While it may not be the most glamorous topic in jewelry design, espeeeecially when we have diamonds involved, it is most definitely a necessity! When deciding what metal to use in a piece, there is more to think about than just the color of it (although that is pretty important). Today I am making it easy for you by breaking down the pros and cons to the big 3 precious metals most commonly used in jewelry - gold, platinum, and silver. All are popular, all are shiny, and all are tough enough to be worn consistently! There’s no wrong choice here.
Gold is the most “complicated” metal option we have. It can be yellow, white, or rose colored… with 24k, 18k, and 14k most often used. Basically, the Karat of gold, or how pure the metal is, is based out of 24k - which is straight pure gold (and too soft to be used in jewelry). Mixing alloys into the gold increases its strength, hardness, and reduces the cost, and is also how we can change the color to a white or rose gold.
Usually in the US we use 14k gold because it is harder and more durable than a higher karat. All gold will be marked with the karat purity somewhere on the piece though, so now if you see it, you know what it means!
- Resists corrosion.
- Rarest metal.
- Lasts a long time.
- Comes in yellow, white, or rose colors.
- Has been used in jewelry for thousands of years.
- More expensive than silver.
- If you have a rarer colorless diamond, yellow gold will create a yellowish hue to your diamond (but does help yellow tinted diamonds look whiter).
This is one of our most popular white metals today, with more of a strong gray-white than a gleaming white color.
- Resists corrosion.
- Complements any gemstone because it is neutral in color.
- Can patina over time - where the luster changes, becoming softer, richer, and more subtle (which might be a con if you don’t like the patina look).
- Density is greater than other metals.
- Great for metal allergies.
- Most expensive metal material.
- Dents easier than 14K gold.
- Scratches easier.
- Quite malleable. Will bend if you smash your ring or hit it on something (corner of the fridge, door handle, lifting weights, etc.)
This is another one of our white metals, with a luminous white coloring. Pure silver, however, is too soft to be used in jewelry so it is mixed with alloys - giving us the sterling silver metal that we most commonly use.
- Complements any colored gemstone (not high in value) because it is neutral in color.
- Brightest, shiniest metal on Earth (when polished).
- Most affordable of the 3 main metals.
- Can be polished back to its original state.
- Will tarnish over time.
- Can be more prone to scratches than other metals.
- Usually is not strong enough for expensive jewelry with diamonds or other precious gemstones (best used for fashion jewelry with semi-precious stones like amethyst, citrine, turquoise, etc.).
Metals might not be exciting, but they are important! They give us the overall aesthetic feel in any jewelry piece. Don’t forget that over time, every metal will benefit in having a good polish to get that original vibrant shine back. And really, the metal choice just comes down to personal preference because truly all 3 of our top options are great for jewelry. Whatever works for you is perfect!