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Jewelry Metal Guide

Gold

Gold is a precious metal for use in jewelry, coins, and many other areas.  It is mined and in its purest form it is found as nuggets or grains.  Gold has a yellow color which does not does not oxidize when contacting air or water.  Fine gold is 24 Karat but typically is not used in to make jewelry in its purest form because it is too soft to work on.  Normally it is mixed with alloys which make the metal harder and easier to work on.  The most common form of gold used to make jewelry is 14 karat with is 58.5% gold and 41.5% alloy, although 18 karat and 10 karat are also used and popular.  10 Karat gold is 41.6% gold and 58.4% alloy.  18 karat gold is 75% gold and 25% alloys.  The markings on the inside of our rings and those of many others are as follows:
10K
14 K or 585
18 K or 750
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as white gold.  White gold is a mix of 24 karat gold with white alloys, giving it a white color.  White gold is coated with Rhodium to give it it’s beautiful luster and white color.  In its natural form, white gold actually has an off white color which is made perfectly white with the Rhodium plating.

Palladium

Palladium is a metal within the platinum family.  The other metals in the family are platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium.  Palladium is known for having the lowest melting point as well as being the least dense.  Being the least dense means that it will weigh less than the same piece of jewelry made in platinum or another metal, making it less expensive since it will weigh less.  Palladium has gained popularity for several reasons over the last few years.  One of the reasons is due to soaring cost of platinum.  Since palladium has the same beautiful luster and shine that platinum does, it is considered a less expensive alternative.  It is marked on the inside of rings as PALD.  Also, palladium is a great alternative for people that have nickel allergies since palladium is not alloyed with nickel.
 

Platinum

Platinum is a rare precious metal.  It is actually rarer than gold, but unlike gold, it is used in its pure form to make jewelry.  It is most commonly used in either 95% or 92.5% purity, versus gold which is most commonly used in 58.5% (14K) purity.  Once polished, platinum has a gray-white lustrous finish.  Like palladium, it does not oxidize when coming into contact with water and air.  It has an incredibly high melting temperature and is very dense.  It is well liked amongst people that have allergies to gold.  Since it is so dense, pieces made in platinum can be very pricey because they are heavier than their gold counterparts by about 1 and a half times and the metal is more expensive by the gram.  It is marked as PLAT, PL or PL950 or PL925 on the inside of the rings.
 

Silver

Silver is a precious metal and, much like gold, is too fine to be utilized in a 100% pure form. To make it durable enough for use in jewelry, pure silver, which has a .999 fineness (99.9%), is often alloyed with small quantities of copper (7.5%). The copper is added to strengthen the silver and the resulting product is .925 sterling silver (92.5%). This alloy is strong enough to be used in jewelry.  Silver does tarnish when expose to air or water containing ozone or hydrogen sulfide.  In order to prevent oxidation, which causes the metal to turn black or dark green, some people like to rhodium or platinum plate their jewelry.   In order to achieve a yellow gold look using silver, it is very common to use a thin layer of yellow gold applied with the same methodology as rhodium or platinum plating.  The result is a lustrous yellow look that appears the same as yellow gold.  Silver most times is stamped either SS, 925 or 950.