Whether you are designing your own jewellery, getting a jewellery item made, or just trying to pick out the perfect piece, the gold or metal choice you choose will change its durability, appearance and cost. Understanding the benefits of each type of gold and metal in jewellery will help you make a more informed choice when buying for yourself or for others.
Yellow gold is the most common type of gold used in jewellery. The pureness of gold is measured in karats (K). 24k is technically pure gold. So if something is 12k, it is made up of 50% of gold and then mixed with other metals such as copper and silver. To work out the percentage of gold simply divide the karats by 24 and multiply by 100. The purer the gold the more softer it is. This is important to note when looking for engagement, wedding rings or everyday jewellery, as 24k will be too soft and the jewellery will rub against other jewellery items and skin, which may cause them to deform and wear away. This is why gold is mixed with other metals and plated with strong metals to make up 18k, 14k and 9k. 18 karat gold is most suitable for commonly worn jewellery items as it is stronger, shiny and bright. If you want to easily tell the difference between higher karats of gold – look at the brightness, as gold is naturally yellow so 18k will appear brighter than 14 and 9K.
Something else to consider when choosing jewellery is whether it will corrode or show an allergic reaction. Nickel, found in 9 and 14 karat gold is the most common metal which people can show reactions to such as itching, redness and swelling. People may think they are allergic to gold, but in fact it is most likely the nickel content in gold alloys, which is caused by the nickel salts, which can react on perspiring skin.
White gold is made up of zinc, silver and nickel – available in 14 and 18k. Quality white gold should be plated with rhodium to make it stronger (as it can be weak with it) and palladium to get the best white colour. Rose gold/pink gold, as the name suggests has a pink tinge and can be used to detail yellow gold. Rose gold has more copper mixed into it to create the colour difference. Other types of jewellery metal include titanium, platinum (most expensive and most durable – but also will not cause irritation or allergies), palladium (similar to platinum, but ¼ of the price), Tungsten Carbide (commonly used for men’s wedding bands) and stainless steel (bracelets, necklaces and pendants/broaches).
Gold and titanium are both suitable for most, if not all types of jewellery, however other metals such as platinum and palladium are not suitable or commonly used for pendants, broaches, bracelets, earrings or necklaces. Silver is not suitable for any type of ring – men’s or women’s.
Another consideration is complimenting jewellery to skin tone. Metals such as silver, platinum and white gold compliment a cooler skin tone, while yellow gold and darker golds suit warm skin tones.
To test out your new knowledge in gold and metal in jewellery, start shopping now.