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Jewelry Metals and Materials

A lot of people keep looking for diamond jewelry, and are not sure of the metals they should use for the base of the jewelry. Jewelry can be made from any material - plastic, wood, glass, etc. With all respect to the former materials, the most common materials for making jewelry are precious & noble metals.


What are precious metals? Which are most commonly used in jewelry, and how do we pick?


There are 8 precious metals - gold, silver, and six metals from the platinum Family - platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. Combinations of the previous precious metals are often used in jewelry. In order to reduce the price and increase the durability of the jewelry, other materials (such as nickel or copper) can be used. I will elaborate a bit regarding a few very commonly used metals for jewelry.


When referring to Gold, which is the base for most of the metal jewelry, we need to understand how the karat system works. 24 Karat gold will consist of roughly ~99.9% pure gold, while going down to 18 karat means that you will receive only ~75% gold (rest of the materials will vary). In 10 karat gold, you only receive a bit more than 40% pure gold.


Most gold alloys provide a different look and feel - for instance, white gold is an alloy of gold and nickel, and may contain zinc or palladium. The other metals provide the gold a platinum looking color. Rose gold is formed from gold and copper, while blue gold will contain (other than gold) some ferrous metals.


There are various different techniques of using gold in jewelry, such as gold plating other metals - for instance, using a brass metal ring, dipping into gold, and you have a gold plated ring.



To understand silver, we need to understand it’s purity. 800 silver refers to 80% silver and ~20% other metals. 925 sterling will refer to 92.5% silver, and up to 7.5% other metals. 950 sterling, as you can imagine, refers to 95% silver, while “fine silver” will refer to 99.9% silver - similar to 24 karats in gold.


Stainless Steel

The industry often uses different metals for different uses. For instance, using stainless steel on piercings is very common, as it does not suffer from corrosion or rust. It is also often used for knives and other cutlery. It is an alloy of steel and Chromium.​

To summarize, It is possible to use any material for jewelry, but throughout the years specific precious metals stayed as the primary material used. There are various reasons for this - starting from rarity and price (as jewelry is also a status symbol), but more than anything, the right alloy can stay without a scratch for years, and can remain with your family for many generations.


If you need a hand selecting the proper material for your next jewelry, give me a call. I’ll be glad to help.

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