Types of Precious Metal

Types of Precious Metal


Precious metals are ways to express emotions to a loved one and make precious memories. Whatever the occasion, event or whoever it is for we at A Star Diamonds are sure to have that something special for you. The following metal buyers guide will help you choose the right metal for you and your partner including aftercare guidance to ensure your jewellery remains looking beautiful as the day you bought it.

Today’s jewellery is made using a wide selection of metals either on its own or combined together, there are 86 types of known metals however only a few of those are used in jewellery making. When choosing an engagement ring or wedding ring you must ensure you choose the right metal for the ring as the metal is the base that holds that precious gem in place therefore is equally of importance.

At A Star Diamonds we pride ourselves in using metals sustained in ethical manner. All our merchants must provide confirmation that they are using the sustainable and ethical methods.

We stock the most precious metals to make our jewellery. All our rings can be made in the choice of your metal to suit your budget. We have various precious metals such as yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, platinum, palladium, sterling silver and stainless steel. We also have a collection of gent’s titanium and zirconium rings.

Each metal creates a statement therefore ensure the right one is chosen for your partner in terms of looks, sturdiness and cost. If you are choosing a wedding or eternity ring ensure the bands must be the same metal as the engagement ring to avoid the metals rubbing together and scratching/wearing off.

Fine jewellery is usually crafted from either gold or platinum, there are differences between both the metals how can you decide which best suits you. Gold is “original” precious metal of choice its beauty has been desirable over thousands of years yet platinum is even rarer than gold and more valuable and has a gained prestige in the choice of metals in recent years.

Here is brief explanation of each of the metals that we use:-

Gold – Is by far the most popular metals of all used in jewellery making. Gold is exceptionally flexible and elegant with a classical look – Is very popular for its golden and warm tone and captured all mankind heart like no other metal. It has been used by Ancient Egyptians in creating art and since used for jewellery for over 6000 years. It is now also a strong commodity within the financial market. The gold metal itself is very flexible and is easily moulded into various shapes and designs. It is ideal for engraving and setting stones. It is very easy to maintain as it is resistant to tarnish and rust, shine can fade slightly with detergents and moisturisers but is easily polished back to its original shine.

Gold jewellery must be stored separately to avoid getting scratched from hard metal and discolour.

Gold is a very soft and the softness is based on the purity of gold, gold on its own cannot be used in jewellery making as it is too soft to make jewellery. As gold is too soft other alloy metals such as copper and zinc is mixed and hence all gold jewellery has hall marks to confirm the amount of pure gold.

Break down follows:-

24 Karat – 99.9% pure

22 Karat – 91.7% pure

18 Karat – 75% pure

14 Karat – 58.3% pure

10 Karat – 41.7% pure

 It is important to select jewellery based on how much you will use the piece of jewellery as when buying a ring it needs to be strong due to the use of it therefore best to select either 18 or 14 karat as it much stronger than 22 karat due to less purity of gold within it. The alloys that are mixed with gold can change its colour, there are many mixtures however the three most commonly used are yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.

Yellow Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct – Has always been popular for engagement and wedding rings due to its hue of warmth and shine. It is recognised as romantic and timeless and versatile for various jewellery designs and gems. Yellow gold is mixed with a tiny silver and copper to bring out the warmth. Due to the karats of gold there is slight colour variations. Usually there is no allergic reaction to wearing gold, colour does not change and resistant to tarnish. Easily maintained, keep away from chemicals, polish with a jewellery polish cloth to bring back shine.

White Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct – Is elegant and fashionable, with a shiny silvery tone different to yellow gold. It started from 1920 when it became fashionable with art deco. The silvery tone attracts people to the simplicity and subtle look. Gold is naturally yellow and too soft to make into jewellery therefore mixed with stronger alloys. To get the silvery tone it is mixed with one or more of the white metals such as palladium which is the most common followed by nickel and magnesium. White gold is an alternative to platinum and more affordable and used with diamond settings as it complements each other. White gold naturally contains the pure yellow gold, and the silvery shine is formed using the rhodium from the platinum group of metals to improve the whiteness and durability. Cleaning is easy in warm soapy water however keep away from other item of jewellery as the rhodium can scratch and golden hues might come through.

Rose Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct – Has become popular and trendy in recent years and very fashionable in making traditional jewellery. It was first widespread back in 1920’s when Louis Cartier designed the Trinity ring consisting of three interlocking rings of yellow, rose and white gold. Yellow displayed loyalty, white friendship and rose love, together it symbolised harmony. Since then rose gold has been used as an alternative to yellow and white gold. It is very stylish and elegant and due to the colour it matches more skin tones than yellow and white. Yellow gold is mixed with copper to get the rose colour. Maintenance is the same as any gold, it should not be in touch with chemicals and stored separate from other jewellery. Like all other gold it is hallmarked.

Two/Three colour gold – As mentioned above gold comes in three colours yellow, white and rose gold. When a jewellery is mixed with different colours of gold it is called either two toned gold jewellery or three toned gold jewellery. The different tones are usually put together to create a fashionable look also it symbolises the love between the two people as mentioned earlier yellow displays loyalty, white friendship and rose love combined together it symbolises harmony. It is also recognised as past, present and future. Hence the two / three tone is ideally chosen for eternity and anniversary rings.

Platinum – Is very popular due to the purity, colour, durability and status. Platinum has a beautiful subtle shiny silver look. The strength and resistance to tarnishing is the attraction as it is suitable for busy lifestyle users and chosen due to its popularity amongst the rich and famous. Platinum metal is a pure metal unlike gold which is mixed with alternative stronger alloys therefore platinum is ideal for sensitive skins and those with allergic reactions. This metal is used in both men and women’s jewellery however it is ideal for men’s wedding ring due to the strength and weight making it ideal for diamond settings. However it wears over time and scratches easily if in contract with stronger metals as steel. Can be easily re-polished and easy to clean in warm soapy water, dry with a soft cloth. Platinum is more expensive to gold due to its purity and rarer than gold. Many people buy platinum as heirloom and pass it down family. A traditional platinum jewellery piece would have the 950 mark meaning it contains 95% platinum.

Palladium – An alternative metal to platinum due to its affordability. Its appearance is of the platinum, shiny silvery white colour and strong. It has become more popular in recent years as an alternative to the platinum for those that are looking for affordable jewellery. It falls within the platinum group of metals however much softer than platinum. Ideal for sensitive skins and those with allergic reactions due to purity of the metal. Also like platinum if dented or scratched it can easily be re-polished and as platinum easily cleaned in warm soapy water and died with a soft cloth. Palladium is a precious metal in its own right and more elegant when set with diamonds and gems.

Palladium must me hall marked as all other precious metals. There is 2 marks to establish palladium 500 and 950.This simply means how much palladium is actually in the piece of jewellery for 500 mark it means 50% palladium and 950 means 95% palladium the rest is other alloys.

Sterling Silver – Is the most popular, contemporary and fashionable precious metal. The metal itself is soft and cannot be used in its original form to make any jewellery which is why it is mixed with other alloys to increase its strength and flexibility, as then is can be made into all types of jewellery. It is ideal for making larger statement jewellery. Silver has become more fashionable as fashion designers are using silver to create exquisite pieces which can be affordable by all.

 When pure silver is mixed with less than 7.5% of alloys it is known as sterling silver. As with all precious metals sterling silver will also have a hall mark for its quality and authenticity. Its hallmark is usually 925 as it contains 92.5% of sterling silver and 7.5% of other alloys usually copper. The colour is brighter than other white metals and complements diamonds and other gems.

Silver jewellery is prone to tarnishing with the ambience of air therefore it is important to clean the tarnish prior to cause of rust or harm to your jewellery. Tarnish is easily cleaned with polishing solution to get back the silver shining effect. Silver scratches easily therefore ensure to store it separately to other jewellery items.

 Stainless steel – It is a stronger metal than many others and perfect for a person with active lifestyle. It is commonly used by jewellers for its flexibility, strength, shiny look and affordability. Stainless steel is mixed with a minimum of 10.5% of chromium to stop the metal from rusting and tarnishing. It is known for its resistance in corroding and widely used amongst making jewellery, household items and industrial items. It is an ideal material used for making bracelet straps for watches due to its smooth surface, and resistance to scratching and not to forget the low cost. Stainless steel is used more in men’s jewellery than women’s as men’s jewellery tends to be much more bulkier and heavier therefore it is cost effective.

Cleaning is easy soak in warm soapy water and polish with a soft cloth.

 Titanium – In recent years it has become more popular although it was first discovered in 1791. Titanium is low in cost as it is available in plenteous. It is hard wearing, light in weight, resistant to tarnish, scratch resistant and feels light on the finger. It is very hard to manipulate it into different designs due to the strong nature of the metal.

 In recent years techniques have been sourced for jewellery making and has now become one of the modern metals to use in jewellery. As titanium is hard wearing it is also non-toxic therefore ideal for those with allergies and sensitive skin and is used for surgical appliances for this reason. Titanium is resilient to chlorine. It can be easily cleaned in warm soapy water, rinsed in cold water and then dried with a soft cloth. It can get scratched from every day wear and tear however will build a layer of patina over time. In case of a deep scratch it can easily be refinished to bring it back to its original form.

Zirconium – It is not a natural metal but obtained from other minerals such as purifying zircon with chlorine. Is very hard and durable and great for those wishing to wear their ring whilst doing hard manual work due to strong resistance to scratches and corrosion. It is used in dental fillings due to its strong nature and great for people with allergies and sensitive skin. Zirconium is a choice for the modern look and something different at a low cost. It is naturally a grey-whitish in colour. It is much easier to work with than titanium therefore can be made into various designs. It can be easily cleaned in warm soapy water, rinsed in cold water and then dried with a soft cloth. As with all jewellery it can be scratched from daily wear and tear however overtime it will build a patina over the surface.

 Alloys and hallmarks – Both gold and platinum are mixed with alloys to make them hard wearing to be used in jewellery and the amount of alternative alloys gives the gold it’s white and rose colour. The amount of gold in each is also measured in form of karats, pure gold is 24karats however as this is too soft to make into jewellery other alloys are mixed hence why each jewellery item must be hallmarked to state the percentage of gold used. See the above table for breakdown of percentage of gold used in 9/14/18/22 karat of gold. Platinum is usually 95% pure and 5% is either of rhodium or cobalt which the hall mark is 950 which means 950 parts of platinum out of 1000.

 Flexibility – Is important in selecting the right choice of metal as it is the base of setting a diamond / gem stone. Platinum is less flexible than gold therefore you may not be able to design a bespoke ring with lots of designs with this metal however it is much more secure to set a diamond in. It can be problematic trying to set a softer gem in platinum setting as the force needed to create the setting can damage the stone. If you already have a diamond or gem in mind to use, speak to one of our specialist team to help you select the right choice of metal.

 Skin allergies and sensitive skin – If you or your partner has skin allergies or sensitive skin and want help in finding out the best options of metals then contact us and one of our specialist team members will be more than happy to help you.

 Wear and tear - It is important to select the right choice of metal as each metal age differently. Platinum is a harder metal than gold however it scratches easily and forms “patina” tiny scratches on the surface. Engagement and wedding rings are without doubt significant to wear and tear as is worn every day and the underside of rings becomes noticeable of the scratches due to hard knocks on door handles etc. Platinum in time will lose its brightly polished look but can be easily re-polished every few years to bring it back to its original form whereas a white gold ring will lose its colour and start to reveal its warmer gold colour underneath therefore it will need to be re-polished and re-plated every few years to keep it looking bright white.

 Weight – In addition to the variations in strength and durability, the weight of both the metal also differs, gold is heavy than most metals however platinum is much heavier at around 50% more heavier than an 18ct in white gold ring.

 Please feel free to contact our team for specialist advice in selecting the best option for you.