What are Precious Metals?

When shopping for jewellery you probably already have your heart set on a specific design or style but might feel a bit lost when deciding the metal, especially the different choices within the metal categories. It can be overwhelming deciphering the physical properties of each option, let alone trying to work out why there is such a difference in price. 

The goal of this post is to help educate you on choosing the most appropriate metal for your jewellery. When reading, please keep in mind your colour preference, lifestyle, and budget.

GOLD

Gold is one of the oldest and most popular metals for jewellery. It offers the widest variety when it comes to colour and levels of purity. Gold purity is measured in karats. The 14k and 18k numbers refer to how many parts per 24 are pure gold.

14 karat (14K) is 14/24 karats = 58.5% gold
18 karat (18K) is 18/24 karats = 75% gold
24 karat (24K) is 24/24 karats = 100% pure gold
 

Although 24k (pure) gold might sound the most luxurious and best, it’s actually very soft and can’t withstand wear and tear of day-to-day life. To strengthen it, it’s mixed with other metals such as copper, silver, and zinc to create an alloy.

Alloys with a higher gold content for example 18K will be much closer to the natural pure gold yellow hue.

ROSE GOLD

Rose gold uses the same content/ karats as explained above. Their rosy colour is a result of being mixed with a larger proportion of copper than silver and zinc. Higher karat rose gold alloys will appear more peach since they contain more gold. Lower karat rose gold alloys have a larger dose of copper and will appear more pink.

 WHITE GOLD

When looking at white gold options, you need to consider allergies, colour preference and maintenance.

NICKEL WHITE GOLD

Similar to rose gold, the colour of white gold is directly affected by the other metals it’s mixed with. Traditionally in white gold alloys, nickel is used as a bleaching agent to remove the yellow colour from the gold. Nickel is extremely strong but can often cause an allergic reaction.  

This alloy still appears slightly yellow so is often rhodium plated. Most commercial white gold jewellery has a layer of rhodium plating. Whilst on the surface this gives the metal a bright white colour, it eventually wears off. It’s possible to have the rhodium reapplied but the ongoing maintenance can be annoying and costly over time. 

PALLADIUM WHITE GOLD

Palladium white gold alloys are a warm greyish/ white. The palladium removes the yellow colour from the gold and is mixed with silver and copper. Using palladium instead of nickel means the jewellery is hypoallergenic, which could be a key factor for you. It’s possible to add rhodium plating for a bright white finish but many people love the colour of the palladium as is.

PALLADIUM

Palladium is a greyish/ white metal that’s just slightly darker than platinum. It’s rarer than gold and is typically used at 95% purity. It’s a great option for jewellery as it’s malleable yet still strong enough to resist scratches. Since the natural white colour, there’s no need for additional plating therefore it’s very low maintenance. It’s also hypoallergenic. 

In recent years the price of palladium has increased dramatically. It used to be an affordable alternative to 14K gold but is now at a similar price to platinum. Its purity, hypoallergenic quality, and low maintenance are the main reasons for choosing this alloy over white gold.

PLATINUM 

Platinum is similar to palladium. It’s naturally grey/ white, rare, hypoallergenic and doesn’t require rhodium plating. It’s got all the great qualities of palladium except it’s slightly denser, which makes it great for setting large stones. One of the most amazing qualities of platinum is its durability. Instead of losing metal when scratched, the surface is merely displaced, slowly creating a rich matte finish that can be easily polished or re-textured.

Platinum is an heirloom-quality metal meaning it’s a great option for creating custom pieces that will last for generations. Obviously, this comes with a high price tag!  

Hopefully this post has cleared up your questions about precious metals and now you can shop with confidence knowing you’re selecting the right metal for you. 

 

Any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!


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