Silver, gold or platinum, which one is your favourite?
Silver, gold or platinum which one is for you?
I am frequently asked about the different characteristics of precious metals used to make my jewellery. There are several metals used in the creation of fine jewellery, including silver, gold and platinum. Rhodium and palladium are also used. Most of us have a favourite precious metal, it’s an emotional thing about colour and finish rather than the performance of the metal. However with gold and platinum prices being high, you want to get the very best from your jewellery. So here is my “Go to Guide” about precious metals, their characteristics, and benefits.
Silver has a white-grey shiny colour, it is the most popular metal for jewellery and is the most abundant of precious metals, making it less expensive than gold and platinum.
Silver is great for jewellery such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and dress rings. Don’t expect silver jewellery to last for ever if worn every day. Most silver used in jewellery making is 92.5% pure silver alloyed with 7.5% copper, it is a soft malleable metal. Silver is also more prone to oxidisation, sometimes causing the silver to turn black.
Silver is very versatile in the finishes you can apply, from bright shiny white to oxidized black and rich 22ct vermeil yellow gold and many shades in between. It will polish to a high mirror like finish or soft satin finish.
These finishes will look great on your wedding day, but will not last for long. Rings, especially when worn daily, are constantly going through a burnishing process. Burnishing is when a metal rubs against something harder than itself leaving behind a shiny mark. Eventually your ring will be covered in these marks, creating a new finish; a satin ring will become shinier and a polished ring will become more matte. Silver will wear to its “happy” spot somewhere in between the two. It’s a soft metal and prone to scratches, and changes over time.
White gold or platinum is a more durable metal. All metals will wear over time, but silver will go through the aging process much faster.
Gold is the most popular choice for fine jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings. There are three key things to consider when choosing gold jewellery:
- which gold carat to choose
- which gold colour you prefer
- … and your budget
There are several carats available for gold. The carat measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloy to make up the final metal. In UK we use an abbreviation of carat “ct”. The gold carats I use in my bespoke jewellery are 9ct, 18ct and 22ct and in men’s rings 9ct and 18ct.
Remember the higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be. So generally, an 18ct ring will be more expensive than a 9ct ring.
Gold’s purity :
9ct gold contains 37.5% pure gold
14ct gold contains 58.5% pure gold
18ct gold contains 75% pure gold
22ct gold contains 91.67% pure gold
Unlike silver, 9ct, 14ct and 18ct gold are each relatively hard and durable metals and are suitable for use in all types of fine jewellery, and can be worn every day, with care. When choosing jewellery, particularly rings, you should consider the hardness and durability of gold to be used in the ring.
The difference in colour between yellow, white and rose is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. As the colour difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the colour of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age.
Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. The copper provides the rose-reddish colour. White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium.
9ct white gold is created by adding silver, to give the metal a white, creamy colour with a hint of yellow, however unlike silver it will not tarnish.
18ct white gold contains palladium to give a rich, dark grey-white colour, which also makes it more durable. Some jewellers plate their white gold rings with rhodium. Rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look whiter. The natural colour of white gold is actually a light grey colour. The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be re-rhodium plated approximately each 12 to 18 months.
When comparing the price of the gold colours in the same carat, white gold is normally a little more expensive than yellow gold and rose gold. Yellow gold and rose gold normally have approximately the same price.
When trying to decide between the gold carat types there are three things to consider:
- The metals performance with every day wear
- The difference in colour between the 9ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct gold
- The difference in price between the various gold carats
In practical terms, 18ct generally holds up to everyday wear better than 9ct and tends to look better than 9ct as it ages over the years. This is one of the reasons why 18ct is normally preferred for ladies engagement rings. 18ct is the superior metal for lady’s and men’s wedding rings provided that the ring is not a lightweight construction. However, 18ct is more expensive than 9ct, which is usually fine for ladies engagement rings, though in a large men’s ring the 18ct price can be a noticeable difference.
9ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct are suitable for use in dress rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces. Many people choose 9ct for their earrings and pendants due to its lower price.
Platinum is a white metal, but unlike gold it is used in jewellery in almost its pure form (approximately 95% pure). Platinum is extremely long wearing, durable and is very white, so it does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold does.
Platinum is a very dense and heavy metal, a platinum ring will feel heavier than an 18ct gold ring, and a gold ring will feel heavier than silver.
Platinum is, however, significantly more expensive than gold. As a guide a simple platinum band will be at least double the price of an equivalent sized 18ct white gold band.
Platinum is a luxurious choice and is often chosen for its sophisticated appeal, it compliments diamonds and sapphires with sophistication and elegance.
Platinum is not normally used in the full range of jewellery products due to its higher price.
Platinum is mainly used in ladies engagement rings, wedding rings and men’s wedding rings as the ring and settings will not wear with age, keeping the diamonds secure.
Platinum can also be used to make dress rings, though it is not commonly used to make earrings, pendants, bracelets or necklaces.
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