Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Without metals, jewelry would not be possible. From affordable metals to platinum and everything in between, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for the latest jewelry metals on the market.
There are three main metals that are used in jewelry-making: Platinum, gold, and silver. These days although silver is one of the most affordable metals, it is too soft to be used in jewelry-making. This is why we have the “alloying” process, where metals are combined together to add strength and color. For silver, it is usually alloyed with copper in order to create sterling silver, which is stamped with “.925”. Sterling silver is cheaper, stronger, but easier to tarnish. We used .925 Sterling Silver in some of our experimental pieces.
Gold is the most commonly used metal in fine jewelry here at BoBen Designs. However, the appearance of gold isn’t always yellow. There is also white-gold and rose-gold jewelry as well. Although the natural color of gold is yellow, the different color variations are also a product of alloying. In the case of rose-gold, yellow-gold is alloyed with copper and silver to achieve the pinkish hue.
What about white gold? First, traditional yellow-gold is mixed with other metals such as palladium, silver, nickel, copper, or zinc to give the yellow-gold a more white-silver color. We don't do this on-site, but we do purchase the highest-quality white-gold on the market. After the allowing process, the white-gold pieces are coated with metals such as platinum or rhodium to enhance the whiteness of the gold and to add durability.
So what’s the difference between a platinum coating and a rhodium coating?
When it comes to the coating, platinum coating lasts considerably longer than rhodium coating. Rhodium-dipped white-gold will usually need to be re-dipped because the coating tends to wear-of with daily use.
You probably have seen or heard of “10K”, “18K” or “24K” gold. Gold is commonly identified by carat. The higher the carat, the purer the gold, but the less durable it tends to be. This means that if you’re planning on buying a piece for daily wear, you may want to consider buying a lower carat metal so that the piece will last longer.
While people often mistake white-gold and platinum, they’re two different types of metals. As stated above, white-gold is yellow-gold that has been mixed with
other metals, whereas platinum itself is a type of metal without the alloying process. Platinum is rarer than gold and is very durable, doesn’t tarnish and is hypoallergenic.
The longevity of this metal is what makes it the perfect metal for jewelry that is intended to be passed down from generation to generation. Due to its brilliance, platinum is the perfect metal to set with diamonds and gemstones, which is why we use it so often in our own pieces here at BoBen Designs. Platinum must have a purity of at least 90% platinum and is usually labeled with the letters PLAT.
Our next blog post will cover gemstones, including diamonds.
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