Precious Metals

Gold

A bright yellow metal, gold is highly malleable. This means that it’s easily bent into different shapes, which is a good and bad thing. Often gold has to be mixed with other metals so that it will keep its shape and not damage as easily. The actual word gold generally means “pure” gold or 24 karat gold but because 24 karat gold is so soft, it is mixed with alloys to increase it’s durability. The measure of karat is important in understanding how much gold is actually in the jewelry you buy. When you buy a 14K gold piece of jewelry, you are getting 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy metal. All gold jewelry should be marked with karat quality and the trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark.

Platinum

A type of precious metal, platinum actually costs more than gold. Usually, platinum is mixed with other metals within the platinum group such as iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, and osmium. They measure the amount of platinum in a piece of jewelry different that with gold. They base it on parts per thousand (i.e. 900 platinum means out of 1000, 900 parts are pure).

Sterling Silver

This describes a piece that is 92.5% silver. They will sometimes be marked similar to platinum with 925, meaning 925 parts pure silver out of a thousand. Quality-marked silver must bare the name or registered trademark of the company or party that stands behind the mark.

Other Metals

Sometimes jewelers will use titanium, stainless steel, tungsten and other metals to craft jewelry. These are used in pieces that require extreme strength and damage resistance. Often times used in men’s wedding rings.