There is a lot of choice on the jewellery market when it comes to design and materials. It is a little-known subject of what exactly goes into your jewellery metal, and what are the benefits and disadvantages to these. Many consumers aim for aesthetics alone, and there is no harm in this, however it is always a good idea to do a little research. Here is what you need to know; boost your confidence that your money is being put towards those materials which are durable and the right fit for you.
By far, the most popular jewellery metal on the market today is that of silver. It has a very clean and reflective luster, and is readily available to mine. This means it is far more abundant than that of gold and is therefore more worked by jewellers and is more affordable.
There are drawbacks to using silver, however, as this metal can easily tarnish. Tarnishing, in simple terms, is where the top layer of your jewellery will corrode over time due to chemical reactions fueled by the air and its surroundings. Its beautiful silver colour will hence become dull and need re-polishing multiple times through wear. Moreover, silver is very malleable and soft, and so will easily distort and knock out of shape.
Due to these factors, silver alloys are very popular when it comes to jewellery creation. A silver alloy is silver combined with other stronger metals to make the product more durable. One alloy you may have heard of is Sterling Silver, which consists of 92.5% silver. The other 7.5% of this consists of copper and other metals. This option is very highly favoured due to its strength, along with other alloys gaining popularity such as Britannia silver.
Platinum is more expensive than silver as it has unbeatable durability and holding power, and it doesn’t tarnish unlike its silver counterpart. For these factors alone, it is becoming one of the most popular jewellery choices for engagement and wedding rings. Of course, these factors are also shown in the price of this metal – with platinum costing generally 60 times more than silver.
If you’re after warmer tones of metal, than gold is the one for you. Although it is currently the most expensive metal on the market; it never tarnishes, so holds its beauty and colour, and is easily worked so preferred by jewellery makers. Furthermore, gold does not easily oxidize or corrode and so lasts a long time even with long-term wear. This metal can also be easily recycled by melting down old broken jewellery and coins into new, shining pieces.
Just like silver, gold is very soft and can easily be distorted and knocked. For this reason, you often find gold in alloy form. 24K gold is gold in its purest form, 100% gold metal, whereas with decreasing karats you get decreasing amounts of gold in combination.
Each karat of gold have their benefits and downfalls; for instance, 24K cold is beautiful and luxurious but distorts easily, whereas 10K gold is very durable and cheap but can tarnish and lose its luster. Generally, 18K gold is the sweet spot within the jewellery world as it is durable and resists tarnishing, whilst keeping its golden colour. 18K gold holds 75% gold metal, with the other 25% in copper and other metals.
Coloured golds such as white, rose, and yellow all hold the same pros and cons of gold alloys but simply have added metals in their alloys to provide their colour. For example, white gold is alloyed with 10% nickel, copper and tin, and rose gold is alloyed with considerably more copper.