Gold is one of the most precious metals on Earth and is widely known as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is so highly valued and is so ideal for jewelry pieces because of its beauty, rarity, durability, and workability.
Gold is often measured in grams and when mixed with other metals, the amount of gold used in the product is referred to in “karats”, which is the proportion of gold used in an item. Pure gold is called 24 karat (K) gold and its purest form, is yellow in colour. However, because pure gold is too soft for everyday wear, it is often alloyed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. Gold that is 18 karat gold is 18/24th gold and 6/24th other metals. Other commonly used karat golds in jewelry are 14K and 10K gold. As the karat gold decreases, the lower the value as the percentage of gold used in the piece of jewelry is lower. When pure gold is mixed with other metals, it can produce other colours of gold such as white gold and rose gold.
White gold is yellow gold mixed with white metals such as silver and palladium, making it white looking in colour. It is often rhodium plated to give it a white and shiny finish. It is a durable metal and does not tarnish as easily as silver. However, white gold can lose its finish over time and should be rhodium plated roughly once a year. It has many of the same properties as yellow gold other than its colour and the karat system is also used to refer to the amount of gold used in the product.
Rose gold is produced when yellow gold is mixed with a reddish colour metal such as copper.
Caring for your gold jewelry:
Gold jewelry should be cleaned and polished from time to time as it can lose its shine over time. It can be cleaned by using warm water with soap or with a jewelry cleaner purchased from a jewelry store. Note that if your jewelry is gold plated, it can suffer gold loss over time and it may require some replating.
Gold jewelry should be stored in a cool and dry environment and it is recommended that you take off your gold jewelry when applying moisturizers, perfumes, sunscreens, soaps, and chemicals in order to prevent it from discolouring. It should be removed prior to any physical activity in order to prevent it from getting damaged.
Silver is a popular and widely used metal for jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets because of its highly reflective and shiny nature. In its purest form, silver is referred to as fine silver. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% silver and is mixed with another metal, usually copper. It is a softer metal than gold alloys or platinum and it is often not practical for wedding rings and engagement rings. The proportion of silver used in combination with other metals is usually referred to in terms of fineness, or parts of silver per thousand.
Caring for your silver jewelry:
Sterling silver is susceptible to oxidation and can tarnish, often appearing as dark yellow or orange and progressing to a blackish purple colour. If your jewelry does tarnish over time, you can remove it using a jewelry cleaner or polishing cloth purchased from a jewelry store. In order to prevent tarnish, it is best to store your silver jewelry in a soft pouch in a cool and dry environment. It is also recommended that you take off your silver jewelry when applying moisturizers, perfumes, sunscreens, soaps, and chemicals in order to prevent it from becoming tarnished. As silver is a soft metal, it should be removed prior to any physical activity in order to prevent damage.
Platinum is a very rare and pure metal and is white in colour. When used in jewelry, it is 95% platinum (950) and usually mixed with 5% ruthenium. It is a strong, durable, and heavy metal and does not tarnish easily. Platinum is generally more expensive than gold because of its rarity and therefore, platinum is not used as often as gold to make jewelry pieces.
Caring for your platinum jewelry:
Platinum is a strong and durable metal and does not suffer much metal loss over its lifetime. You can restore its shine with periodic polishing.
Palladium is similar looking to platinum in that its colour is white in nature. It is lightweight, easy to polish, and does not require rhodium plating. However, palladium is lower in price than platinum. Palladium in jewelry usually contains 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium and as a whole is called 950 palladium. You may notice that it is also similar looking to white gold.
Caring for your palladium jewelry:
You can maintain and restore the shine of palladium with periodic polishing.