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Guide to Precious Metals

Precious Metals Defined

A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value. Chemically, the precious metals tend to be less reactive than most elements. They are usually pliable and have a high luster.
Historically, precious metals were important as currency but are now regarded mainly as investment and industrial commodities. Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium each have an ISO 4217 currency code. The best-known precious metals are the coinage metals, gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewelry and coinage.
A guide to Precious Metals

Gold

24 Karat gold is a dense, malleable precious metal that is bright yellow in color and can be polished to a high luster. In its pure form it is considered too soft and not suitable to use in jewelry. Gold is commonly mixed with other metals, or alloys, to create a wide range of color variations and working properties. White gold is a silvery-looking gold alloy that contains gold mixed with palladium, nickel, or sometimes zinc to achieve its color. White gold has yellow undertones and is commonly rhodium-plated to create a whiter appearance. The plating will eventually wear away at which time it can be replated. White Gold is a super white alloy that does not require rhodium-plating.
- 24 Karat gold fine (99.7% gold).
- 18 Karat gold is 18 parts gold or 75% pure gold content, which may be marked as 750.
- 14 Karat gold is 14 parts gold or 58% pure gold content, which may be marked as 585.
- 10 Karat gold is 10 parts gold or 41% pure gold content.
Gold Bullion

Platinum

Platinum Engagement Ring
Platinum is a dense, malleable metal that is white in color with cool undertones. It is almost always used in its purest form in jewelry, 95%. Platinum is substantial in weight. Comparatively, a ring in platinum will weigh almost 60% more than the same ring in 14kt gold. For these reasons a platinum ring is significantly more expensive than the same item in a gold alloy.

Silver

Silver is a soft, lustrous metal that is very malleable and silvery-white in color. Sterling silver is a common alloy comprised of 92.5 % silver and 7.5 % copper. Continuum™ sterling silver is an alternative that is 92.5% pure, resistant to oxidation, and harder. Continuum™ sterling is suitable for gem setting and offers added longevity.
Silver Dollar

Contemporary Metals & Materials

A variety of metal alternatives offer lower cost options for use in jewelry, especially for mens bands. Rings created from contemporary metals cannot be sized. Follows is a list of popular contemporary metals & materials and their properties.

Metal

Color

Finish

Properties

Illustration

Titanium

Gray

Will show signs of wear, but can be polished

Lightweight, shatterproof
This lightweight, yet durable metal has a silvery gray color and is hypoallergenic.

Titanium Men Ring

Dura Cobalt®

White

Will show signs of wear, but can be polished

Shatterproof, bio-friendly, This durable metal stays white without re-plating and is sizeable to ¼ size.

Dura Cobalt Men Ring

Dura Tungsten®

Gray
White, Black (topcoat)

Will remain polished with no maintenance

Heavy, substantial feel, can fracture or break
Dura Tungsten composition differs from others by the addition of Titanium. This metal is scratch resistant and always looks permanently polished.

Tungsten Men Ring

Ceramic
Couture

Black, White, Pink (throughout)

Maintains its finish

Can break, hi-tech aerospace material. This permanently polished jewelry is lightweight, colorfast, and heat resistant.

Ceramic Couture Men Ring

Stainless Steel

Grayish White

Can be machined or cast. Will show signs of wear but can be polished

Shatterproof, also known as surgical steel. This is the highest grade given

Stainless Steel Men Ring

The Colors of Metal for Jewelry

Usually people chose the metal based on several reasons such as the karat, the popularity, the price or the color. Gold comes in yellow, white and rose. Platinum is white, and silver has a silver color with white undertone. Contemporary metals like ceramic and cobalt brings additional colors such as pink, black, pure white, cream or even green in cobalt. Now, how would you choose a metal color? Typically, color is a representation of the personality and style. Rose color gold or metal represents feminine with an edge in fashion. White or silver color with white undertone; is a symbol of understated elegance, neutral or a safe choice. Yellow gold choice of metal color signifies a traditional fashion influence, eclectic style, or warm personality. Additionaly; some people may pick a metal simply because they like it. No matter what metal or metal color you choose, or even a color mix or metal mix; the main reason is it should make her or him happy.
How to chose the metal color for an engagement ring or jewelry

References

  • Precious Metal, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precious_metal
  • Jewelry Metal Types, The Basics of Jewelry by Stuller 2012
January 10, 2016