Jewelry Metals Buying Guide
Could you tell platinum from white gold by looking at it? What are the pros and cons of sterling silver vs. white gold? How do you style yellow gold?
In the past, different kinds of metals were popular during specific years. In the beginning of hip-hop jewelry, yellow gold was all the rage. In the 90s, it was platinum. Today, all of the precious metals are in style.
Because there are so many, choosing a metal and knowing how to style it can be complicated. Different metals offer different characteristics and durability. It all comes down to your personal style: what colors you wear, whether you prefer contrast or subtlety, and what other pieces of jewelry you own.
Whatever your style, we have the perfect high-quality metals for you to choose from. Let’s take a look at the different metals we offer; hopefully, our guide will help you decide which metal is best for you.
When deciding on buying gold, there are two things to consider: how many karats, and which color of gold you want. Different karats and colors of gold have different properties. Let’s take a look at a list of gold options and how they compare.
The number of karats tells you what percentage of gold the metal is made of. For example, 24 karats is pure gold. 18 karats mean that the jewelry is 18/24 pure gold: or 75% pure gold and 25% metal alloy. Because pure gold is soft, 24 karat gold is softer than those with a greater percentage of alloy metals. 24K gold is often too soft to hold its shape.
Durability and Maintenance
In terms of maintaining a new appearance over the years, 18K gold generally holds up to everyday wear better than 10K gold. While the greater percentage of alloy metals in 10K gold gives it more strength, it’s not as resistant to things like sweat and skin oils.
This is one of the reasons why 18K is one of the jewelry metals preferred for sentimental jewelry like engagement rings.
18K is one of the best metals for jewelry, if it’s solid gold rather than gold-plated. However, 18K is more expensive than 14K and 10K, so many opt for 10K gold, even though it requires more upkeep and polishing.
Gold is a hypoallergenic metal, so it’s a great choice for sensitive skin. If you have strong metal allergies, you’ll want to opt for gold in higher karats because of the greater percentage of pure gold. 10K gold, for example, might contain copper in its alloy, which could cause irritation if you’re allergic to copper.
Now let’s look at the three main colors gold comes in: yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. These are all made of pure gold, but use different metals in their alloys to bring out different colors. The different alloys of gold give the colors different characteristics.
Yellow gold is the most classic color of gold. Pure gold has entranced people for centuries, but it’s too malleable to use in many pieces of jewelry. Yellow gold uses silver and copper metals in its alloy to maintain the color of pure gold.
Yellow gold is usually made by mixing pure gold with metals like silver, zinc, and copper. If you have strong allergies, opt for high karats of yellow gold.
The most modern gold color, rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with copper, and sometimes silver metals. The copper color combines with the pure gold color to provide the rose-reddish color.
Different amounts of copper will give it different shades of color, so 10K rose gold may appear more coppery than rose-colored. 14K rose gold and 18K rose gold are the most popular karats for this jewelry metal because they represent the color best.
White gold uses brighter white metals such as silver and palladium to give it an appearance similar to platinum. White gold overtook yellow gold as the most popular metal for engagement rings in the 2010s.
White gold is initially slightly yellow due to the pure gold’s color peeking through. To achieve the sleek platinum look, white gold is often rhodium-plated. Rhodium is resistant to rust, tarnish, and corrosion, and it’s also safe for sensitive skin.
White gold achieves the look of platinum while being a bit more affordable. If it starts to turn yellow you’ll need to take it to a jeweler to re-coat it in rhodium, a relatively inexpensive yet important process.
Platinum first gained popularity with rappers and other musicians and celebrities in the 1990s. Platinum is a valuable precious metal that maintains its color for a lifetime, making it easy to maintain. One of the most durable of metals used in jewelry, platinum is a really popular choice for men’s wedding bands.
Platinum’s competitor, white gold, achieves the look of platinum, but not the same properties. Though platinum is more expensive, it doesn’t require to be re-plated in rhodium to maintain its color. The color of platinum is ultimately whiter than white gold, though only a highly-trained eye can make out the difference by looking at it.
If platinum is scratched, It will not lose any metal and it does not wear away over time. Platinum does not expand or distort when exposed to heat, and it never tarnishes. Instead, it ages beautifully by developing a lustrous patina, which adds depth to the design.
Platinum is also hypoallergenic. Because it contains mainly pure platinum and minimal alloys, it’s a good alternative for those with allergies to silver or gold.
The majority of our platinum jewelry is 95 percent pure platinum combined with 5 percent of other alloys. For guaranteed quality in platinum make sure you look for a 950 plat, plat, pt, or platinum stamp. This will ensure you are getting the highest quality platinum. Being a very dense metal and heavier than most metals, it is commonly used as a secure diamond setting.
Silver is a white-grey colored metal that is the most affordable of precious metals used for jewelry. Silver is a softer metal than gold, titanium and platinum, so it must be mixed with an alloy.
Sterling silver is 92.5% pure gold with 7.5% metal alloy such as zinc or copper, which makes it more durable. This is a popular metal for use in jewelry such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, and rings. It has seen significant demand for diamond jewelry in recent years. True sterling silver will have a 925 sterling silver stamp, so that stamp is something to look for when picking out the sterling silver piece that speaks to you.
Due to the rising costs of gold, silver has definitely become a contender in the diamond jewelry market. This demand has inspired jewelry manufacturers to increase selection and quality tenfold, making it a more than viable option to gold.
Unfortunately, silver is also more prone to oxidation. Oxidation can cause the silver to turn black. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Oxidation is a process that some companies use to age their jewelry...it gives it an antique look. If you do like the antique look, check out our antique diamond engagement rings!
If your silver jewelry does oxidize, and you don’t like the aged look of it, you can easily make it look new again by using a silver jewelry cleaner or tarnish remover. Silver jewelry cleaners can typically be found at most jewelry stores. You can also make your own silver jewelry cleaning solution, or take it to a jeweler to have it cleaned.
How to Choose a Metal For Jewelry
When choosing from the types of jewelry metals, you’ll want to look at certain categories to guide your choice. These are some tips to keep in mind when deciding what to choose:
- Price: You want to choose a metal that suits your style and fits your budget. If you like silver metals, sterling silver is the cheapest, followed by white gold, then platinum. For yellow metals, 10K yellow gold is going to be cheaper than 18K. In the long run, you’ll save more money by avoiding silver and gold-plated jewelry, because it doesn’t last as long.
- Durability: What kinds of activities do you do while wearing jewelry? If you plan on wearing it daily, it’s a good idea to invest in some of the more durable metals. 18K gold will withstand the elements better than 10K. Sterling silver may bend with force, but you could take it in to repair it easily.
- Hypoallergenic Properties: Anything above 18K gold is a good choice, as well as platinum and rhodium-plated gold. If your metal allergies aren’t severe, you have more options, such as sterling silver, white gold, and rose gold.
- Strength: If you work a lot with your hands, you’ll want to get a stronger metal for rings, like gold or platinum than sterling silver. If you’re buying earrings, you don’t really need something that’s super durable.
- Design and Color: This is where you can really personalize your choice. From a style perspective, someone who wears a lot of Earth tone colors may be better suited to pair gold accessories with their attire. A personal style of one who tends to gravitate more towards the variations of black, white, and gray, may benefit more from wearing platinum and silver. If you want to be ultramodern and stand out, rose gold is great for making that statement.
At the end of the day, you want the best quality for the price, for any choice of metals used for jewelry. Whatever your personal style may be, ItsHot offers consistent, reliable quality.