Precious Metals Education
By Magen Roccaforte , Thursday, January 24, 2013
Before making a fine jewelry purchase, it is important for customers to acquaint themselves with the characteristics of the various jewelry materials and get a bit of a precious metals education. Some of the most common precious metals used in creating jewelry are gold, silver, platinum, palladium and tungsten.
The most frequently used gold alloys are 14K white gold, 18K white gold, 14K yellow gold, 18K yellow gold and 14K rose gold (also known as 14K pink gold). Due to its versatility and durability, 14K gold is recognized as the standard in the jewelry industry. It is resistant to tarnish and corrosion and is hard enough to be very durable. Gold is inherently yellow in color and must be plated with rhodium in order to achieve a bright white appearance. Palladium is often combined with gold as an alloy to create white gold. Like platinum, palladium is a white metal that does not require plating. Occasion polishing will return both of these metals to a shiny lustrous state.
Consumers searching for white metal often choose platinum for their jewelry. Even though it is a more expensive choice, platinum has many excellent qualities. It is the most durable of jewelry metals and when it is scratched it does not lose volume- the metal is simply displaced and can be restored by polishing. Platinum does not turn yellow over time as white gold alloys do when rhodium plating wears off, and it can be polished repeatedly without wearing down. It is also hypoallergenic, making it a very safe choice for those with sensitive skin.
Tungsten offers customers an exceptional strength along with its heavy weight. Tungsten is hypoallergenic, and is highly scratch resistant and able to hold long lasting high polish. However, tungsten cannot be re-sized because it is prone to shattering.
Silver is by nature a relatively soft metal. It is often combined with other metals, to make it stronger. The most common alloy is sterling silver, a blend of 92.5% pure silver and 7.25% copper. Newer silver alloys are also found in the market today that may or may not improve tarnish resistance, which is the biggest downside to silver as a jewelry metal.
Metal education is vital when preparing for any jewelry purchase. Factors such as budget, lifestyle and upkeep are all significant aspects to be considered before making a decision. The right choice varies from person to person and must be based solely on the individual.
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