CONTACT US: 952.926.2455

Metals

Jewelry Metals

There are many factors to consider in deciding which metal is right for you, including price, durability, appearance, weight and whether it’s hypoallergenic and/or scratch resistant. Scheherazade’s experienced sales staff can help you to compare and contrast these different metals to help inform your decision – in the meantime, we have provided an overview of standard metals used in jewelry.

Gold has historically been the most popular metal choice for fashion rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets.

There are two factors to consider when looking at gold.

  1. Color (yellow or white).
  2. Karat (percentage of pure gold i.e.: 10K, 14K, 18K)

Gold Karat/Purity

The karat in gold measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloys. Pure gold is too soft to be used at 100% concentration in jewelry, so different alloys (metals like copper, silver, zinc, palladium and nickel) are added that affect overall color and sometimes hardness.

The karat of gold is represented in the USA by the abbreviation K or Kt. Other countries might use Ct.

The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be.

  • 10K gold contains 41.7% pure gold (417 parts per thousand)
  • 14K gold contains 58.5% pure gold (585 parts per thousand)
  • 18K gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand)

Gold Stamps

Jewelry is normally stamped with a marking to show the type of gold.

  • For 10K gold: 416 or 417, 10kt, or 10K
  • For 14K: 585, 14kt or 14K
  • For 18K gold: 750, 18kt or 18K

The stamps only indicate the karat of metal. They do not indicate the color of the metal. For example, an 18K yellow gold ring and an 18K white gold ring would both have a 750 stamp.

10K, 14K and 18K gold are each relatively hard and durable metals and are suitable for use in all types of fine jewelry. Gold is also suitable to be used in jewelry that is worn on an everyday basis.

Gold Colors

Gold is available in several different colors, including yellow, white, pink/rose and a range of reddish and greenish hues. Jewelry can be made using a combination of different gold colors. These jewelry items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-colored gold.

The difference in color between yellow, white and rose gold is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. As the color difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the color will not fade or decrease with age.

Another factor influencing gold color is Karat. 18K yellow & rose gold have a deeper, richer color than 14K or 10K. This does not apply to white gold.

When white gold rings are new, they are generally plated with another white metal called Rhodium, which belongs to the platinum family. The rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look whiter. The rhodium is very white and hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best, it should be re-rhodium plated approximately each 6 to 18 months.

When comparing the price of the gold colors in the same karat, white gold is normally a little more expensive than yellow or rose gold. Yellow gold and rose gold normally have approximately the same price.

In practical terms, 14K and 18K hold up to everyday wear better than 10K. They also tend to look better than 10K as it ages over the years. This is one of the reasons why when selecting gold for an engagement ring most people will opt for 14K or 18K.

When deciding what Karat of gold is the best fit for you, consider:

  1. Performance (everyday wear)
  2. Color
  3. Price

Platinum is a white metal that comes directly from the earth. Unlike white gold, which needs to be alloyed with other white metals to mask its yellow color, platinum is manufactured into jewelry that is 90% or 95% pure. Platinum is extremely durable and is naturally very white, so it does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold does.

Platinum is a very heavy and dense metal, so a platinum ring will feel much heavier than an 18kt gold ring in a similar style/setting.

Platinum can be more expensive than gold, depending on market fluctuations. With all other things being the same, a platinum ring can be significantly more expensive than an 18K white gold ring. This is because of three factors. Platinum is much denser, so, in turn, the platinum ring will weigh about 25% more then 18K. The cost of platinum is over double the cost of gold and platinum is 15% to 20% more pure in metal content then 18K gold.

Platinum Purity & Alloys

  • 950 platinum contains 95% pure platinum (950 parts per thousand parts).
  • 900 platinum contains 95% pure platinum (900 parts per thousand parts).

Alloys used with platinum are Iridium, Cobalt, Palladium, Tungsten and Ruthenium.

Platinum Stamps

Jewelry is normally stamped with a marking to show the type of platinum.

  • For 950 Platinum: 950, Platinum, Pt or Plat.
  • For 900 Platinum: 900, Platinum, Pt or Plat.

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum is not normally used in the full range of jewelry products due to weight of the metal and relatively higher price. It is mainly used in ladies engagement rings, ladies wedding rings and men’s wedding rings.

Platinum can also be used to make fashion or colored stone rings, though it is not commonly used to make earrings, pendants, bracelets or necklaces, mostly because the weight of the metal becomes unwieldy.

Sterling silver is a white-grey colored metal, which is less expensive than gold, platinum and titanium. Silver is a softer metal than gold, titanium, and platinum, and does not have hardness of the other metals.

Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure silver and is usually stamped as 925.

Silver is a popular metal for use in jewelry such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and fashion rings. It is best used for jewelry that will not be worn every day for an extended period. For that reason it is usually not recommend to be chosen for ladies and men’s wedding rings, and is not suitable for ladies engagement rings.

Silver is also more prone to oxidization, sometimes causing the silver to turn black. Silver jewelry can easily be made to look like new again if you use a silver jewelry cleaner (available from most department or hardware stores) or if you have your jewelry cleaned by Scheherazade Jewelers.

Palladium is a very white metal that belongs to the Platinum family. Palladium alloys developed for jewelry typically contain 95% palladium and about 5% ruthenium and have trace amounts of other metals proprietary to their developers. These 950 palladium alloys are white, noble, malleable, lightweight, hypoallergenic, and are easy to finish and polish. Furthermore, they do not require rhodium plating, and have desirable, platinum-like setting and forming characteristics. 950 palladium will stay white, never requiring the “renewed whitening” via rhodium plating white gold does.

Palladium Vs. Other Jewelry Metals

Alone or alloyed with silver or gold, palladium offers some of the same properties as other jewelry metals, and remains tarnish free. It is more precious than silver and whiter and less expensive than platinum. Because it is also lighter than platinum (nearly half the weight), more intricate necklaces and bracelets can be made with palladium. These pieces are capable of bearing larger gemstones with no gain in overall weight. For the same reason, Palladium can be an especially good choice for earrings. With the price of platinum and gold reaching all-time highs, use of palladium for jewelry has seen renewed interest domestically and abroad.

Palladium Used With White Gold

Alloying Palladium with white gold avoids allergic reactions such as skin rashes, dermatitis, and eczema that may otherwise result from wearing white gold jewelry made with nickel. A white gold alloy content is typically 75 percent gold and 15 percent palladium for an 18K gold piece of jewelry.

Due to its white color and attractive price point, palladium is gaining popularity in men’s wedding bands, as well as ladies engagement rings and wedding bands.