When purchasing jewelry, it’s important to know what metal it is made from. Most metals in jewelry consist of alloys where the listed metal type is only part of the concoction. For allergy reasons, there are some alloys that many people cannot wear. However, knowing the type of metal in a piece of jewelry is also helpful in letting you know how to take care of it. Not all metals are created equal, especially when it comes to jewelry.
Sterling silver is a very popular metal for affordable fashion jewelry. It is a white metal, and consists of pure silver, nickel, and several other metals. Because of the alloy, it is more sturdy than pure silver. It is prone to tarnishing, but looks beautiful when maintained.
Platinum is a very dense, sturdy metal. It is a white metal, which means it is a color similar to silver. It is rarer than gold, which means it is more expensive as well. While it is sturdy, it is not scratch resistant. Wearing a platinum piece often will cause it to develop a patina, which reduces its shine. However, if that should happen, the piece can be polished to its original shine!
Most of the time, when you think of gold, yellow gold is what comes to mind. All gold is naturally yellow, but that color can differ depending on alloy and purity. 24 karat gold is 100% pure, whereas 18 and 14 karat are a lower percentage. These alloys are more affordable and much sturdier than pure gold, making them much more popular.
This type of gold is an alloy of yellow gold and white metals such as nickel and silver, then a rhodium plating on top. Because it is an alloy, it is not possible to get 24 karat white gold. Over time, a piece of white gold jewelry will begin to turn a yellowish tint—this is due to the rhodium plating wearing off. Some jewelers will offer complementary rhodium plating for the lifetime of the piece! However, you should try to limit how often you have it re-plated, as the process can be damaging to the piece if it is done too often.
Like white gold, rose gold is an alloy. The highest karat you’ll likely see with rose gold is 18 karats, as the alloy typically contains 25% copper and 75% gold. While it isn’t as popular as white or yellow gold, rose gold is much beloved for its unique rosy color.