Gold is the most popular metal for fine jewelry and adds a timeless, classic beauty to engagement rings and other jewelry. It is the most pliable natural metal. Pure gold is typically combined with other metals to create a harder, more durable alloy and to alter its color to create white, rose, or yellow shades. Although gold will never rust, gold jewelry requires periodic cleanings to remove surface dirt and restore the original gleam. We only only use 18K and 14K gold in our jewelry and engagement rings, the most highly-recommended purities of gold.
In its purest form, gold is bright yellow in color, but is often mixed with other metals, such as silver and copper, to form a more durable alloy that's more resistant to everyday wear and tear. Additionally, these alloys help color gold and produce shades of white, yellow, and rose. At PrimeJeweler.com, we specialize in high-quality 14 karat and 18 karat pieces, the standard for fine gold jewelry.
There are various grades of gold purity, determined by the ratio of their alloy composition and rated by a karat system. Typical karat purities range from 10 karats to 24 karats (pure gold), with a wide variation of usage from country to country. In the United States, the most popular composition is 14 karat gold.
Below are some of the most common gold densities, along with the characteristics and pure gold content of each:
24 Karat Gold
In its purest form, the metal is comprised of 100% gold with virtually no alloy metals. Pure gold is extremely soft and pliable, which is why it's often mixed with other metals, such as copper and silver, to forge jewelry.
22 Karat Gold
This level of gold is 91.7% pure which is still too soft to make jewelry and not as durable as 18K or 14K.
18 Karat Gold
This alloy consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. 18 karat gold has been found to be the perfect balance between gold purity and strength.
14 Karat Gold
14 karat gold is 58.3% pure gold; the remainder is comprised of alloy metals. Any gold purity less than 14 karat gold is not recommended for high quality jewelry.
10 Karat Gold
This tier of the metal consists of 41.7% gold. This is the minimum purity that can still be considered gold in the United States and is not used for high quality jewelry.
Some countries use a required hallmarking system to imprint each gold jewelry piece with the karat count. Hallmarks for gold will typically appear as the karat weight (for example, 18 or 14) followed by 'K', 'KT', or 'karat'. Although this is not a government-mandated law in the United States, Our designers stamp each piece of gold jewelry with the karat weight as a means of ensuring a confident, informed jewelry shopping experience.
Due to its inherent softness and malleability, gold is rarely used alone when forging a jewelry piece. Instead, it's blended with other fine metals to lend more hardness and durability. When pure gold is combined with these other metals, it takes on a variety of rich shades that have become desirable in their own right. At PrimeJeweler.com, we offer an assortment of contrasting hues in our fine gold jewelry:
The most popular shade of the precious metal, yellow gold is used to create a majority of the fine jewelry on the market today, especially engagement rings and wedding bands. It gets its warm, lustrous hue from the silver and copper alloys with which it's mixed. Within the yellow gold family, there can be a marked difference in shading based on the karat weight-for instance, an 18 karat yellow gold ring will be richer and more brilliant in color than one measuring 10 karats.
Another popular choice for engagement and wedding rings, white gold gets its gleaming silver hue from the addition of alloy metals, including palladium, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese. The highest quality of white gold jewelry is generally 18 karats, consisting of a mixture of pure yellow gold and palladium. At PrimeJeweler.com, we coat each of our white gold pieces with a protective plating of Rhodium, a gleaming, near-white metal coating that's comparable in appearance to platinum. White gold can be re-dipped in Rhodium periodically to help maintain its original luster.
Often heralded as a romantic metal, rose gold gets its striking coloration from the addition of copper and silver. The larger the ratio of copper, the darker the rose coloration will be. Referred to as 'crown gold,' the most precious rose gold has a 22 karat weight. The more common 18 karat rose gold is comprised of 25% copper and 75% gold.
Gold is generally an expensive metal, due to its rarity and excess of demand. The price of the metal is determined by its fineness, or by the karat purity that marks the ratio of pure gold to other metals. Another factor that comes into play when determining the price of jewelry is the aesthetic design and the method of craftsmanship. As a general rule, a carefully handmade piece will be more expensive than a mass-produced version.
Care & Maintenance
Although gold is resistant to corrosion, it may become dull or dirty with frequent wear. Periodic cleanings of your fine gold jewelry can help to restore its original luster and keep it looking its best. Below are some tips and techniques on safely maintaining your gold jewelry:
Discovered as early as 3,000 BC, gold has served as an ornamental and economic fixture for many centuries. A chemical element, it's a highly prized metal mined from rocks and sediment. From the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome through the Middle Ages and the modern period of the 1800s, gold has figured prominently in the history and culture of societies spanning the globe. In 1848, the California gold rush brought about a drastic spike in the production and distribution of the metal. Today, gold lends timeless beauty and longevity to a majority of the fine jewelry on the market today.
Ideal for those with sensitive skin, platinum is hypoallergenic and is four times more durable than gold. Its silvery-white surface is visually comparable to white gold, although it is noticeably heavier and features more of a matte finish. Platinum is synonymous with elegance and luxury, with a higher price point reflecting its rarity and longevity. Consumers can expect to pay between two to four times more for a platinum ring than they would for its gold counterpart. All of our platinum consists of at least 95% pure platinum, with a maximum of 5% alloy metals. Nearly all of our solitaire and engagement rings have platinum prongs to keep diamonds securely in place.
Often heralded as just as beautiful as the gems it displays, platinum boasts a silvery-white luster that imparts unmistakable elegance and blends well with a variety of metals and stones. Four times stronger than gold, platinum is renowned for its hard-wearing properties, resistance to damage and wear, and its substantial heft.
Pieces marked with a 950 purity are a blend of 95% platinum and 5% alloy metals (usually copper, cobalt, iridium, rhodium, tungsten, or palladium).
Pieces marked with a 900 purity consist of 90% platinum and 10% alloy metals (usually palladium or iridium).
If you're examining a piece of jewelry forged from a precious metal, look for the hallmark as a way of indicating its purity. Pure platinum is often marked simply with the letters 'PLT', 'PLAT', or 'PLATINUM', which indicates that the piece consists of at least 95% platinum. If other alloys are added, such as copper or palladium, the hallmark will indicate the number of parts-per-thousand, such as '900PLAT' (900 parts of platinum out of 1000).
While gold and other metals can be mined in many different locations, most platinum is derived from Russia and South Africa, making it a much rarer metal. Due to its rarity, density, and heft, platinum is much more expensive than the other metals used in the jewelry industry.
Care & Maintenance
To maintain the beauty and shine of a piece of platinum jewelry, be sure to clean it periodically. It's safe to use the same cleaning methods you would use for gold, immerse it in a mild, non-abrasive jewelry cleaner and then gently rub the surface of the metal with a soft cloth. Every few months or so, have a professional jeweler perform a thorough cleaning and buff the surface free of any scratches. If you'd like, you can also ask the jeweler to polish the metal for a shinier look; otherwise, it will acquire a matte patina over time.
When you're not wearing your platinum jewelry, it's best to store it in its own cloth bag, sealable plastic bag, or lined box to keep it from coming into contact with other pieces, which can result in scratching.
At thirty times more rare than gold and four times stronger, platinum has become synonymous with luxury and longevity.
Platinum is a metal with a rich and deep-rooted history. Mined in Russia and South Africa, it was first used in decorative applications in ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. Preferred for its remarkable strength and longevity, the metal was used to adorn Egyptian coffins. The South American Inca Indians also made use of platinum to decorate their artifacts. With the Spanish conquest of South America, the metal's value was diminished, as the Spanish people considered it to be far inferior to silver. It wasn't until the 1800s that platinum began to reclaim its original status as a precious and treasured metal. Today, it's regarded as the premier choice for the setting of fine diamonds and other gemstones.
Attached is some information on the advantages of Platinum:
Deemed a smarter, lighter alternative to platinum, palladium has gained immense popularity as the jewelry metal of choice by women and men alike. Palladium is a precious metal that possesses an uncanny resemblance to platinum, without the high price or heavy weight. Its natural color is white, so this metal does not require rhodium-plating. Other appealing characteristics of palladium are that it is hypoallergenic and resistant to tarnish caused by prolonged wear.
Palladium has gained in popularity as a comparable, less expensive alternative to platinum. Hovering somewhere in between gold and platinum in terms of rarity and price, palladium weighs substantially less than platinum. Because jewelry price is determined largely by its mass, its lighter weight makes palladium significantly less expensive than platinum.
Many jewelers prefer palladium because it's softer and more malleable than pure platinum, making it easier to work with. Its dark grey coloring allows palladium to blend favorably with sterling silver pieces, and it retains its original shine longer than platinum (although it will eventually acquire the same dull, matte finish over time). Like white gold and platinum, palladium can be refinished to regain its original luster.
Palladium is most similar in color to platinum. Like platinum, palladium has a bright white appearance regardless of whether or not it has a rhodium plating. Over time, this bright white will take on a patina finish, but it will not yellow like white gold.
While some find the patina look desirable, a simple cleaning and polishing will return a palladium piece to its former luster and shine. The layer of Rhodium often applied to white metals helps to prolong the bright white finish on palladium.
Palladium was discovered in 1802 by William Hyde Wollaston in South America. It was named after the asteroid Pallas and was initially questioned and suspected to be an alloy of mercury and platinum. Russia is the top producer of palladium, with countries like South Africa, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Ethiopia trailing distantly behind.
Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry-making since around 1939. During World War II, platinum was declared a strategic government resource and palladium became more common in jewelry. Throughout the last 50 years, the price of palladium has fluctuated, and was often more expensive than platinum. However since early 2000, due to a spike in the price of platinum, palladium became an accessible and affordable alternative to platinum.
Deemed a smart, lighter alternative to palladium, platinum has gained immense popularity as a chosen metal for jewelry by women and men alike. Palladium is a precious metal that possesses an uncanny resemblance to platinum without the price tag. Its natural color is white, so this metal does not require rhodium-plating to render it into a fashionable jewelry shop novelty. Another appealing characteristic of palladium is that it is hypoallergenic (nickel free) and resistant to tarnish caused by prolonged wear and exposure.
Palladium Purity & Composition
In jewelry manufacturing, a palladium piece should ideally adhere to the 95% standard of purity, identical to the purity level used in platinum jewelry creation. Ruthenium is added to the palladium alloy, as well as other hypoallergenic and practical metals that produce greater hardness and consistency.
When purchasing palladium, always confirm the purity level is above 90%, the industry standard, and does not contain too large a quantity of other metals.
Workability & Wear-ability
In terms of malleability, palladium scores high. It is known as one of the easiest precious metals to fashion into a specific shape or appearance. Moreover, it is best for gem setting purposes since the metal has little memory of form. This makes it perfect for men’s wedding bands, or simple women’s wedding bands, and classic solitaire rings. However, the malleability factor does cause palladium to fall short with more intricate designs, where platinum or 14K white gold could be better options.
Wear-ability is another admirable characteristic of palladium. In fact, it scores 15% higher than white gold in this area. Whereas white gold has a specific gravity of 12.7, palladium only measures at 12.0, meaning that it is considerably lighter. Lighter jewelry feels more natural, and lighter rings spin less on your finger.
Care & Maintenance
Cleaning a palladium jewelry piece requires three basic tools: warm water, commercial jewelry cleaner, and a soft-bristled brush.
1. Soak the jewelry in a small container of cleaning solution for 5 minutes.
2. Using the soft-bristled brush, remove impurities and dirt from the piece’s crooks and surfaces.
3. Rinse the jewelry with warm water.
4. Dry with a paper towel.
Jewelry experts recommend that owners take their palladium pieces to an expert cleaner at least once every six months for a professional cleaning. Also, it is best to store these precious pieces in a fabric-lined jewelry or storage box.
Palladium normally costs about as much as 14K white gold, and in some instances, can be even more affordable. Complex jewelry pieces might be more expensive in Palladium, as they require more skill and time to execute in their ideal.