Metal Guide

Metal Guide

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        

Whatever the occasion or event, there is nothing more precious than a gift of jewellery to express to that special someone exactly how you feel. With so many precious metals to choose from. The following metal buyer's guide will explore the different beneficial properties of each metal, helping you to make the best choice. You will also discover useful aftercare guidance on how to care for different precious metals with confidence, so that your jewellery stays looking as beautiful as when you first bought it.

If your partner's jewellery collection consists of mostly yellow metals it may be wise to choose a traditional yellow gold engagement ring as it will be a ring that they will treasure and wear all the time. If your partner's collection consists of white metals you may want to choose an engagement ring in a precious metal such as white gold, platinum or palladium. A rose gold engagement ring offers a chic and contemporary look. Remember that your wedding band should be the same metal as your engagement ring to avoid the metal wearing or scratching. Fine jewellery is typically crafted from either gold or platinum. But what are the differences between these two precious metals, and which is the right choice for you? On the one hand, gold is the 'original' precious metal of choice, whose beauty and value has been coveted for thousands of years. On the other, platinum is even rarer and more valuable than gold, and has gained a certain caché as the most luxurious of the precious metals in more recent years.


Colour differences

Perhaps the most obvious starting point when considering the differences between gold and platinum is their colour.

Gold

Gold has been an important precious metal since as early as 560BC and has been used throughout history as jewellery for religious ceremonies such as weddings, to declare status or purely for decoration. It is a popular and versatile choice because it is both ductile and malleable, meaning it can easily be crafted into different shapes. Most gold jewellery is mixed with other alloy metals such as silver, copper, nickel and zinc to strengthen its durability.Gold is measured in carats and divided into 24 parts. Pure gold (Au) is measured as 24ct gold.

18 ct gold is 18/24 parts by mass or 75 per cent gold making it ideal for everyday use. It is also the preferred choice for ladies' engagement rings. 9ct gold is 9/24 parts gold by mass or 37.5 per cent gold and this enables it to be more affordable gold choice.

9ct and 18ct gold jewellery particularly in yellow, white and rose gold are the most popular gold choices. As with all precious metals gold jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity. 

Yellow gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct

This is gold's most traditional hue and provides a versatile base for a variety of jewellery designs and array of gemstones. Gold is always naturally beautiful yellow colour. However, because of the different carats available there are subtle colour variations. 9ct, 14ct and 18ct are still yellow but the final colour can be influenced by varying the mixture of other metals being added. Yellow gold is the ideal precious metal for traditional engagement rings, wedding rings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings.

White gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct

White Gold has been fashionable since the early 1920s and has since become one of the most sought after gold colours used in the UK. To create white gold, yellow gold is mixed with copper, zinc, nickel or palladium, giving it a bright clean look, which is often favoured for use in bracelets, necklaces, rings and pendants. If you're thinking of buying vintage inspired jewellery, white gold is perhaps the perfect metal to complement sparkling gemstones, especially diamonds.

Gold is naturally yellow, though it is often alloyed (mixed with other metals) to form white gold or rose gold. Platinum on the other hand is a naturally grayish-white metal. One of the most common dilemmas faced by a client choosing a ring is whether to go with white gold or platinum. If you find yourself in that position, there are a few useful facts to bear in mind.

Rose gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ctGold is naturally yellow, though it is often alloyed (mixed with other metals) to form white gold or rose gold. Platinum on the other hand is a naturally grayish-white metal. One of the most common dilemmas faced by a client choosing a ring is whether to go with white gold or platinum. If you find yourself in that position, there are a few useful facts to bear in mind.

 

Rose Gold 9ct,14ct,18ct

With the help of rising fashion trends in watches and jewellery, rose gold is fast becoming a popular precious metal for watches, earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets. Because of its warm pink shades, this alternative to white or yellow gold is becoming a contemporary metal of choice for engagement rings. It is created by combining yellow gold with a copper alloy and has the same properties as yellow gold.

Two-colour gold

                                                                                                                                                                                               Gold comes in three main colours, yellow, white and rose. You are likely to come across jewellery at Ernest Jones that may feature two of these colours which will be referred to as two-colour gold or two toned gold, ideal for earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and rings, two-colour gold can be used to symbolise the love between two people and so it is perfect for wedding jewellery and rings. It is also a good option for eternity and anniversary rings.

 

Three-colour gold

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        Three-colour gold jewellery is the combination of yellow, white and rose gold in one piece of jewellery. This combination of three colours offers eye catching design possibilities and allows you to accessorise with confidence. A jewellery classic that uses three-colour gold is the Russian wedding ring. In its simplest form it combines yellow, rose and white gold to symbolise your past, present and future together.

 Platinum

Platinum is a versatile and durable precious metal with a naturally white colour. Its dense quality makes it the perfect accompaniment to any gemstone, including diamonds. Because of its strength, platinum is a particularly popular choice for a variety of jewellery including engagement rings, wedding rings, necklaces, earrings and rings. Because of its 95 per cent purity, platinum does not oxidise in the air at any temperature which means its colour remains consistent and does not tarnish. As with all precious metals, platinum jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity. Platinum in its unpolished state is actually a pale grey colour, but when it’s highly polished becomes so reflective that it takes on a bright white appearance. In contrast, white gold is a slightly off-white colour, retaining a hint of yellow even when polished, unless it is rhodium-plated (which most white gold is), in which case it takes on an even brighter white than platinum.

Sterling silver

Sterling silver is a fresh and contemporary precious metal found in mines around Australia, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. Mixed with other metals to increase its strength, it is perfect for making bigger statement jewellery and has been used throughout history for necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and brooches. Sterling silver goes perfectly with diamonds and other precious gemstones. As with all precious metals, sterling silver jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.

Cobalt

Cobalt is naturally a white alloy which is often used for men's rings as it is durable and fairly scratch resistant. It is also fairly resistant to corrosion and wear. 

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is made up of 11% chromium mixed with steel to prevent the metal rusting, tarnishing or corroding. It has strong and durable qualities which make it perfect for someone with an active lifestyle. Widely used by designers for its versatility stainless steel is a shiny, radiant affordable metal. It is used for all kinds of jewellery such as earrings, watches, bracelets. Titanium is most commonly used in men's watches and jewellery including wedding rings because of its durability. This contemporary metal with a polished finish comes in colours of black, grey and silver. Found in countries like China, Norway, South Africa and New Zealand it is one of the strongest metals making it suitable for everyday use. Titanium is also hypoallergenic and doesn't include alloys. 

Tungsten

This unassuming metal is four times harder than titanium and has a brilliant shine to it which makes it ideal for men's wedding rings and other types of jewellery. Tungsten is a unique metal found in the regions of China, Brazil, Peru, Thailand and Portugal.

Palladium

Palladium is fast becoming popular for engagement rings due to its white finish. As part of the platinum family of precious metals, it can be used as an alloy when making white gold. Palladium has a great purity and strength which prevents it from expanding when exposed to heat. It is lighter than platinum and does not tarnish; it is a metal that will look great for years to come. As with all precious metals, palladium jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.Some jewellery metals can be plated; sometimes that plating is a precious metal over another precious metal. The most commonly seen is silver, gold and rhodium plating. Any precious metal used for plating must still be of a legally recognised fineness. Although the finished item is covered with a precious metal, it cannot be hallmarked as it is only a covering.

Skin allergies and sensitive skin

If you want to know which metals are the best options for those with sensitive skin or skin allergies speak to a member of staff in any Ernest Jones store who will be happy to advise you.

Alloys and hallmarks

Both gold and platinum are alloyed to make them more hard-wearing, since in their pure forms they are too soft to be suitable for jewellery. This is called alloying which is also used to create the different colours of gold. By mixing gold with silver and copper, it retains a yellow colour; mixing it only with copper creates the pink colour of rose gold; and mixing it with silver and palladium produces white gold. Pure gold or fine gold as it is called in the industry, is also known as 24ct gold. In the UK, the gold used in fine jewellery is most commonly alloyed to 18ct (18 parts out of 24, meaning 75% purity). In different countries there are other standards that have been adopted. In the US for example, 14 carat gold is very popular (58.3% purity). The UK hallmark for 18ct gold is  ‘750’, signifying 750 parts gold out of 1000. Platinum on the other hand is typically alloyed to 95% purity in the UK (the other 5% is usually ruthenium or cobalt), for which the hallmark is ‘950’ hallmark, signifying 950 parts platinum out of 1000.

Malleability

In practical terms, one of the most important differences to be aware of is in malleability, platinum being less malleable than gold. This gives platinum the advantage when creating very delicate structures and very secure diamond settings. However, it can also be problematic if you want to set a softer gemstone like emerald, where the force need to create a platinum setting could damage the stone.

Wear and tear

Important practical consideration is how the two metals age. Despite the very high tensile strength of platinum, it actually marks relatively easily, forming what is known as a 'patina' of tiny scratches on its surface. Wedding and engagement rings are inevitably subjected to significant wear and tear as a result of being worn every day. This is particularly noticeable on the underside of rings, where they come into regular contact with hard objects like door handles for example. After a while, platinum will lose its brightly polished finish, and take on a greyer colour, and will need to be re-polished every few years if you want it to look pristine. Whereas a  white gold ring that has been rhodium-plated, as the rhodium gets scuffed and scratched away it will eventually start to reveal the natural warmer colour of the white gold underneath. Every few years, the ring will need to be re-polished and re-plated if you want it to look bright white again. 

Weight

On a final note, in addition to differences in their strength and durability, there is also a noticeable difference in the density of gold and platinum. While gold is famously heavy, platinum is even heavier. In fact, a platinum ring will weigh about 50% more than the same ring in 18ct white gold. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like any more advice on the which is the best precious metal option for you. We'd be delighted to help.