Precious Metals

Gold

Gold is the most popular choice for men's and ladies wedding rings and engagement rings. Gold is also very popular in dress rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets.

There are two things to consider when looking at gold. First, which gold carat to choose and second, the gold color or the combination of gold colors available.

Gold carat

There are several carats available for gold. The carat is the gold content of the metal. The carat measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloy to make up the final metal. The carat of gold is represented in many countries by the abbreviation ct. Carat can also be called karat, represented by kt or K.

You may notice that carat or ct is also used to measure the weight of diamonds and gemstones. Although the same name is used, the two measurements are measuring different characteristics of jewelry.

The gold carats normally used in men's wedding rings are 9kt, 14kt and 18kt.

The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be. So all other things being the same, an 18kt ring will be more expensive than a 14kt ring and a 14kt ring will be more expensive than a 9kt ring.

  • 9kt gold contains 37.5% pure gold (375 parts per thousand parts).
  • 14kt gold contains 58.5% pure gold (585 parts per thousand parts).
  • 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand parts).


The remainder of the metals is made up of a combination of alloys, different metals that can help to give the metal its unique appearance, such as a different color.

Other gold carats are used in different parts of the world including 10ct, 22ct and 24ct. It is generally considered that 22ct and 24ct gold are too soft to be used to make men's wedding rings. 10ct gold (417 parts pure gold per thousand parts) is very similar to 9kt gold and the reason why some countries use 9kt and other countries use 10ct is due to historical reasons, rather than one being superior to the other.

Jewelry is normally stamped with a marking to show the type of gold.

  • For 9kt gold the stamp will normally be either the number 375, 9kt, 9kt or 9K.
  • For 14kt gold the stamp will normally be either the number 585, 14kt, 14kt or 14K.
  • For 18kt gold the stamp will normally be either the number 750, 18kt, 18kt or 18K.


The stamps only indicate the carat of metal. They do not indicate the color of the metal. So for example an 18kt yellow gold ring would have a stamp of 750, as would an 18kt white gold ring.

9kt, 14kt and 18kt gold are each relatively hard and durable metals and are suitable for use in all types of fine jewelry. Gold is also suitable to be used in jewelry that is worn on an every day basis.

When choosing jewelry, particularly rings, many people consider the hardness and durability of gold to be used in their ring. Metal hardness is measured by what is called the Vickers scale where harder metals receive a higher Vickers score than less hard metals. 9kt has a Vickers hardness of 120 and 18kt has a Vickers hardness of 125. This shows 18kt as harder, but the difference is so slight that in practical terms 9kt and 18kt are much the same in terms of hardness. There is another difference that should be considered when comparing 9kt and 18kt. 9kt is more difficult to bend and is a little more springy and therefore a fine 9kt ring may be less likely to bend out of shape than a fine 18kt ring. However, if the ring is of a good sturdy construction neither metal will be likely to bend out of shape.

Gold colors

Next you need to consider the color of gold.

Gold is available in several different colors. The most popular is yellow gold, followed by white gold and rose gold, though other gold colors are sometimes also available such as bronze, red and lime gold.

Jewelry can also be made using a combination of different gold colors. These jewelry items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-colored gold. The gold content of yellow gold is measured in the same way it is measured in, for example, white gold. So an 18kt white gold ring contains 75% pure gold, just as 18kt yellow gold contains 75% pure gold. The metals used in the alloy mix determine the difference in color between yellow, white and rose. As the color difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the color of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age.

Mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc makes yellow gold. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. The copper provides the rose-reddish color. White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium. Traditionally nickel was used in white gold, however, nickel is no longer used in most white gold made today as nickel can cause reactions with some people. We do not use nickel in our white gold.

When white gold rings are new they can be coated with another white metal called Rhodium. Rhodium is a metal very similar to platinum and rhodium shares many of the properties of platinum including its white color. The rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look whiter. The natural color of white gold is actually a light gray color. The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be re-rhodium plated approximately each 12 to 18 months. Most local jewelers are able to rhodium plate jewelry for a cost effective price. As each gold color contains the same proportion of pure gold all gold colors with the same carat weight when measured on the Vickers scale have the same Vickers score.

There can be a difference in color between the different carats of gold.

  • 18kt yellow gold is more yellow than 9kt yellow gold with 18kt yellow gold having a richer golden color making 18kt yellow gold a more popular choice of yellow gold than 9kt for ladies engagement rings.
  • 9kt rose gold has a darker rose-copper color than 18kt rose gold, which has a more subtle rose color.
  • 9kt white gold and 18kt white gold have a similar white color (as normally both have a rhodium plating finish.


When comparing the price of the gold colors in the same carat, white gold is normally a little more expensive than yellow gold and rose gold. Yellow gold and rose gold normally have approximately the same price.

When trying to decide between the gold carat types there are three things to consider:

  1. The metals performance with every day wear
  2. The difference in color between the 9kt, 14kt and 18kt gold
  3. The difference in price between the gold carats.

In practical terms, 18kt generally holds up to everyday wear better than 9kt and tends to look better than 9kt as it ages over the years. This is one of the reasons why 18kt is normally preferred for ladies engagement rings rather than 9kt.

18kt is the superior metal for lady's and men's wedding rings provided that the ring is not a lightweight construction (Gillett's Jewelers rings are a good construction.) However, 18kt is more expensive than 14kt and 9kt, which is usually fine for ladies engagement rings, though in a large men's ring the 18kt price can be a noticeable difference.

9kt, 14kt and 18kt are each suitable equally suitable for use in dress rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces. Many people choose 9kt and 14kt for their earrings and pendants due to its lower price.

Platinum

Platinum is a white metal, but unlike gold it is used in jewelry in almost it's pure form (approximately 95% pure.) Platinum is extremely long wearing and and is very white, so it does not need to be Rhodium plated like white gold does. It is a very dense and heavy metal, so a Platinum ring will feel heavier then a 18kt gold ring. Platinum is, however, significantly more expensive than gold. If all variables are the same, a platinum ring will be twice the price of an 18kt gold ring. Platinum is a prestige choice and is often chosen for it's sophisticated appeal and popularity among the rich and famous. Platinum is normally not used in the full range of jewelry due to it's high price. It is normally use in lady's and men's engagement and wedding rings. Platinum is not commonly used in earrings, pendants, bracelets, or necklaces.

Silver

Sterling silver is a white-gray colored metal, which is less expensive then gold,Platinum,and titanium. Silver is a softer metal then gold and the other precious metals.It just simply does not have the durability and hardness that the other metals do. Silver is a popular metal for earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, and dress rings.It is best used in jewelry that will not be worn everyday for an extended period of time (because of the softness.) It is strongly recommended that it not be used in engagement/wedding rings. The malleability of the metal makes it not suitable for holding it's shape or any gemstones of extreme value. Silver is also more prone to oxidization, sometimes causing the silver to turn black and tarnished. However the silver can be made to look like new again with the aid of a silver jewelry cleaner (available at most department stores) or if you have your jewelry cleaned by a local jeweler.

 

 

 

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