Know Your Metals

Metals

Choosing the right metal for your fine jewelry goes beyond 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. We work in gold, platinum, palladium, sterling silver and stainless steel. To find out what type of metal is right for you, speak with one of our experts.

Gold

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. White gold is made by adding nickel or palladium to gold, and then routinely plated with rhodium to give it a crisp white color.

Platinum

Platinum has been popular in jewelry for the last 100 years, 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

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.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel jewelry is made of a steel alloy that contains chromium. It’s an extremely durable and affordable metal which doesn’t corrode or rust. However, it can still be scratched or stained. See the jewelry care section of this website for tips on how to care for stainless steel jewelry.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum fineness of 925.

Fine silver, for example 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intention of improving various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish.

Rhodium

Rhodium is a noble metal, resistant to corrosion, found in platinum or nickel ores together with the other members of the platinum group metals.   White gold is often plated with a thin rhodium layer to improve its appearance while sterling silver is often rhodium-plated for tarnish resistance.