What Metal is Right for You?

intablogeducation, Engagement Rings, jewelry, wedding bands

There are various types of metals to use for an engagement ring or other form of jewelry. And finding the right one for you can be quite an arduous task. One of the best ways to choose between which type of metal is best for a person is to learn some fundamental facts about each one.

Platinum
Platinum is regarded as the finest quality metal for fine jewelry. It is more rare than gold, contains a natural white luster, is 90-95% pure, and timeless. The white luster of platinum is unique. It is also the strongest precious metal used in jewelry, and is almost twice as heavy as 14k gold. And unlike white gold, its natural luster is permanent.

Platinum is so rare that each year only 88 tons are used to craft jewelry versus 2,700 tons of gold. So much labor goes into producing platinum. In fact, it takes 8 weeks and 10 tons of ore to produce a single ounce of platinum and there are more gold mines than platinum mines. Therefore, platinum is one of the most uncommon precious metals found on earth. Platinum jewelry is also highly desired because it is at least 90-95% pure, unlike 18k and 14k white gold. And because of platinum’s high purity content, it tends to scratch more easily. Although it is still one of the strongest metals found in jewelry. Over time, platinum develops a natural patina that many people prefer over the high polished appearance. However, for those who prefer the high polished look, platinum jewelry can simply be re-polished. And polishing will not cause platinum to wear away or decrease in volume. Platinum is also a naturally white metal that requires no additives or rhodium plating. The natural brilliant white luster found in platinum makes it an ideal choice for fine jewelry because it brings out the true beauty of diamonds or gemstone set within it. Also, the high purity level of platinum makes the metal hypoallergenic and ideal for those with sensitive skin. Although platinum scratches easily, it is still a great choice for everyday wear. Its incredible density and weight make it more durable than other metals and provides assurance in value. Platinum holds precious stones firmly and securely.
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Caring for Platinum Jewelry: To maintain platinum’s life-long beauty and value, proper care must be taken. Although platinum is strong and durable, it is still subject to damage. Therefore, we highly suggest that you remove your platinum jewelry during any rough activity. To clean platinum, soak it in mild soap and water. Then gently scrub it with a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush. To shop for platinum rings, check out our websites at:
http://www.intagems.com/settings/
http://www.intagems.com/wedding_bands/

Palladium
Palladium is a lustrous white or silver-colored metal that is commonly used in electronics. However, palladium is beginning to show an increase in popularity in the jewelry market and the precious metal is extremely rare. In 1803, William Hyde Wollaston discovered the metal and named it palladium after the asteroid Pallas. In 1939, palladium made its first appearance in jewelry.

Palladium contains many if the same traits as platinum because it resists tarnish, won’t corrode, is extremely ductile (malleable), can be 95% pure, and has a natural white luster that makes it perfect for fine jewelry. Palladium is 30 times more rare than gold and is mined together with platinum in less than half a dozen regions throughout the world. Palladium provides many of the same features of platinum at a notably lighter weight and cost. Palladium, like platinum, is naturally strong and durable when used in a higher purity alloy than other metals such as silver and gold. And because of the high purity content, palladium is also hypoallergenic and does not suffer from prong failure (that is common among many white gold settings). Palladium is also ideal for delicate designs, unlike white gold. Therefore, palladium’s natural beauty, strength, and durability, make it a great choice for fine jewelry. However, keep in mind that not all jewelers carry this type of metal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palladium

White Gold
Technically there is no such thing as actual “white gold.” Because white gold is commonly 14k (58.3%) or 18k (75%), it actually contains a natural yellowish tinge of color even though it has already been alloyed with some other white metals such as nickel, zinc, copper, silver, and palladium. And in order to give “white gold” its brilliant white lustrous color, it is plated with the chemical element known as rhodium in the final process of manufacturing. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard and durable. Rhodium also belongs in the platinum family and is one of the whitest precious metals next to silver. And because rhodium is such an expensive metal, it is only used to give a white coating for gold. However, over time the rhodium plating may wear-off, revealing the slightly yellowish tint of the underlying metal. To keep white gold looking its best, it requires rhodium re-plating every 1-2 years, depending on the condition of the jewelry.
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White gold is highly reflective and will not tarnish, rust, or corrode. And as I mentioned earlier, gold still is malleable. In ancient times, the term for white gold was called electrum and its use predates that of palladium and platinum. 18k yellow gold In 18k white gold (also referred to as nickel white gold), 75% is gold and 25% white metals (nickel, copper, zinc and/or palladium). The positive of 18k white gold is it is less workable and less ductile. However, some of the negatives are that it may cause skin irritation for those with nickel allergies and it will wear down over time. Another form of white gold is 18k palladium white gold. In this type of white gold, 75% is gold and 25% is palladium. In addition, palladium white gold is workable and rarely, if ever, causes skin irritation. Overtime, however, it will wear down and is slightly more expensive than the common 18k nickel white gold.Check out our ring settings at: http://www.intagems.com/settings/
To browse our different white gold bands go to: http://www.intagems.com/wedding_bands/

Yellow Gold
Pure gold is yellow in color and is a timeless metal that will not rust, corrode, or tarnish. Jewelers throughout the ages have preferred gold to all other metals for its beauty and ease of workmanship. Gold can be melted and shaped to create any design because of its malleability (softness and flexibility). It can be alloyed with a number of other metals to increase its strength and produce a variety of colors. In fact, the most common colors, other than yellow, are rose and white gold (usually 18k or 14k). 18k is composed of 75% gold, which is alloyed with other metals to make it strong enough to withstand every-day wear. And 14k gold, in contrast, is composed of only 58.3% gold and 41.7% of other metals to give it more added strength. In addition, the color in 18k gold is richer in color than 14k because it contains more gold content. 14k gold is commonly used for its strength and durability. Therefore, 14k is usually found in earring backings and bracelet clasps. Gold content is measured in a unit known as karats, which should not be confused with the term carat (used to measure diamond weight). The higher the karat, the greater its gold content and price. The ‘K’ number specifies how many parts (by weight) of pure gold is contained within 24 parts of the alloy.

Therefore, the content of 100% pure gold is 24 karats (24k). 24k gold is too soft for jewelry, but some prefer it for its strong yellow color. Because of the purity, 24k is usually more expensive and less durable than gold that has been alloyed with other metals. 22k gold is 91.7% gold and is usually not recommended for the usage of jewelry because it is still too soft. 18k consists of 75% gold and recommended for fine jewelry. In Europe 18k is usually marked with the stamp of ‘750’ to symbolize the gold percentage. 18k yellow gold rarely causes skin irritation, but will wear down over a long period time of heavy wear. 14k is comprised of 58.3% gold and is commonly used for white gold jewelry. 12k only contains 50% gold, making it unacceptable for jewelry. And lastly, 10k (41.7% gold) is considered the legal karat limit for what is considered real gold in the U.S. Any karat that falls below the 10k amount cannot claim to be gold. The higher the number of karat, the greater the value of the gold is.

The decision between 14k and 18k is a matter of a person’s personal taste and preference. 14k has the advantages of added strength, but lacks higher gold content and beauty of the rich yellow color found in 18k. Different alloys are used to bond with gold in jewelry for greater strength, durability, and color range. Yellow gold is usually alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel, and zinc for added strength. And some traits of gold is it is malleable, ductile, generally non-corrosive, has a high melting point, and is not susceptible to compression. The positive of gold is that it will not tarnish, rust, or corrode. And although it is strong, it is still the most malleable of all metals. The color of gold is determined by the type of metal alloys included in it and the percentage of each metal alloy.
Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_gold

Rose Gold
Rose gold gets its color from a larger proportion of copper in the metal alloy. This gives the gold a beautiful pink coloration. It is also known as pink gold or red gold. In the beginning of the nineteenth century rose gold was popular. Thus, giving it the nickname ‘Russian gold.’ However, today this term is rarely used.

Although the names are often used interchangeably, the general difference between red, rose, and pink gold is the copper content. Those with higher copper content have stronger red coloration. Similar to the purity of gold being yellow, pure copper is red. A common alloy for 18k rose gold is 75% gold and 25% copper. Since rose gold is alloyed, there is no such thing as “pure rose gold”. The highest gold content that can be found in rose gold is known as crown gold (22k). However, crown gold is extremely rare. Typically, rose gold is 18k. For 18k rose gold, typically about 4% silver is added to the 75% gold and 21% copper to give a rose color. 14k red gold in contrast, contains 41.67% copper and is often found in the Middle East.

The price of rose gold jewelry is dependent upon the purity of the gold used or karat weight, as well as the design and construction of the piece of jewelry.

Tungsten
Tungsten is known as the only metal that has the ability to be permanently polished. Therefore, the positive of tungsten is that you will rarely, if ever, find varying degrees of scratching, denting and surface mars. In fact, it is so durable that it is about 10 times harder than 18k white gold, 5 times harder than steel, and 4 times harder than titanium. If measured on the Moh’s Hardness Scale, tungsten has a rating between 8 and 9 (close to the highest rating of 10 found in a diamond). Tungsten rings are so hard that it will not bend and cannot be resized. Therefore, a person interested in purchasing a tungsten ring must get the exact size that fits them. Tungsten rings has a surface that will maintain its original beautiful shiny finish and shape for a longer period of time than any other ring metal on the market. Therefore, tungsten rings are considered the most wear resistant rings available. Additionally, many people prefer tungsten rings for the heavy weight and darker color. Tungsten is usually comprised of carbon and other elements that are grounded into a powder and then compressed with high pressure to form a ring. The ring is then cut and shaped using diamond tools.
What’s the difference between tungsten rings and tungsten carbide rings?
Make sure you know the distinction between the two because some jewelers sell tungsten rings they claim contains carbide. The difference is that tungsten only rings are steel rings. Although regular tungsten rings are very hard, they are not scratch resistant. A Tungsten Carbide ring, in contrast, can only be scratched by a diamond or a product containing the mineral corundum. Additionally, many tungsten rings are comprised of the element cobalt, which some people may have an allergic reaction to. Additionally, the cobalt causes oxidation spots to develop overtime that cannot be removed or polished out. This is due to the cobalt’s reaction to the human body. In order to solve this problem, some jewelers sell tungsten rings that are cobalt-free, but alloyed with nickel as a substitute.
For more information on tungsten carbide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tungsten_carbide
Advice on Maintaining a Tungsten Ring: Do not drop your ring on a hard surface or clean your ring with any chemicals because it can cause spotting. Instead, clean your tungsten ring with mild soap and water to remove dirt, grime, and lotions. However, we still recommend that you take off your ring during cleaning, cooking, showering, and putting on lotions.
Emergency Removal of Tungsten Rings: In the event of an emergency, tungsten rings can be removed by a medical professional. Another method of removing tungsten carbide rings is by cracking them into pieces with vice grip–style locking pliers. Using the locking pliers, place over ring and adjust the jaws to clamp lightly. Release and adjust the tightener to a 1/3 turn and then clamp again. Carefully continue the same process until you hear a crack, and then continue clamping in different positions until the hard material slowly breaks away.
For more information, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tungsten

Titanium
Titanium is an incredibly hard, lightweight, metal that is also resistant to corrosion. Traditionally, titanium was used specifically for engineering, aeronautics, and medical industries. However, titanium is currently making a trend of being used for jewelry. The strength of pure titanium requires that rings be forged out of a solid block of metal. For this reason, titanium rings cannot be resized. Titanium is sometimes alloyed with other metals for even greater strength. However, in jewelry, the alloying of titanium for added strength is undesired. For jewelry, pure titanium is highly recommended.

Many people choose titanium for its incredibly light weight (roughly 1/3 the weight of gold). In fact, the light weight of titanium rings makes it easy for customers to adjust to wearing a ring because it is so lightweight and comfortable that they forget it is even on. Some people are concerned over titanium rings being unable to cut off a person’s finger. Some customers have expressed concern that in the case of a medical emergency, a titanium ring might be impossible to cut off. However, if the ring is made of pure titanium, with no other metals alloyed for increased strength, then the titanium ring can be cut off. Because of the strength of titanium metal, it makes an excellent option for those who are rough on their jewelry. While titanium may show slight scratches, it can be easily re-polished to look brand new again.

Hopefully these facts were helpful in deciding the right metal for you. At INTA Gems we select only the finest quality metals and help each customer pick out the right metal for them to make the perfect engagement ring or other fine jewelry.