7.5% usually being copper or nickel, which makes the silver stronger and more lustrous.
Jewelry with silver plating is made with base metal and a thin layer of silver over the top. It is very affordable as it contains a minimal amount of real silver, making it easily tarnishable and prone to wear.
This is the highest grade of silver used for jewelry, and has a purity of 99.9%, with the remaining 0.1% composed of trace elements. Despite being the closest to pure silver, it is rarely used for jewelry. This is because it can be easily scratched and dented. It also lacks the polished shine of sterling.
Nickel silver is unique on this list as it contains no silver at all. The name only refers to the color of the metal. It is usually made of majority copper and nickel or zinc, and used for costume jewelry.
This is a type of non-tarnish alloy, and it comes in two grades: 96% and 93.2% purity. The remaining percentage is made of copper and germanium. Argentium is rarer and more expensive than sterling and requires less maintenance.
This high-density metal is a popular choice for wedding rings, particularly for the groom. Tungsten has a similar weight to gold and is extremely durable and near impossible to scratch or dent. It is usually a composite of tungsten, carbon, cobalt, and nickel.
Usually composed of titanium and steel or nickel, this alloy is durable, easy to maintain, and hypoallergenic. It is a very lustrous material and reflects the light well, which could explain its growing popularity.
Platinum is the rarest and most expensive metal type on this list. It also happens to be one of the strongest metals used in jewelry. You are unlikely to find 100% platinum jewelry, as it is commonly created via the use of other supplementary metals such as copper, ruthenium, iridium, rhodium, palladium, and cobalt.
This list is not exhaustive, as metals are produced and presented in countless different ways in the jewelry market. However, it is a solid start and should help you better understand the basic materials that make up the jewelry you buy and wear every day.
If any of these options stand out to you, it might be worth considering a piece of custom jewelry in the metal of your choice. Get in touch with Janine de Dorigny’s skilled and certified jewelers by calling us at (416) 459-2515 to book a consultation. You can also fill out our contact form here.